Friday, 9 August 2013

BT's closure of free email services

If you've ever had a BT internet service in the past, the chances are you have an email address on one of their free services - these are binternet.com, btopenworld.com & talk21.com email addresses. But something you may have missed is that they are closing their free email services on the 16th September 2013, which means you don't have long to decide what to do. Yes, BT kindly sent out an email to everyone letting them know but the subject simply looked like yet another T&Cs change and, let's face it, few of us actually bother to read those emails - I certainly didn't! Thankfully I'm not the only one in the office who uses a BT account, and the question of 'what do I do now?' that was raised when this email arrived was brought this thorny issue to my attention.

So what are BT doing?

According to the email, and the BT website, they are making improvements to their mail service so that means that they are now closing all the BT Basic Mail services and any email services that have been left active once a customer left BT. But in reality what they appear to be doing is forcing their email users to either opt for their broadband service or pay a monthly email fee. If you're a BT broadband customer your email address will stay the same and you will be moved to their new service.

What are my options?

BT are offering three options:
  1. If you're a BT broadband customer you can keep your email address and link it to your broadband account
  2. If you're not a BT broadband customer you can sign up to their broadband service and link your email address to your new broadband account
  3. If you're not a BT broadband customer and you are happy with your current service you can keep your email address by signing up for their Premium Mail Service at a cost of £1.60 per month.
This is simply saying that you've got to pay for your BT email address now, one way or another. We won't be changing to BT broadband as we get a much faster service, and better all round package, from Virgin Media. Despite living close to the main exchange in our town we never achieved a good speed from BT and to match what we currently get would vastly increase our expenditure on broadband. And I suspect that this is the case for many.

But I don't want to change my broadband provider or pay for the email address, what do I do now?

This was the question raised in our office this week. We all have a number of email accounts these days, with our broadband provider, with our Android or iOS device, maybe a standard Yahoo! email or a Gmail account. You need to decide which of these you want to now use as your main account and start going through your subscriptions and all your contacts to update your details to your new account. I've decided to use my Gmail account that I got with my first Android phone, and so far have contacted friends and family to let them know my new email address and I've changed my Twitter account and updated my contact details on my account with my gym.

But there's a lot more to it than this, particularly if you have ever used your BT email account for business - or have an archive of emails and attachments that you want to keep. To keep all of this you're going to need to archive your emails, and since the changes a few months ago to the BT webmail service this isn't a quick and easy task.

Archiving your emails

Before you start archiving you need to log in to your BT email account through your web browser and allow your account to be accessed elsewhere. To do this hover over the cog in the top right of the screen and select 'Mail Settings' from the menu. Click on 'POP & Forwarding' in the advanced options and select the first option 'Access BT Yahoo! Mail via POP', make a selection from the dropdown regarding your Spam email folder, and then click on the 'Save' button.

To archive your emails you're going to need an email client, such as Outlook, Outlook Express/Windows Live Mail, Thunderbird or Mac Mail. Open your chosen email client and add a new account:
  • Outlook 2010 and above:

    Click on the File tab, click the 'Add Account' button, and use the Auto Account setup to connect to your BT email account.

    Once you have created the account click on the 'Account Settings' button on the File tab, double click on the new email address to change the account settings. Change the username in the Logon information block to your full BT email address.

    Click on the 'More Settings' button and select the 'Advanced' tab. Uncheck the 'Leave a copy of messages on the server' button as you will need to use your inbox as a transfer storage area while archiving. Click 'OK', 'Next' and 'Finish'

    Repeat for each BT email account you have
  • Windows Live Mail:

    Click on the first tab, select Options > Email accounts. Click 'Add' and select the 'Email account' type. Enter your email address and password.

    Once the account has been created select it in the accounts list and click on the 'Properties' button. Select the 'Servers' tab and change the Email username in the Incoming mail server section to your email address.

    Click on the 'Advanced' tab and uncheck the 'Leave a copy of messages on the server' button as you will need to use your inbox as a transfer storage area while archiving. Click 'OK' and 'Close'

    Repeat for each BT email account you have
  • For Thunderbird follow this tutorial: https://support.mozillamessaging.com/en-US/kb/automatic-account-configuration
  • For Mac Mail follow this tutorial: http://www.macinstruct.com/node/206
Now that you're connected to your BT email address you need to replicate the file structure - you can add folders to your inbox by right-clicking on the inbox and selecting the add new folder, or new folder option (this may vary from client to client). We found it helpful to have the webmail access open in our browser on one side of the screen and the email client open on the other side of the screen.

Once you've replicated your folder structure you can start downloading your emails. Start with your inbox. Click on the Send/Recieve button on your client and the full contents of your inbox will download to your computer and be deleted from your webmail. You'll need to sort these emails - or put them into a 'to be sorted' folder - otherwise you're going to be hunting through these to find your archived emails in the next step.

Once your inbox is clear on both your webmail and email client you can start transferring your archived emails from their folders. Sadly POP email doesn't allow you to automatically replicate your folders and simply pull their contents down, so you need to move everything from the folders back into your inbox. This is why it's so important to clear your inbox first. Take it one folder at a time and select all the emails in that folder - with the btinternet accounts this is quite easy, just scroll to the bottom of the email list and click on the select all checkbox at the top of the screen, with talk21 accounts you can only do this 25 messages at a time. With the messages all selected (checked) you can now use the 'Move' option at the top of the screen and select Inbox. Your emails will now disappear from the folder you are transferring and appear in your inbox. Once they're all there, go to your email client and click on the Send/Receive button. Wait for the emails to download and then select them all by single clicking on the first email then scrolling to the bottom of the inbox and pressing Shift while clicking on the last email. Now drag your emails to the duplicated folder in your email client and they will be moved en masse from your inbox to your archive folder. Repeat for every folder in your inbox, and then for your sent folder.

Repeat this for all your BT email accounts and you will now have a full archive of your emails and attachments. Once you have done this you should now stop using the webmail access for your BT email accounts and use your email client on your computer as it will automatically download all your emails and you can either delete them or archive them as you would through your browser. Once BT close these accounts your email will no longer work and you will need to disable the Send/Receive option for these accounts. There are tutorials online to show you how to do this, for example this one for Outlook, and this for Thunderbird.