Migrate SmarterMail to a Different Server

This article applies to recent versions of SmarterMail. View articles for SmarterMail 16.x and earlier.

On occasion, a system administrator may need to move SmarterMail, and all its domains and data, to a different server. For example, if they are moving their SmarterMail customers to more powerful hardware.

SmarterTools makes it easy by allowing you to have 2 instances of your SmarterMail license running on 2 different servers for up to 30 days. At the end of the 30 days, the "old" license then needs to be uninstalled and should no longer call back to the SmarterTools' licensing servers.

Before starting the move process, add new (lower priority) MX records to your domains in DNS for the new server and allow 24-48 hours for the records to propagate through the internet. This will establish the new server address as an MX, but will prevent mail being delivered to it until you've completed the move.

SmarterTools also recommends ensuring your license key can be activated again before beginning the migration process. This information can be found by visiting the SmarterTools website and clicking on the account icon in the upper right. Once logged in, select Licenses from the dropdown. Select the license being migrated from the list and, if it has used up its allotted activations, a Reset Activations button can be seen. 

- If you have SSL or TLS configured on any ports, the certificate being used must be exported (containing the private key) from the original servers certificate store. It then needs to be imported into the new server’s Personal folder within the certificate store. 
- If Declude is being used on the original server, you will want to ensure the Declude service also gets setup on the new server prior to the deployment. Failure to install the Declude service on the new server will result in all mail landing in the SmarterMail Spool's Proc folder and will not be delivered.

Follow these steps to migrate a SmarterMail installation to a different server:

  1. Install the same SmarterMail Build being used on the old hardware on the new server. (NOTE: Legacy Builds of SmarterMail can be found within your account on the SmarterTools website.)
  2. Set up SmarterMail in IIS on the new server, using the KB article "Set up SmarterMail as an IIS Site in IIS10" as a guide.
  3. Stop the SmarterMail Service (MailService.exe), and any IIS sites/application pools, on both servers.
  4. Copy the Settings folder from your old server to your new one. By default that path will be C:\Program Files (x86)\SmarterTools\SmarterMail\Service\Settings. 
  5. Copy the Domains folder from your old server to your new one. By default the path will be C:\SmarterMail\Domains.
  6. Start the SmarterMail Service on the new server, and any IIS sites/application pools as needed.
  7. Log in and re-activate the software on the new server.
  8. If you change the path to your domains, you would need to edit your domains.json file accordingly to reflect the new paths.
  9. If your IP address or other DNS info changes, update the corresponding setting in SmarterMail and restart the SmarterMail Service (or reboot the server) to make the change effective.
Learn more about using SmarterMail for your email accounts and company-wide chat.


I'm planning on moving one of my Smatermail servers to a Windows 2012 system.

I see that Smartermail 11.x says that there are some work arounds that need to be done to make sure it will run smooth but I coudn't find any direct references to it at the KB pages.

Could someone point it out?

Diego Santos (2/19/2014 at 11:03 AM)
There are no know issue with SmarterMail on a Server 2012 box. We have many customers that have 2012 with SmarterMail running and no issue or work arounds needed.
Brian Ward (2/19/2014 at 12:23 PM)
this article is spot on. Smartermail is One of the smoothest and easiest to work on. I just migrated my Smartermail from one 2012 server to another 2012 server.
it was soooooo smooth, i say smoother than the silk (if possible ;)

Bilal Mahmood (2/26/2014 at 7:32 AM)
Hello, great product !

I'm moving domains from a custom MAIL folder on an old server to the default location on the new box. Will the above work or can you think of other things to change ?


Michael Holcer (11/19/2014 at 7:25 PM)
Hi Michael,

I believe this article would be better suited for what you're looking to do. Let me know if you have any questions.


Andrea Free (11/20/2014 at 8:36 AM)
I have SM 13.x (enterprise) and backup SM 13.x (free) mail server. I plan to move only the primary mail server at this time.

Could someone at SmarterTools update this document to include information on changes that would need to be made to the backup mail server?

Is it as simple as changing/adding the IP address (Settings > Routing > Incoming Gateways) on the backup mail server to the new IP address of the primary mail server?

Scott Jibben (11/22/2014 at 3:30 PM)
What options do we have if we don't have access to the files on the source system but do have administrator access?
David O'Leary (2/26/2015 at 10:49 AM)
Do you manage the SmarterMail server or do you get it as a hosted service? I ask because some companies will have the Domain Admin access but don't manage it on their servers.
Andrea Free (2/26/2015 at 11:01 AM)
Important to know: When you performed the migration don't forget to export the certificate (with the associated private key) from the Certificate Store MMC. This certificate would need to be imported into the new server's Certificate Store, you would then need to export this certificate to Base-64 and configure the SmarterMail ports with the newly exported base64 .cer file.
Martin Blanchette (5/27/2015 at 10:32 AM)
Hi there
1) I need to migrate mail accounts from 6.7 to version 13 - will the same process apply?
2) If I could also ask does the migration tool handle migrating from a remote SmarterMail server not under my control? ( I have a domain on a shared hosting account using SmarterMail and would like to move these mail boxes to our SmarterMail server)

brad (6/3/2015 at 8:24 AM)
1) We recommend migrating to the same version. So either perform an upgrade on your current server to 13 and then migrate, or install version 6.x on the new server and upgrade after the data has been moved.
2) In this case, you'll need to request your domain folder from your provider. Then add this folder to your server files. This article should explain a bit more on those steps: http://portal.smartertools.com/kb/a2875/move-smartermail-from-hosted-to-self-installed.aspx

Andrea Free (6/3/2015 at 8:55 AM)
For a migration of SM13 on W2003 to SM14 on W2012 is anything more to know than your instruction on top of that page?


Urs Bärtschi (8/27/2015 at 7:33 AM)
That should be all you need! Just keep in mind that SmarterMail 14.x requires .NET 4.5 Framework (which shouldn't be an issue with W2012).
Andrea Free (8/27/2015 at 8:15 AM)
Thanks for your answer.
Urs Bärtschi (8/28/2015 at 2:09 AM)
I just completed a migration from Server 2003 Enterprise Edition to Server 2008 R2 and the only issues I found with this article is that BEFORE you move onto step 2 you need to MAKE SURE you do the "Begin Setup" when the interface launches....if not you will have problems!! after you do the "Begin Setup" portion then move onto step 2......also before you move onto step 5 you need to check to make sure the ports are open in your "Windows Firewall" for some reason the installation program does NOT do this for you so you will have to set a rule manually. Other then those 2 small little steps this article is ON POINT!!
James Civitello (9/4/2015 at 8:50 AM)
9. If you changed your path you need to update all of your locations in General Settings, Protocol Settings, Log Settings, Storage Message Archive, Domain Defaults

10. Don't forget to create and/or change location of C:/ClamQuarantine

J Lee (4/22/2017 at 8:45 PM)
do not forget to copy the content of the spool directory too
Richard Frank (5/17/2017 at 4:50 PM)
I used this method to migrate from SM14 to SM16, but some of the domains are not showing all the users. If I look in the domain folder, the migrated files are there, as are the user folders, but in the SM admin the users are missing?
Russ Michaels (12/16/2017 at 11:22 AM)
Hi Russ. I'm sorry to hear that you ran into an issue with your migration. This is unexpected behavior, and I'd encourage you to submit a ticket to the Support Department for their review. It looks like you have support tickets available on your account, and an Email Ticket can be submitted by logging in at the Tickets section, which is linked above.
Andrea Free (12/18/2017 at 9:55 AM)
Any idea on why this happens? I have the same issue.

Ted (10/23/2018 at 1:09 PM)
I need to migrate from a previous version (maybe 10.x or 11.x) running on W2008 to the latest version 16.x on W2012 R2.

Should I upgrade the old version on W2008 to the latest version first before migration? or I can just follow the guide and direct copy the files from old version on W2008 to latest version on W2012 R2 and it will still works smoothly?

May I know which guide should I follow for version upgrade?

Sze Chua (10/27/2020 at 9:08 AM)
Migrating to 2012 R2 should work just fine, then you can upgrade the SmarterMail install to the latest version. (Or to a more recent one.)
Derek Curtis (10/28/2020 at 8:29 AM)
Is it possible to install the latest version of SmarterMail on the new server and use this procedure to migrate the mailboxes from the old server (running version 15.7).

Or do I need to first install an older version to migrate and then update afterwards?

S Settels (12/4/2020 at 4:43 AM)
While that IS possible, the better thing to do is upgrade your existing server, then move over to the new hardware with that same version installed. This ensures that there's less potential for issues.
Derek Curtis (12/7/2020 at 8:43 AM)