Exporting Office 365 mailboxes to PSTs & Importing PSTs to Office 365

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Being able to export Office 365 mailboxes to PSTs is a common requirement in the modern IT environment. Whether it’s creating an offline backup of mailboxes or copying them onto a transferable drive – there are any number of reasons why you may need to perform this export. The reverse it also true – you may find yourself in a situation where you need to import PSTs into Office 365. In either case, this article will enable you to perform the process manually and show you an alternative that may make the whole thing simpler.

Native Export/Import

Exporting Office 365 mailboxes to PSTs using native means

  1. Login to Office 365 and go to ‘Admin’.
  2. Select ‘Exchange’ option in the left corner of the ‘Office 365 admin center’.
  3. Click on ‘permissions’ and select ‘Discovery management’ under ‘admin roles’.
  4. Next you will have to add your account to the Members list in the Discovery Management role group properties window using the ‘+’ button. Ensure that you assign the following roles to yourself: Mailbox Import Export (for exporting mailboxes) and Mailbox Search (for searching in the mailboxes).
  5. Go to ‘compliance management’ in ‘Exchange admin center’ and click the ‘+’ symbol to start ‘in-place eDiscovery & hold’ wizard.
  6. Select the ‘Don’t search any mailboxes’ option and click ‘Next’. Else, if you want to search in the mailboxes and export only the search result, select that option.
  7. In the next step, you will get several filtering options. Apply the required filters to search for the required messages.
  8. To export the search results to a PST, click the ‘down arrow’ button. In the new dialog box specify the location to save the PST file and start the export.

Uploading PST files to Office 365 using native tools

  1. Login in to Office 365 using the administrator credentials.
  2. Go to the Import page and select ‘Go to the Import service’.
  3. ‘Import files to Office 365’ page will open up, click ‘New job Add Icon’, and then click ‘Upload files over the network’ to open that page. Here you will get the option to download ‘Azure AzCopy’ tool. A new window will open up, click Run to install the Azure AzCopy tool in the default location.
  4. Once the tool has been installed, the next step is to copy and save Shared Access Signature (SAS) and the network upload URL to a file. For that you will have to go to the ‘Upload files over the network’ page and use ‘Copy network upload SAS key’ under ‘Copy secure network upload SAS key’ and ‘Show URL for PST files’ under ‘Copy the secure network upload URL’ to copy and save key and URL to a file.
  5. Next, use AzCopy.exe tool to upload PST files to Office 365. For that, open the Command Prompt on your local computer. Go to the directory where you installed the AzCopy.exe tool in Step 3.
  6. Run the following command to upload the PST files to Office 365:

    AzCopy.exe /Source:<Location of PST files> /Dest:<Network upload URL + PST file path> /DestSAS:<SAS key> /V:<Log file location>

Lepide Exchange Recovery Manager
The native processes for this task are perhaps not the easiest or most user-friendly – consisting of a mix of text-based interface and GUI along with multiple steps to navigate. Third-party solutions, such as Lepide Exchange Recovery Manager, allow you to simplify the process whilst giving you more flexibility at the same time.

Let’s take a look at how to perform the same export and import but this time using Lepide Exchange Recovery Manager.

Exporting Office 365 mailboxes to PSTs using Lepide Exchange Recovery Manager

For this, you will have to add Office 365 mailboxes in source and then export the mailboxes to PSTs.

  1. Launch the application and start the Add Source wizard. On the first screen select the ‘OWA/Office 365’ option (as shown in the image below). In the next screen, you will be prompted to enter Office 365 credentials (enter user credentials who has full rights over mailboxes) and select to add single or multiple mailboxes as needed. After that all the Office 365 mailboxes which have been added will be shown in the source pane.

    Figure 1: Adding Office 365 as source

  2. Next, right-click on the Office 365 domain and select ‘Export mailboxes…’ option as shown in the image below.

    Figure 2: Select Export mailboxes option

  3. The Export wizard will start. You will get the following options in this wizard:
    • Select one or more than one mailbox for exporting.
    • Split PST file if size exceeds 2 GB.
    • Filter messages by Item Type and Date Range.
    • Create Unicode PST files if required.

    As per requirement, select any of the above mentioned options and click on the Export button, and the selected mailboxes will be exported to PSTs.

    Figure 3: Exporting mailboxes to PSTs

This way we are at the top of the process from the very beginning. We can select which mailboxes to export, which messages to export, and see the progress .

Uploading PSTs to Office 365 using Lepide Exchange Recovery Manager

For this task, all you will need to do is simply add PSTs in source, add Office 365 in destination and do a simple copy-paste from PSTs to Office 365.

  1. Start the Add Source wizard and this time select ‘Outlook PST File’ on the first screen. Click Next, select the files that you want to add. You can select multiple PSTs for adding. After the wizard is complete, you will see all the PSTs in the source panel.

    Figure 4: Add PST files

  2. Start the ‘Add Destination’ wizard and select ‘OWA/Office 365’ option. Enter user credentials for Office 365 who has full rights over mailboxes. Select if you want to connect single or multiple mailboxes. The following image shows these options. Click Next.

    Figure 5: Office 365 user credentials

  3. After the source (PSTs) and Destination (Office 365) have been added there are three ways by which you can upload PSTs to Office 365:
    Copy Mailboxes: Copy the entire mailbox from PST and paste it into Office 365 mailbox.
    Copy Folders: Copy-Paste selected folders from PST to Office 365.
    Copy Messages: Copy-Paste messages granularly from PST to Office 365.In the below image we are copying messages granularly from PST.

    Figure 6: Copying messages from PST

The following image shows pasting the copied messages in the Office 365 mailbox.

Figure 7: Pasting messages in Office 365

As you can see from the images, using Lepide Exchange Recovery Manager transforms would could be a difficult process into a simply copy and paste job. It also gives you a high-level of security as no one without full access rights over mailboxes can do these tasks.

It is entirely possible to perform Office mailbox to PST exports and vice versa using native methods alone. However, as you can see from the multiple precise steps that you need to take, it is not a particularly user-friendly or speedy process. The modern IT team is under increasing pressure to streamline business processes wherever they can, and performing tasks like this manually can be seen a waste of time. Using third-party solutions, like Lepide Exchange Recovery Manager, can simplify the process through automatic source to destination data transfer and a user-friendly GUI interface – freeing up IT teams to focus on contributing to the bottom line.

Written by Lepide Software

Lepide Software – Exchange Server recovery, server migration, IT auditing, security and compliance vendor