How to Import PST file into Office 365 – Step-by-Step

If you are switching over to Office 365 you probably want to take your old email with you. The idea of an empty mailbox may be nice, but in the end, you probably need your old email as well. To get your mail into Office 365 we are going to Import a PST file.

Now there are multiple options to do this, each with its own use case. Small mailboxes can be done in Outlook, for large mailboxes you are better off with an Import tool like Azure AzCopy or one of the third-party tools.

In this article, I will explain both methods for importing PST files into Office 365 and we will take a look at some of the third-party tools that are available.

Import PST file with Outlook

So let’s start with the easiest option, using Outlook self to import the PST file. You can use this method if you only need to import a single or a couple of mailboxes. I assume you already have the PST file, if not further down this article I have explained you can create one from your current mailbox.

Import PST file to Office 365 with Outlook
  • Open Outlook and click on File
  • Select Open & Export
  • Click on Import/Export
  • Select Import from another program of file (default selected)
  • Select Outlook Data File (.pst)
  • Select the file you want to import
  • On the next screen, you can select what you want to import and where.
  • Click Finish to start importing

Depending on the size of your PST file it can take some time to import all the mail. Again, this method is quick and easy but only use it for small and a single or couple of mailboxes. If you have to import big PST files or to a lot of mailboxes, then you can better use the free Azure services for this.

Import PST file to Office 365 with Azure AzCopy

If you need to import a lot of mailboxes you can either upload them to Azure storage or use the drive shipping service from Microsoft. The network upload is completely free, but uploading the files may take some time.

Drive shipping, on the other hand, will cost you around $2 per GB of data. So that can get pretty expensive but is a better option if you need to import a couple of hundred mailboxes or more.

Preparation

Before we can start importing you will need to assign the Mailbox Import Export role to the Global Admins in Exchange Online. Unfortunately, it can take up to 24 hours before this change is processed.

Assign mail import export role in exchange
  • Open the Exchange Admin Center, through https://admin.portal.com, and go to Permissions.
  • In the admin roles, open the Organisation Management role.
  • Click on the plus to add a role
  • Select the Mailbox Import Export role and click Save

Now Microsoft says it can take up to 24 hours before the change is applied, but in my case, I could create a new Import Job after 5 min. Simply log out, close all Microsoft tabs, and log in again.

Creating a New Import Job

So with the permissions set, we can create a new Import Job. Go to https://compliance.office.com and click on Information governance > import.

  • Select Import PST Files
  • Click on New Import Job
  • Choose if you want to upload or ship your data. We are going to Upload it
Import pst office 365

On the summary page, we will find the SAS URL that we need later and a download link to the latest version of the Azure AzCopy tool. Download and install the Azure AzCopy tool and copy the SAS Url.

Keep the SAS Url private because it gives you access to the Azure storage where all your PST files are uploaded.

You can leave the screen open or click Cancel and Continue later on.

Uploading the file with the Azure AzCopy Tool

After you have installed the Azure AzCopy tool you can open it. The tool is nothing more than a command-line tool to upload files.

The upload tool will upload all the pst files in the source folder, it’s not possible to select a single pst file. So if you want to test it with one file, make sure you put it in a separate folder.

We are going to use the following command to upload the files.

AzCopy copy "/path/to/pstfiles" <SAS URL> --recursive=true

If your pst files are located in subfolders as well then you can use the --recursive=true switch to specify the recursive mode.

Make sure you use quotes around the source and dest paths, otherwise, you will get an error that the syntax is incorrect.

Azure AzCopy Tool

Depending on the size of the files it will take some time to upload the pst files.

Checking the uploaded PST Files (optional)

After the files are uploaded you might want to check it your self if all the pst files are uploaded to the Azure Storage. Download the Azure Storage Explorer and install it.

After you opened the Storage Explorer you will need to add an account.

  • Click on Add an account…
  • Select Use a shared access signature (SAS) URI
  • Pass the SAS URI that we got from the import job
  • Click Next and Connect

After you have verified the PST files you can close the Storage Explorer. Make sure you right-click the ingestiondata in the explorer and click Detach to disconnect. Otherwise, you will get an error the next time you want to open it.

Mapping the PST Files

The next step is to map the PST files to the mailbox in Office 365. You can use a CSV file, a template for it can be downloaded here at Microsoft.

In the CSV file you will find a couple of columns/parameters:

Mapping PST File for import
  • Workload – For pst import to the user’s mailbox, leave this on Exchange
  • FilePath – If you only have the pst file in the root folder, then you can leave this empty. If you have used subfolders, then enter here the name of the subfolder.
  • Name – If the name of the pst file self
  • Mailbox – The mailbox you want to import to
  • IsArchive – You can import the pst file to the user’s online archive folder. Set it to true or false.
  • TargetRootFolder – If you leave this blank, then the files will be imported to a new folder named Imported in the user’s mailbox. If you want to merge the data with the existing folders (like inbox and sent items) then use only a /

You can ignore the other fields, just leave them empty.

Completing the import job

After you have mapped all the pst files we can complete the import job. Go back to protection.office.com and open the import job.

  • Select I’m done uploading my files and I have access to the mapping file
  • Click Next and select the mapping file (csv file)
  • Click on Validate to validate the CSV file
  • Click on Save when the validation is complete

Your new import job will be analyzed before you can actually start importing. Again, depending on the size this can be done in a couple of minutes or longer. Just click refresh to check the status.

After the analysis is completed we can actually import the pst file into Office 365.

Import PSt file to Office 365

Click on ready to import to Office 365 to start the import. On the next screen, we will have to click again on Import to Office 365.

You can now filter the data, like only the mail from x years old, or exclude all mail where the user is in the CC. When you are done filtering, or if you just want to import everything, simply click on Import data to start the import job.

The import job itself may take some time, for this article, I used a 6 MB pst file, and even after 30 minutes the status was still on “import in progress”. The great thing is that you don’t have to wait on it, you can simply close the screen and check back later.

Using a Migration Tools

There are also third-party tools available to import PST files into Office 365. The problem with the method described above is that you need to upload the PST files manually, map the files with an Excel file, and it’s hard to check during the process if everything works as expected. You don’t have these problems with third-party tools. They give you a lot more feedback during each step and make it a lot easier to map the PST files.

Stellar Migrator for Outlook

Stellar Migrator for Outlook allows you to quickly import PST files to Office 365. The interface had the look and feel of Outlook, which make it easy to work with. You can migrate multiple PST files to Office 365 and also password-protected PST files. The detailed logging function ensures that you can always track back what happened during the migration.

Steller Migrator for Outlook
Steller Migrator for Outlook

What I really like about these tools is that you can preview the inbox before you start the migration. This gives you much more control and allows you to verify each step in the migration process.

SysTools Import PST to Office 365

Another good tool to import PST files to Office 365 is SysTools Import PST to Office 365 (25% discount with code “LAZYAD25OFF“). Just like Stellar you can select multiple PST files, map each file to the correct mailbox and choose what you want to import.

For a single mailbox is this overkill, but if you have to migrate 10 or more mailboxes, existing of probably multiple PST files per mailbox then this tool is a real-time-saver. It makes the migration a lot easier and one of the best parts, it comes with incremental import.

So you do an initial import during normal office hours, and prep everything for the users. And do a final migration with only the last changes (emails) at the weekend.

Export Gmail to PST

Not all mail providers support the ability to create PST files. For example with Gmail, you can’t export it to PST. The only option is to export it to a mbox file and use a converter to create a pst file from it. But that isn’t really convenient.

For Gmail, and other mail providers that don’t support PST export, the easiest option is to add the mailbox first to Outlook. You can open pretty much any mailbox in Outlook. Once opened in Outlook you can simply export it to a PST file (or move the files to your new mailbox)

Open Gmail in Outlook

To add Gmail or another mailbox to Outlook, simply go to Gile and click on Add Account. Enter the email address that you want to import, for Gmail it will come with a Google Login screen and for other mailboxes, you can use POP or IMAP.

Once you connected the mailbox it may take a couple of minutes to download all the mail from the mail server to your Outlook profile.

Creating a PST file in Outlook

Once all the emails are downloaded you can export them to a PST file:

  • Click on File and choose Open & Export
  • Click Import/Export
  • Select Export to a file
  • Choose Outlook Data File (.pst)
  • Select the folder(s) you want to export
  • Enter a file location and click Finish

After the pst file is completed you can import it with one of the methods above.

Wrapping up

So I hope this article helped you with the import of pst files into Office 365. If you are going to import a lot of mailboxes make sure you take a look at the import tool from Kernel.

No matter which method you use, always test it with a small pst file and a test mailbox. This way you can check if everything works as planned and estimate how long your migration is going to take.

19 thoughts on “How to Import PST file into Office 365 – Step-by-Step”

  1. How can I force the job to import a PST file into an existing calendar instead of it creating a new calendar? It doesn’t matter if I specify /Calendar in the TargetRootFolder of the mapping file, it still creates a new calendar and doesn’t use the default.

    • Have you checked that the calendar name is actuall calendar? If the mailbox is in a different language it can be for example /agenda.
      Otherwise I would try out one of tools that I mentioned in the article.

  2. I have a single .pst (Outlook 2010) of 18GB (yes I know!) to migrate – which method would you recommend for this. I’m a sole director so this is the only one I’ll need to transfer. Thank you for summarising the approach :o)

    • 18GB is large, but not a problem for Outlook to handle. I would go for opening it in Outlook and then moving the items to the correct mailbox or using a third-party import tool.

  3. When importing a PST file in Office365 it creates a new calendar (with exactly the same name as the existing one) I want the appointments in the existing calender. I used the / in the targetrootfolder. The pst files are exported from office365.

  4. What is the maximum size pst. file that can be imported into MS365 using the first option; my personal pst file is around 3.5GB with one mail box. In other words at what size is a pst. file considered to be large

  5. Thanks, this was a great jumping off point. V10 of azcopy has new syntax and this walkthrough does not work anymore for the powershell code snips.

  6. Hi,

    I have around 120 mailboxes converted from legacy mail server to PST with each individual mailbox has size no less than 10GB, I do have issue with internet connection so I could not achieved importing the PST file into office 365 using the above article.

    all the converted pst files already imported to each user’s outlook application.

    does the imported pst file on user’s outlook app will sync to office 365?

    thank you

    • If you import it to the inbox then yes. Just make sure that you not only open the PST file (then it will show below the inbox as a separated “inbox”)

  7. Thank you for taking the time to document this process. Your AzCopy command example helped me through it, and I am a command line person. I only needed to convert 15 pst files for a small non-profit.

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