I had example.com on server1 but I moved to server2 because the hosting company was not responding to support tickets. My files and settings and also Email accounts are still on server1 but the domain NS are now set to point to server2. To access the archive of website on the old server I am going to register a new domain and attach it to the old one. My exact question is that if I can also access the mail boxes and attachments of old email accounts by some setting like domain alias and website pointer etc.?

How should I setup the new domain so old user e.g [email protected] can now login with [email protected] and access their old emails and attachments?

  • NS records need to point to a DNS server. I'm not sure why you have them pointing to a mail server. It would be fairly unusual (and inadvisable) to use the same server for both mail and DNS. Usually you should just have your MX records pointing to your mail server. Dec 24, 2020 at 18:35
  • Mail server and website server are different and I did no change on them. I just want to login to old email accounts using new email accounts (on new domain) without losing data. @StephenOstermiller Dec 24, 2020 at 19:22
  • 1
    If you just want to access the old mail server why not specify it by IP address in your pop/IMAP client rather then mess around needlessly with another domain name?
    – davidgo
    Dec 24, 2020 at 19:29
  • @davidgo Does using ip still work with old usernames e.g. [email protected] ? Dec 24, 2020 at 19:54
  • Changing your NS records changes your DNS hosting. Unless you take care to replicate all your records from one DNS host to the other, it will change both your email and web hosting. How did you do it without affecting your web hosting? Dec 24, 2020 at 19:57

1 Answer 1


From the question and particular the comments it appears to me that an explanation of how email works is in order - because the premise of the question is very flawed. Below is a "101" overview of how email servers work.

An eMail server typically comprises multiple services - A service for delivery between computers (MTA - mail transfer agent) called SMTP, and services used for end users to check their email (MUA - Mail user agent) - like POP3, IMAP and Microsoft Exchanges protocol.

When email is delivered between machines there is a 2 part process to work out how to find the appropriate machine. The first step - which is now standard is look up a special record in the DNS called an MX (Mail Exchange) record. This provides the domain name of the mail server which is resolved into an IP addres, and mail is delivered to it. You need to know that an MX record is simply a reference to a machine name - so to change how mail works you don't need to change any nameservers, and you can handle email independently of other services like web service.

A throwback to old days is that if there is no MX record, a mail server can try resolve the record for the domain name its delivering email from directly. Doing this is technically allowed because of legacy requirements before the DNS system existed but is a bad idea - and indicates whoever is handling email lacks even basic competency. The question appears to incorrectly assume this mode of delivery is the norm.

POP3, IMAP and Exchange protocols simply listen on a port and can pull emails from disk and provide them to a client after authenticating the user. The protocols differ in how they synchronise email between multiple clients and the commands used for authentication.

None of the protocols require a domain name for people to connect to the server - the server is accessible by IP address only. Whenever you use a domain name for an SMTP/IMAP/POP server your mail software is simply doing a lookup to get its IP address and is then connecting to that. ** Only after the connection is established to the IP address of the mail server is email requested - and the mailbox - which is often the email address - provided by the client to the server with the contents of the mail box being provided after authentication. Thus, even if there is a mail server that already has mailboxes set up with data in them, even if there is no DNS, it is practical to retrieve the email.

For further clarification - to check email from a POP3 server the communication could be emulated along the following lines (IMAP is similar) :

CLIENT:  telnet ip.addr.of.server 110
SERVER:  Connected to ip.addr.of.server.
         +OK Server ready.
CLIENT:  user [email protected]
CLIENT:  pass PasswordGoesHere
CLIENT:  list
SERVER:   (provides a list of numbers - XXX - associated with emails)
SERVER:   (sends the email associated with number XXX)

Note that provided the IP address of the mail server is known, DNS is entirely unnecessary in recovering the email.

There is one minor exception to this - when you are using secure versions of the protocols. In these cases there is an additional step where the there is an attempt to verify the domain name of the machine you are trying to connect to. If you use IP addresses there is every likelyhood that this will throw up a warning because the IP address you connected to does not match the domain name associated with the servers certificate. As this is a client side thing this error can be ignored if you are confident that no one is trying to intercept your communications)

  • Thank you for complete discussion. There was a few thing missing. Can I still connect to old mailboxes using the Mail server IP with old user name which contains the old detached domain name? e.g. [email protected] Dec 24, 2020 at 23:24
  • 1
    (For the third time) yes. (At least for all the mail servers I'm familiar with)
    – davidgo
    Dec 25, 2020 at 0:19

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