PST! Great tip for migrating email...


Microsoft have done an excellent job in producing tools to automate migration into Exchange Online from past versions of Exchange (2000,2003,2007,2010 and 2013) - all with various levels of automation; see http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2798131/en-gb. Exchange can even import from non-Microsoft email accounts using IMAP. However, in the real-life battlefield of a typical office environment it is, ironically, the best-in-class Office app, Outlook, that often causes the hearts of IT managers to sink as they read the output of the automated tool: "Failed mailbox(es)". In such all-too-often-true outcomes they're left to pick up the causalities, whilst avoiding the crossfire from frustrated mailbox users who forgot which aliases were associated with their mailbox and claim that the local calendar and local contacts in Outlook were on the server! Thankfully, help is at hand in the form of our trusted friend, the PST file.


Advantages:

  • Exports (and imports) all data within Outlook, including calendars/contacts/notes created by users on their local computer
  • Can be delegated to be run by individual user(s), saving IT staff time
  • PST file created on local PC
    • Upon installation of Outlook Office 365 data can be speedily imported and ready for access by user
    • Reduces strain on network bandwidth as email is synchronized gradually

Warnings:

  • Large mailboxes (10 GB+) can take over an hour to export on older hardware, during which time users only have access to their mailbox using OWA (Outlook Web Access)


Instructions for users to export everything in Outlook to a PST file (taken from http://support.microsoft.com/kb/287070)

Outlook 2010 onwards:

  • Click the File tab
  • In the Outlook Options window, click Advanced
  • Click Export
  • In the Import and Export Wizard, click Export to a file, and then click Next
  • Click Outlook Data File (.pst), and then click Next
  • Select the folder to export, and then click Next.


    IMPORTANT: Select the root folder (mailbox) and tick the box "Include subfolders"
  • Click Browse, and then select the location where you want the new .pst file to be saved. Tip: Use C:\_o365-Export\
  • In the File Name box, type the name that you want to use for the new .pst file, and then click OK. Tip: Use filename "outlook.pst"
  • Click Finish


Earlier versions of Outlook:

  • On the File menu, click Import And Export. If the menu item is not available, move your pointer over the chevrons at the bottom of the menu, and then click Import and Export
  • Click Export To File, and then click Next
  • Click Personal Folder File (.pst), and then click Next
  • Click the folder to which you want to export the .pst file, and then click Next
    O365_Outlook_2002_PST.png

IMPORTANT: Select the root folder (mailbox) and tick the box "Include subfolders"

  • Click Browse, and then select the location where you want the new .pst file to be saved. Tip: Use C:\_o365-Export\
  • In the File Name box, type the name that you want to use for the new .pst file, and then click OK. Tip: Use filename "outlook.pst"
  • Click Finish

Importing

Note: If importing to the same computer, remove the old email account first - if Exchange Server go to Control Panel > Mail and remove the old profile

Once the desktop version of Outlook for Office 365 has been installed and connected to the new email account in the Cloud, importing is pretty much the same as above but in reverse:

Make sure that the box "Include subfolders" is ticked, and that the items are being imported into the "same folder".



If you choose to use this method for isolated problem cases, or by default for all users, you'll be sure to have a more reliable outcome that many of the automated tools. Either way, we hope that this article will prove helpful as you migrate into Exchange Online.