Major Upgrade of SmarterMail

This article applies to recent versions of SmarterMail. View articles for SmarterMail 15.x and earlier.
The steps for upgrading to the latest release of SmarterMail from an older version of the application vary depending on which version you are upgrading from. These instructions are for upgrading from a previous major version release, such as moving from 16.x to the Current Build (which is referenced on the Downloads page of the website as Build XXXX (Release Date)), moving from 13.x to 16.x, or even upgrading all the way from 5.x to the Current Build. 

For instructions on how to upgrade to a release on the same major version, such as upgrading from Build 6911 to Build 6928, or upgrading from 16.0 to 16.1, please refer to the knowledge base article -- Minor Upgrade of SmarterMail.
- Due to significant back end changes, it is not possible to roll back to an older version after installing the Current Build or version 7.x.
- When performing a major upgrade to the most recent Current Build, all domains will go through a conversion process. More information on that can be found here: Upgrading SmarterMail (Domain Conversion).
- All configuration data and emails are preserved when upgrading from a previous major release. That way, if there are issues, a backup is available and can be used to work through those issues.
- Before following the instructions in this article, make sure the appropriate Microsoft .NET Framework is installed for the version to which you will be upgrading, based on the version's System Requirements. 
- Due to file structure changes that are in SmarterMail 7.x, upgrading from an earlier version to version 7.x or higher can take up to several hours, based on the amount of data. 
- Legacy Versions of any product can be downloaded from your Account area. Simply log in to your account, and from the Account dropdown icon, select "Legacy Versions". Here you'll have access to any current Build plus the most recent release of any Legacy product.

Stepping Through the Upgrade Process
Depending on the version you're upgrading from, there may be some steps necessary for you to upgrade to the most recent Build. Below is a guideline for how to step up in versions to the latest.

SmarterMail 6.x or earlier
Use this method if you're running SmarterMail 6.x or earlier:
  1. Download and install SmarterMail 7.x -- make sure things are running smoothly
  2. Download and install SmarterMail 15.x -- make sure things are running smoothly
  3. Download and install the current Build
SmarterMail 7.x to 14.x
Use this process if you're running SmarterMail 7.x to 14.x:
  1. Download and install SmarterMail 15.x -- make sure things are running smoothly
  2. Download and install the current Build
The above steps are necessary due to the back end changes made to SmarterMail 7.x and 15.x, and then the conversion process that occurs when upgrading to the most current Build. Stepping the upgrade in this way greatly minimizes the potential for any issues, as opposed to simply upgrading directly to a current Build.

Performing a Major Version Upgrade:
  1. Back up your SmarterMail installation and data.
  2. If you are running SmarterMail as an IIS site, stop the SmarterMail site. Stop the associated application pool as well.
  3. Uninstall SmarterMail from the Add or Remove Programs control panel. This is an important step in performing a major upgrade that should NOT be skipped. Failure to uninstall the program will result in corrupted data. All configuration data and email will be preserved after uninstalling the program file.
  4. Download the latest automated installer from the SmarterMail Download page.
  5. Run the SmarterMail installer.
  6. During the installation process, you will be prompted for the installation path. In order to keep existing data and settings, install to the same path used in previous installs. For reference, the default installation location is C:\Program Files (x86)\SmarterTools\SmarterMail.
  7. If you were running with an activated license key, you will need to activate again using a license key that is valid for the version you upgraded to. For more information regarding activation within the product, refer to: Activate SmarterMail.
  8. Choose to use the same IIS site that was used previously. If IIS was not previously configured, create a new site. (NOTE: An IIS site is required in order to access the SmarterMail web interface. An IIS site can be configured after installation; however, you will not be able to access the setup wizard or web interface in the meantime. If you choose to configure the site later, you can access the IIS Configuration Tool by navigating to its default location at C:\Program Files (x86)\SmarterTools\SmarterMail\IIS Tool.)
  9. If you are running SmarterMail as an IIS site, IF NEEDED, change the .NET version of the Application Pool to .NET 4.0 and restart IIS.
  10. In some cases you may need to reconfigure your spam settings, as those can change from version to version.
Learn more about using SmarterMail for your email accounts and company-wide chat.


Can I use this KB to upgrade from Smartermail 6.9 to 11.x?
Diego Santos (2/12/2014 at 11:37 AM)
Hi, Diego. Sure - this same process would work. We'd just recommend you first upgrade to 7.x as there were some file system changes in 7.x that could take some time to upgrade, depending on the amount of users and mail you have. From there, a straight shot from 7.x to 11.x would be fine.
Derek Curtis (2/12/2014 at 12:02 PM)
Hi Derek,

I appreciate your reply. How can I get version 7.x? I could only find version 10 at Smartermail download page.

Diego Santos (2/18/2014 at 11:36 AM)
Diego - simply go to the SmarterMail download page, copy the Primary download link for SmarterMail, pasted it into a new browser tab but change Version=12 in the URL to Version=7 and you'll get the most recent version of SmarterMail 7.x
V. Earp, Esq. (2/18/2014 at 11:56 AM)
can anybody direct me instructions for upgrading from ver 11.x to 12.x on a winserver2008 box running plesk?
mark finguerra (2/21/2014 at 3:54 PM)
Mark, the upgrade is the same whether you have Plesk installed or not. We haven't changed any of the API hooks that SmarterMail uses when integrating with Plesk, so the move to 12.x should not cause any issues for you.
Derek Curtis (2/24/2014 at 4:26 PM)
can i upgrade from smartermail 5 to the newest version?
Carlos Carlos (2/23/2014 at 10:12 AM)
Hi, Carlos. Yes, this isn't a problem. I would advise a staggered upgrade, though, from 5.x to 7.x first as we made some file system changes in SmarterMail 7.x, so that upgrade could take some time. Then you can easily upgrade from 7.x to 12.x fairly easily. For info on how to get the 7.x installer, see my reply to Diego, above.
Derek Curtis (2/24/2014 at 4:27 PM)
obviously i have to purchase smartermail 12x entrerprise to get access to the downloads page right?
Carlos Carlos (2/26/2014 at 12:19 PM)
Carlos - we offer a free download of SmarterMail 12.x, so it's not necessary to purchase it in order to use it or test it out. However, if you're an existing licensee, then you'll need to make sure your Upgrade Protection is up-to-date in order to upgrade to SmarterMail 12.x.
Derek Curtis (2/26/2014 at 1:39 PM)
no, we have an entrerprise license for SM5, and our upgrade proteccion is no longer valid.
Carlos Carlos (2/26/2014 at 4:59 PM)
regarding --> NOTE: All configuration data and emails are preserved when upgrading from a previous major release.

So I just did an upgrade from 11.x to 12.x and tadaaaa again, as per usual, zero domains, and emails were retained. Yes sure, great the folders are there, but the xml files which manage those domains, directories, and accounts, are simply wiped.

I don't understand why either
A: it isn't an option to "update existing installation" which then backs up and/or manages the existing domains or
B: A proper tutorial exists which deals with walking through an upgrade from one version to another listing the requirement to back up manually and restore the existing domains.

Also, secondary note. The MSI installer (this is the first time I've used it), completely assumes that no existing installation exists, and doesn't take into account that this is an existing client.

You guys have good products, but from an installation due diligence, this obvious dynamic has been summarily ignored.

it's annoying to be quite honest, and a waste of time for every upgrade.

James Mendham (2/24/2014 at 1:01 AM)
James - in our testing of the 12.x major version release, we did an upgrade from 11.x to 12.x and saw no issues - all domains and emails were preserved in the upgrade. If you use the Windows unistaller to uninstall SmarterMail, it only removes the program files and doesn't touch any other SmarterMail data. I can't think of any other occasion when either a major or minor upgrade has removed these files, and we have customers across the globe doing both types of upgrades. If you're seeing something different, it may require a ticket in to our Support department.
Derek Curtis (2/24/2014 at 4:31 PM)
It would be VERY helpful if STEP 11 was at the beginning.
If you stored your activation email IN your email, it is quite hard to go back and retrieve it if you are stuck in free version but running multiple domains therefore your mailbox is useless. It would also be wise to note that you MUST be able to recall your account management credentials to complete the activation too.

Jim Vaden (4/3/2014 at 9:12 PM)
If this happens to anyone in the future. Simply login as the server admin. Mirror your email account and access your license key.
Ricky Hignite (4/29/2014 at 10:09 AM)
Something that isn't listed but is highly recommended is to reboot the server AFTER uninstalling and BEFORE you start the new install.
Ricky Hignite (4/29/2014 at 10:09 AM)
I got a fatal error during the first pass install when it tried to start the services. When I tried again, it worked. I believe your hint here is correct and would have kept me from having the error.
Clayton Vernon (12/14/2014 at 6:21 PM)
Why is it always recommended to upgrade to version 7 first? Do the versions greater than 7 somehow not contain the 'before-v7-upgrade' functionality?

Are there errors that occur when attempting to update such an old installation with a brand new installer?

Is it simply erring on the side of caution, and experience that the gold standard v7 release is known to properly upgrade ,whereas you have just simply never tested the newer ones?

I really want to understand why always that one version, and not just simply make your newer versions update the old ones properly... And yes, there are still plenty of smartermail4 and 5 customers in my datacenter...

Jay Sudowski (12/4/2014 at 3:13 AM)
Hi Mike,

In SmarterMail 7.x, users' mailbox data was reorganized and saved in a new file structure. You can read more about this in the release notes for that version. Because of the file structure change, we recommended upgrading to version 7.x first; if there are any issues with the upgrade, doing it this way could help pinpoint what caused the trouble. That being said, we've had many users report that an upgrade straight from 4.x or 5.x to 13.x has gone smoothly, and upgrading to 7.x first wasn't necessary. So our recommendation is simply to err on the side of caution. If you choose not to, just be sure to do a full backup first as SmarterMail cannot be downgraded. Should you need to revert to an older version, you'd have to restore from a backup.

If you'd like to get some feedback from other users or post about your upgrade, there is a Community thread that addresses this question as well:

Hope this helps!

Andrea Rogers (12/4/2014 at 8:29 AM)
I'm using Win7 Pro, upgrading from 11.4 to 13.0, and during the install (by the way, the default directory for me includes x86 in the folder name, of course, something recognized by the installer), there were several scary "error" messages related to not being able to create or write to a folder. Each time, I asked it to "Retry" and, shockingly, it seemed to work. This basically never happens in Windows, so I think there are some bugs on your side. An obvious candidate is trying to create a folder that already existed (wasn't removed by the uninstall), and I don't know exactly what for the "can't write to directory" error unless a thread creating it hadn't finished yet. Anyway, having said that, the process seemed to work fine in the end, and I'm very thankful for this.
Clayton Vernon (12/14/2014 at 5:17 PM)
what would it cost to have Smarter Mail update my current version 5 system to the latest? We have six users
Phil Kipnis (1/7/2015 at 12:10 AM)
Hi Phil. If you're using the free edition, your upgrade won't cost anything. You'll just follow these steps to upgrade to the latest version. If you're using a license, you'd need to reinstate the upgrade protection. That cost would depend on what product you are you using.

I see that you have a sales ticket open with Emily. If you reply to her message, letting her know what your current setup is, she'll be able to assist you further.

Andrea Rogers (1/7/2015 at 8:16 AM)
Will my license key for 12.x be valid after upgrading to 13.x or will I need a new license key?
Donavon McKigney (1/15/2015 at 1:24 PM)
Before upgrading your SmarterMail installation to version 13.x, I'd verify that your license key is valid for version 13.x. If your license had active upgrade protection at the time we released 13.x, it should have been automatically upgraded. If you're not sure what version your license is valid for, go ahead and reach out to our sales team. They can get your account information and let you know what's available. You can contact the sales team by emailing sales (at), calling 877-357-6278 or starting a live chat using the button to the left of this screen.
Andrea Rogers (1/16/2015 at 10:34 AM)
Also, in case I understood you incorrectly, if your license key is for version 13.x, you'll also be able to use this on 12.x and earlier as our licenses are backwards compatible.
Andrea Rogers (1/16/2015 at 10:35 AM)
In the past step 4 "Uninstall SmarterMail" was followed by a reboot. Is that no longer needed?
Alex S (1/16/2015 at 5:54 PM)
Hi Alex. The steps found in this article are the most accurate steps to complete your installation's upgrade. A reboot after uninstalling SmarterMail should not be necessary.
Andrea Rogers (1/19/2015 at 7:53 AM)
I just did a simple minor upgrade and now my domains are gone! The files and folders are there but I can't login using those domain accounts. My configuration for the domains is pointing at the correct folder so how do I get it restored to normal?
Dave Stuart (6/11/2015 at 7:36 PM)
Would we be able to do a straight upgrade from 11.7 to 14? Or do we need to take baby steps up to the latest version?
David Madison (7/10/2015 at 7:00 AM)
You can go to directly to 14.x.
Andrea Rogers (7/10/2015 at 8:49 AM)
Thank you Andrea!
David Madison (7/10/2015 at 12:22 PM)
Step 3: If you are running SmarterMail as an IIS site, stop IIS.
Is it really necessary to stop IIS? Could we simply stop the SmarterMail IIS site. I'd like to minimize disruption of other web sites while uninstalling/reinstalling.

Also Step 8: If you are running SmarterMail as an IIS site, make sure the default web server is stopped.
Do you mean the "Default Web Site", or default web server (meaning IIS)? And if Step 3 is followed, IIS would be off and no sites would be running anyway.

I'm just seeking clarity to make the upgrade go as fast as possible and with minimal disruption to users/site.

secretwep (7/31/2015 at 12:44 PM)
Hi John,

For step 3 you can just stop the SmarterMail site and application pool. It is not necessary to stop all of IIS.

For step 8 it is refering to the default web server that comes with SmarterMail. During the install of SmarterMail a default web server is also installed. You do not want the default web server and IIS running at the same time.

Brian Ward (7/31/2015 at 1:09 PM)
Awesome. Everything went well, all things considered. Some old, previously deleted, renamed or moved folders reappeared in all Users mail boxes. Other than that, looks good. For Step 8, you might want to mention that you are referring to a service called "SmarterMail Web Server". It needs to be switched back to "Disable" after the upgrade (if using SmarterMail as an IIS site, which I imagine is most common).
secretwep (8/3/2015 at 10:02 AM)
Brian, I run SmarterMail under IIS on a Windows 2011 Essentials server and just upgraded from SmarterMail 13.5 to 14.4 today following the directions (took IIS down, uninstalled 13.5, installed 14.4, turned IIS back on). The only snag I ran into was that I was unable to access the webmail when done until I enabled and turned on the internal SmarterMail default web server (on port 9998). After doing that I was able to log in normally via the web server (port 443) and enter branding and update license and all appears working. I've seen it specifically mentioned to NOT run the default SmarterMail server while running SmarterMail under IIS. I had the default server active for some time before turning it off prior to the upgrade. Are there any known issues resulting from keeping it running? Are you aware of it having to be on after restarting IIS to initially get back on to the IIS site so one can reactivate the license after a major upgrade?
CharlesWorks (12/20/2015 at 9:26 AM)
it is very difficult to take a backup of nearly 1 TB of data is there any alternate solution. please suggest me.
Sathiya R (11/21/2015 at 3:18 AM)
While performing a major upgrade should not cause you to lose any data, we do recommend performing a backup of your data prior. This backup method is up to you to use whatever you are most comfortable with. Check out this Community threads ideas from users:
Andrea Rogers (11/23/2015 at 8:57 AM)
Upgraded from v5.5 to v14.5 following the same steps, all email accounts are intact but the emails are not upgraded correctly. Folder structure is different where it used to be Users\[account name]\Inbox, now it is Users\[account name]\Mail\Inbox, where the installer didn't move the folder during upgrade.

The step to fix would be to move all the folders into the Mail folder, and using the Restore functionality to Rebuilt the mailbox's folders.

However, there is a quicker more efficient way to it:
1. Stop the SmarterMail service (optional rather)
2. Move the mail folders from the Users\[account]\[folder] to Users\[account]\Mail\[folder]. (not Index, FileStore folders which is not mailbox's folder itself)
*note: If there is prompt for replacing duplicate .grp file, DO NOT replace it, rather make duplicate or move it to a newly created folder, as these are newly incoming emails in the short duration when you perform this upgrade.
3. Delete all root.cfg and mailbox.cfg from [domain]\Users (do it recursively with "del /s" in command prompt).
4. Restart the SmarterMail service.

Hope it helps fellows admins if you are upgrading the same.

Choong Seng Chen (1/30/2016 at 4:06 PM)
V14 > v15 upgrade was flawless. Good job on both the instructions and software.
Happy campers!

Daniel Comp (4/21/2016 at 3:26 PM)
Thanks Daniel!
Andrea Rogers (4/28/2016 at 1:02 PM)
V14 to V15 (IIS 8.5 win2012r2) upgraded without problems just executing the installer (didn't need to stop iis nor uninstall v14), reactivated the license at the end.
May I upgrade another server with Upgrade Protection expired?

Support Noitel (4/27/2016 at 2:47 PM)
Glad to hear your upgrade went well! Please keep in mind, though, that we always recommend uninstalling the previous version first when doing a major upgrade. Installing on top of the old version can cause some big problems in most cases.

As for the upgrade, it depends on when the upgrade protection expired. If your upgrade protection expired at version 14.x, you can upgrade to the latest minor version available for 14. To get to the latest version of the software, 15.x, you would need to reinstate the upgrade protection. I'll send you a ticket to discuss your licensing further and provide some quotes on getting you updated.

Andrea Rogers (4/28/2016 at 12:58 PM)
Can I upgrade Smarter mail V14.x straight shot direct to V15.x(lates)?
philip (12/27/2016 at 6:38 PM)
Yes, Philip. This article contains the steps you should take to upgrade from 14.x to 15.x.
Andrea Rogers (12/29/2016 at 2:17 PM)
We will upgrade from very old v4.x to v15.x(latest)
Have bought a new licence.
At the same time we have to move SM to a w2k8 server.
How much do we have to copy from old server to new?
What's the best way to do the whole procedure?

Lennart Eliasson (1/24/2017 at 4:46 PM)
Hi Lennart! You should start by migrating SmarterMail 4.x to the new server by following the steps in the article linked below. When 4.x is up and running on the new server, you can begin your upgrade to 15.x. Keep in mind, in version 7.x, the structure of the server files weas changed. Typically we recommend upgrading first to 7.x and then to 15.x, though we've had users report this isn't totally necessary. If you have any trouble on the upgrade though, you may need to reach out to the sales team for a tool to convert your file structure. Let us know if you need any assistance!

Andrea Rogers (1/25/2017 at 10:34 AM)
Is this the same procedure for upgrading to 16.x?
Jason Cross (5/17/2017 at 6:19 PM)
Yes, an upgrade to 16.x works the same as any other major upgrade.
Derek Curtis (6/5/2017 at 8:06 AM)
Why we need to take backup complete data folder its very difficult if it is more than 1 TB. it required more downtime. is this mandatory to take backup of smarter mail domains folder
Sathiya R (6/3/2017 at 11:50 PM)
Hi Sathiya, a backup of your SmarterMail data is not REQUIRED with an upgrade. You can do one without performing this step; however, it's highly recommended to backup your data beforehand. You would not want to be found in a situation where the upgrade fails for whatever reason and your domain data is potentially lost. Keeping a backup is good practice, especially before a major upgrade.
Andrea Rogers (6/5/2017 at 1:43 PM)
We are running Smartermail 13x. Can we upgrade direct to the latest 16x?
Madoda Khuzwayo (4/28/2018 at 12:50 AM)
You can, Madoda! Please be sure to review the System Requirements first, as SmarterMail 16.x does require installation on Windows Server 2012 R2 or higher.

16.x System Requirements:

I'd also recommend that you review the Release Notes, as there are some important items to note before you upgrade. Specifically, please understand that due to the significant changes in SmarterMail 16.x, a downgrade will not be possible. Be sure to do a complete backup prior to upgrading, and if possible, test out the interface and upgrade on a VM or testing machine.

SmarterMail 16 Release Notes:

Andrea Rogers (4/30/2018 at 8:21 AM)
Is this the same procedure for upgrading from 16.x to 17.x?
anhnv mr (3/20/2019 at 6:42 PM)
Yes, the process is the same for the current builds.
Derek Curtis (3/21/2019 at 4:08 AM)
hi..anyone got experience upgrading from v14.5 to latest one?
is there any major issue with it?

philip (11/21/2019 at 1:12 AM)
Hi Philip. When upgrading from 14.x to the latest, you should step through version 15.x. So first, upgrade to version 15.x. Then upgrade to the latest build. During the upgrade to the latest, your domains will go through a conversion process, as explained here:
Andrea Rogers (11/21/2019 at 7:11 AM)
Hi andrea,

Can i pm you directly regarding this?
I need to know the whole step for the upgrade..

philip (3/6/2020 at 1:33 AM)