Migrate PST files to Office 365. Top four easy-to-follow methods

how to migrate pst file to office 365

In this today’s world where more and more users are switching from on-premise exchange servers to Office 365 cloud services. The question “how to migrate PST file to Office 365” is on constantly on the rise. 

There are various reasons to switch to Office 365 such as Office 365 accounts being much more cost effective than having an on-premise exchange server. The fact that the online services will be maintained by Microsoft, while also taking care of the security updates makes it tempting for the organizations to switch. 

Microsoft does encourage users to perform PST to Office 365 online migration and helps the users to get their on-premise data up and running on Office 365. In this article, we will be taking a look at some of the methods that Microsoft provides as well as an automated tool that we can use for the same. Let us now look at what are some other reasons why an organization might want to switch to Office 365. 


Different Reasons to Migrate PST file to Office 365 Webmail

We have already discussed some of the reasons why a user might want to switch to Office 365. Let us now look at some more reasons why an organization might want to import PST to Office 365 webmail

  • Compared to an on-premise exchange server office 365 saves a lot of infrastructure and maintenance costs. 
  • Additional mailbox storage space can be gained by enabling mailbox archiving. 
  • Helps to store all data in one place in a centralized way. 
  • The contents in the PST file can be preserved by importing them into Office 365. 
  • Allows better search options since the eDiscovery tool can be used. 
  • Custom user-preferred retention policies can be set after importing the PST file to Office 365. 
  • The user can easily check and audit all the mailbox events using the Office 365 audit log. 
  • Protects the data in the PST file against the risk of data loss. 
  • Migrating PST files to Office 365 enables the user more access to the data in them since the cloud data can be accessed by the user from anywhere considering a network connection is present.

Potential Problems While You Migrate PST file to Office 365

  • Importing PST files is a complicated task since it involves migrating data from an on-premise to cloud servers.
  • There could be issues with spam filtering. Hence users must configure spam filtering before importing data to Office 365. 
  • The email address of the user might change while importing the data to Office 365 as an address that ends with onmicrosoft.com 
  • There are chances of facing a DNS issue that could potentially need the user to reset the file server permissions. 
  • The IT admin will not have any control over the management process,  software upgrades, or on any other administrative tasks.


What are Different Methods to Migrate PST File to Office 365?

There are a couple of ways a user can use to import the PST file to cloud services. Out of these three of them are manual methods and one is using an automated tool. Let us take a look at them now.


Steps for Migrating PST File to Office 365 Using Outlook 

In this method, we will be using Microsoft Outlook for moving the data to Office 365. 

  • Click on the top left corner and open the file menu in Outlook 
  • Click on add account and enter your email address.
  • Click on the advanced option and select let me set up my account manually and click on connect option. 
  • Select the account type as IMAP and continue. 

Enter your password and click on connect option.

Once you have configured your account on Outlook now we need to import the PST file. 


  • Go to the File tab again and this time select import/export from open and export. 
  • Chose the option “Import from another program or file”. 
  • Select PST file and click on next. 
  • Select your PST file by navigating to its path. 
  • Chose the option to import the contents into your Office 365 mailbox and click on finish. 


Once the process gets over your data will be imported to your Office 365 account. 



One of the main problems with this approach is that the user has to import multiple PST files into multiple accounts. Then the user has to configure each of the accounts separately and then import the data into them. This can be a deal-breaker if the user wants has a lot of PST files to import. 


Steps For Migrating PST file To Office 365 Using Network Upload. 

The admin account is the first and foremost requirement for performing this method. 

If you don’t have the admin credentials then this method can not be executed. This method uses the Office 365 import service for performing the above-mentioned process. 

  • Install Azure AzCopy tool. This will import the files into Office 365. Copy the SAS URL, which is a combination of the network URLs for the Azure storage location in Office 365 plus the Shared Access Signature. 
  • Get permission to upload PST files to Azure storage location using the SAS key admin. 
  • Admin can now move data files into Azure storage location using AzCopy tool. 
  • Once the PST files are migrated to the cloud storage a CSV file that defines the mailboxes corresponding to each PST file must be made. 
  • Finally, the admin must create an import job in Office 365 that will use the information from the CSV file to import PST files to the corresponding Office 365 user mailbox.

Limitations of This Method

  • It can be very time-consuming to perform. 
  • Items larger than 150 MB simply can’t be uploaded. 
  • PST files that are larger than 20GB are known to cause issues. 
  • Data from the PST file can not be filtered. 
  • A highly skilled and technically well-versed user is required to execute this process. 
  • High chances of corruption or data loss while executing the process. 


Migrate PST File To Office 365 Using Drive Shipping

 In this method, the admin transfers the PST data files into physical hardware and encrypts it using software like Bitlocker, and then physically sends the drive to Microsoft. Then the Microsoft personnel will perform the Network upload process for you. 

Note: You still need to have admin privileges to provide to Microsoft employees to perform this method. 

Once the files are uploaded into your Office 365 mailbox you can decrypt them using your key and access your data. 

Also read: How to Extract Bulk Attachments from EML?


  • This method requires a lot of time from transferring the files to the hardware to shipping it to Microsoft, it might weeks if not months to get your data to be accessible.
  • Files larger than 150 MB will be skipped since they can not be uploaded using this method. 
  • Data can not be filtered from the PST file. 
  • It has a very high cost of importing data $2/GB. 
  • Chances of data loss while importing or shipping the data. 


Migrating PST Files to Office 365 Using Professional Tool 

  • From the above, we can clearly understand that using the manual method has a lot of limitations. All these limitations can be solved using the Secure Office 365 PST Import Tool.  Let us take a look at the steps to use this tool. 
    • Open the link above download install and open the tool.
    • Check on the “Is Office Admin” option and log in with your admin credentials and select the account you want in the next window.
    • Allow the required permissions and validate them. After this click on the “OK” button and sign in. 
    • Click on the add folder button navigate to the folder containing your PST file and open it. 
    • If you just want to add one PST file then click on add files. 
    • Once all the files are imported provide a destination email address corresponding to the PST file and click on the authenticate button. You can also use a CSV file for the same.
    • In this menu select the category of files that you want to import by checking on the boxes near them and if required apply filters. 
    • Check the “include folder” option if you want to include any extra folders.
    • If the imported data has to be created in a separate folder click on “Attach Outlook PST file”
    • An option to perform increment import is also provided which allows the users to skip all the data that is already present and import only the new data.
    • If you don’t wish to import deleted and sent items then check on the “Exclude Deleted Item” and “Exclude Sent Items” options. Once everything is selected click on the import button.
    • You can view the status of the import progress on the next page. If needed the import report can be downloaded as a CSV file.


Importing/ Migrating PST files to Office 365 can be a difficult process for the user. Especially if the user is using manual methods to achieve it. As we have seen using manual methods can be tedious and time-consuming for the average user. Office 365 provides cost-effectiveness and ease of maintenance this can not be ignored. Hence we recommend using the above-mentioned tool for an easy and seamless experience. 

Also read: How to Migrate Teams From One Tenant to Another?



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