Move a Domain from one SmarterMail Server to Another

This article applies to recent versions of SmarterMail. View articles for SmarterMail 16.x and earlier.
On occasion, system administrators may need to move a domain from one SmarterMail server to another. For example, there's a domain that is using an inordinate amount of disk space, so it needs to be moved to a SmarterMail server that has a lot of free disk space available.

IMPORTANT NOTE: SmarterMail data should be moved to a server that's running the same build number as the original server. Do not follow these steps to move a domain from a SmarterMail 16.x or prior installation, or a server running an older Build, to a new server running the current 100.0.xxxx build. If you wish to upgrade along with your domain migration, you must migrate to a server running the same version/Build then perform the upgrade, or perform the upgrade on the old server then migrate to one running the latest Build. 

Follow these steps to move a SmarterMail domain to another server:

  1. Before beginning, make a backup copy of the domains.json file (default install path is C:\Program Files (x86)\SmarterTools\SmarterMail\Service\Settings\) and the folder for the domain you want to move. The default install path for domain folders is C:\SmarterMail\Domains\. So if you were moving to a new SmarterMail server you'd want to make a backup of C:\SmarterMail\Domains\
  2. Stop the SmarterMail service on both servers.
  3. Copy the domain's folder from the old server to the new server. The default install path for the domain folder should match the old server: C:\SmarterMail\Domains\[domain_name]).
  4. Using Notepad or similar text editor, open the domains.json file on the old server. The default install path is C:\Program Files (x86)\SmarterTools\SmarterMail\Service\Settings\. 
  5. Locate the entry for the domain being moved. (E.g., It will be displayed in the following format:
    "": {
    "data_path": "c:\\SmarterMail\\Domains\\"
  6. Copy the domain entry from the file and keep it on hand. Then delete the domain entry and save the file. (NOTE: You may need to save it to the desktop, then manually replace the original due to Windows Security.)
  7. Make a backup of the domains.json file on the new server.
  8. Using Notepad or similar text editor, open domains.json on the new server.
  9. Paste the domain entry from the file on the old server, making sure to adhere to the proper naming/formatting of the name.
  10. Save the file. (NOTE: You may need to save it to the desktop, then manually replace the original due to Windows Security.) 
  11. Start the SmarterMail service on both servers.
  12. Update the primary MX record for the domain to the new IP. This can take up to 24-48 hours for propagation.
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How do this for version 8 and older? Where the directory structure of the users mailbox is different?

I believe in version 9 and newer, you guys put the mailboxes under a "mail" directory, e.g. c:\smartermail\domains\\users\joe\mail.

How do I move the domains from version 8 and older to 9 and above in this case?

ilyas (3/25/2014 at 12:21 PM)
You can still follow the same steps for older versions. The file structure that were change is below the domain level and when you move a domain that does not have the correct file structure on start up SmarterMail will automatically correct it.
Brian Ward (3/25/2014 at 12:48 PM)
Well I just did a test of one domain from an older version of SmarterMail to 13.x and while the users moved, the mail and folders do not appear in the web interface. So Brian, I don't think you're correct. Now I'm not sure how I'm supposed to migrate over 500 users and 65 domains.
John Draper (11/5/2014 at 5:07 PM)
I see Rod did reply back to your community post here:
Brian Ward (11/6/2014 at 9:03 AM)
Hi, my server is running SM v4.3. I'm migrating to SM v12. Is it possible to migrate the domain list and all the domain user accounts? Just the domain and user entries. I don't mind about the email messages. Thanks
Mostafa Helal (12/11/2014 at 9:08 AM)
Hi Mostafa,

It is possible to migrate just the domain list and user accounts. However, this is a tedious process and it's not one that we recommend. Essentially, you'd have to strip out all of the .grp files and any other files such as calendars, contacts, etc. if you do not want to bring them over with the accounts. Is there a specific reason you only want the list and accounts? If it was just to make the process simpler, it would probably be easier to migrate the user accounts as a whole.

Andrea Free (12/11/2014 at 2:19 PM)
Hi, I have a server with version 13.3 Enterprise containing 300 domains and 2000 users and is 700 GB.
I need to migrate to a larger server but I can migrate only a few domains each night.
The old and the new server will have different IP and different FQDN (for example: and ) .
Can I use my license without problems on both servers simultaneously for 30 days?

Gonzalo Varela Rua (4/11/2015 at 12:58 AM)
You can! We allow licenses to be on multiple servers for up to 30 days for migration purposes.
Andrea Free (4/12/2015 at 12:08 PM)