A few months ago I switched from my normal Google account (@gmail.com) to my Google Apps account (@filiwiese.com). I ran into a few snags along the way and I haven’t solved them all yet, however I thought it might be useful to share my experiences so far with my readers so you can consider what I have learned.
First, you will need to sign up for a Google Apps account, register your domain name (or use a domain you have already registered) and verify your domain ownership. Once you have done all of that we can move on to the next step: migrating your email.
Migrating Your Email
In order to email from your Google Apps account, you will need to activate the Gmail service in your Google Apps control panel. Once you have done this, you have two options:
- Start over with a clean slate, in which case you can move on to the next topic.
- Migrate your email from your normal Gmail account to your Google Apps Gmail account.
If you decide to migrate your email (like I did), you may want to explore one of the following two options:
- Alternatively, a free option is to do it yourself by using POP3 from one Gmail account to another.
It is important to keep in mind that both options mentioned above will take a few days to complete and your chat history is main thing that will not be transferred (unfortunately I did not find a solution for migrating the chat history). I tried both options to see if I was able to also transfer my chat history. Both options mentioned above worked absolutely fine for me.
Once you have migrated your contacts you will need to invite your friends to Chat in order to use Google Chat on your Google Apps account.
That is it! You have migrated your email to your Google Apps Gmail account.
Migrating Google Calender
Just like Gmail, you will need to activate the Calendar service in your Google Apps control panel. Once you have done this, you have again two options:
- Share your normal Google Calendars (on your normal Google account) with your new Google Apps account. Be sure to set the permissions to “Make changes to events” to enable edit rights for your Google Apps account.
- First export your existing calendar events as CSV from your normal Google account, and then import these into your main calendar in your Google Apps account.
Of the two options described above, I went with the second option. Mainly because the second option has as major advantage that all your events are added into your main calendar. I found that maintaining calendar events and notification in the first option became very messy very quickly.
That is it! Let’s tackle the next service: Google Docs.
Migrating Your Documents
I love Google Docs! I don’t know why people still send around Word and Excel files (even if you make a spreadsheet, you can better share it with your friends/colleagues if it is in the cloud). Google Docs allows me to share the latest version with anyone without having to send around another file. Also, I can edit/access the documents in any modern browser and I don’t need to start up another program. I really love that too!
Of course I am using Google Docs extensively within Google (like most Googlers), and also in my private life. Allowing me to share plans for trips (in spreadsheets) with my partner or save a PDF file or writing a blog post and using the comment feature get feedback on it from friends (like this post) is extremely handy.
If you haven’t used it yet that much, I suggest you to also activate the Google Docs service in your Google Apps control panel. And start using it!
If you have been using it already, you probably want to move your files to your Google Apps account. In order to do this, also do activate the service and again you have two options:
- Share the documents you would like to have in your Google Apps account with your new Google Apps account. Now you should be able to see them in the Document List of your Google Apps account. In case you want to move ownership, be sure to change the sharing rights with your Google Apps account to “Is Owner”. Then you can remove the old Google account from the sharing and voila, your document has moved (including revision history) to your Google Apps account.
- The second option you can explore is to download all the files from your normal Google account to your computer. Once you have done that, you can upload your files into your new Google Apps account (you may need to unzip the downloaded files first).
What used to be a problem for Google Apps account (versus normal Google accounts) was the limitation of space. Until recently you only had 1GB storage space in your Google Apps account for Google Docs and you were unable to purchase more storage space (unlike the normal Google account, where you could purchase more storage space). Luckily this is not an issue anymore.
Now that we have moved over our Gmail, Calendar and Docs, lets migrate our Google Reader.
Migrating Your Feeds
I also use Google Reader extensively. It allows me to keep my inbox empty and most importantly: the content comes to me (I don’t have to search for the latest update of a favorite blog). I guess that most of the readers of this blog are also using Google Reader so here is how your migrate your feeds.
First open Google Reader in your normal Google account. Then export your subscriptions to an OPML file. Now go to your Google Reader in your Google Apps account and import the OPML file you have just exported.
Important to keep in mind: Exporting and importing the OPML file will not migrate the read/unread statuses of the feed items in your Google Reader. This means that your Google Reader on your Google Apps account will have no idea which feed items in which feed you have already read in Google Reader on your normal Google account. As such, I suggest you quickly go through your Google Reader on your normal Google account and make sure you have read everything before exporting the OPML file. Then once you import the OPML file into your Google Reader in your Google account, mark everything (all feed items) as read and you are at the state where you left off on your normal Google account. Note that there are other ways around this, but I found this to be the easiest.
Now that we have also tackled Google Reader, lets have a look at Google Bookmarks.
Migrating Your Bookmarks
Most of us will have bookmarks stored in Google Chrome, and if you have synced Chrome with your account then you don’t have to worry about losing them. However I also found it come in handy to use Google Bookmarks to store my other bookmarks (the ones I don’t want to have in my browser drop down menu). Although it is made easy to export your bookmarks from Google Bookmarks, importing bookmarks into Google Bookmarks is not that easy (to say the least).
My solution so far has been as follows:
The first step is to go to Google Bookmarks on your normal Google account and click the “Export bookmarks” link in the left hand menu. This will trigger a download of your bookmarks in a HTML file.
For the second step, activate your Google Bookmarks by accessing the website and sign in with your Google Apps account (this will activate the service for your Google Apps account unless you have limited the access to other Google products).
The third step is where it gets tricky. You now need to go to Delicious and import your Google Bookmarks HTML file into their service. This will copy all your bookmarks into Delicious. Tip: You may just want to create a new Delicious account for this purpose so you don’t mix up an already existing account with the newly imported bookmarks.
Once you have successfully imported your Google Bookmarks into your (new?) Delicious account, go for the fourth step back to your Google Bookmarks on your Google Apps account and click the “Import bookmarks” link in the left menu. This will prompt you for your Delicious login credentials and then import the Delicious bookmarks into Google Bookmarks.
That is it! Your Google Bookmarks have now been migrated to your Google Apps account. At this stage you may want to delete your (new?) Delicious account (or at least all the bookmarks) but that is up to you.
Migrating Other Services
Now that we have migrated Google Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Reader and Google Bookmarks from your normal Google account to your Google Apps account, I will shortly discuss some of the remaining services. Please keep in mind that you will need to access the websites of the mentioned services before you try to migrate your data, to make sure you have activated the specific services for your Google Apps account.
Google Picasa Web Albums: In order to migrate your photos in your Picasa Web Albums, log into your normal Google account and go to the Privacy and Permissions tab. Here you can choose to migrate your photos to your Google Apps account. Once you have done this you may want to also purchase additional storage space for your Google Apps account.
Google Analytics: In order to keep your Analytics history you will need to share your Google Analytics accounts (from your normal Google account) with your Google Apps account (make sure to give your Google Apps account administrator rights). Your Analytics profiles/accounts will now appear Google Analytics under your Google Apps account.
Google Profiles: Unfortunately this does not work yet for Google Apps accounts, but this may soon change so keep an eye out for this! And if you want to be on of the first people to know if this changes, please feel free to follow me on Twitter.
Important note: As long as Google Profiles does not work for Google Apps accounts you can not, I repeat, NOT use any of the recent Google+ social features launched by Google.
Google Checkout: As far as I have experienced, you will not be able to migrate your transactions history (and this article confirms this). But you will be able to use Google Checkout with your Google Apps account. So just go to Google Checkout with your Google Apps account, re-enter your credit card details and address information and you are ready to go.
Google Webmaster Tools: You can not transfer your Google Webmaster Tools data to another account, however it is possible to add your Google Apps account to your existing Google Webmaster Tools site profiles (on your normal Google account) and then revoke the access to your normal Google account. All you need to do is add your Google Apps account as an owner to each site you want to transfer.
Google App Engine: In order to use your Google App Engine applications with your Google Apps account you just need to add your Google Apps account as an owner for each application. You can do this in the permission settings in the Admin Panel. After which you can, if you so prefer, remove the access rights of your normal Google account.
YouTube: Unfortunately, if you created your YouTube account after May 2009 you will not be able to transfer your videos that easily to your Google Apps account. Your best bet then to create a new YouTube account and to download each video from your old YouTube account and re-upload it to your new YouTube account. That said, if you created your account before May 2009 you should be able to unlink your YouTube account from your normal Google account and then link it to your Google Apps account. If you are unsure, just give it a try.
Google AdWords: You can move your AdWords account to your Google Apps account by inviting your Google Apps account as another user and then terminate access to your normal Google account. However, you may just want to make a new account on your Google Apps account and use one of those coupons you get in the mail to get some free advertisement.
For migrating any Google service not discussed above I recommend you also check out the Google Apps migrations guide and the “Moving product data” articles. Although most of these instructions are meant for migrating data between conflicting accounts, but there are still some useful tips in there for migrating your data from a normal Google account to a Google Apps account.
Last but not least, I highly recommend and urge you to activate two-step verification on your Google Apps account (if you haven’t done so already). Simply because this will make your data more safe in the cloud by adding another layer of security for accessing your data!
Activating two-step verification takes only 15 minutes to set up once and if you run your business from Google Apps I personally believe you can not afford not to activate this additional security layer. Ask yourself: Can you really justify not activating this free service on your Google Apps account to protect any data related to your clients? What if someone was to guess or steal your password and this someone was also able to copy and/or delete all the confidential data related to your client from your Google Apps account (e.g. email, business plans, marketing strategies, etc.) because you did not activated this free service in time? Seriously, activate it now!
I hope you found this article useful in moving to a Google Apps account (as your primary account) from your normal Google account. Do you have additional tips? Questions? Remarks? Feedback? Please use the comment box below to let me know!