Importing & Exporting PST in Microsoft 365 Exchange Online

4 mn read

Navigating the digital realm of Microsoft Office 365 Exchange Online, both importing and exporting Personal Storage Table (.PST) files stand as essential processes for data management and organizational fluidity. With a plethora of reasons behind such needs—from migrating to backing up crucial data or adhering to compliance demands—understanding each step, tool, and protocol for effective PST management is indispensable. In this exhaustive exploration, we’ll dissect the myriad of methods, ensuring even the most intricate of details don’t go unnoticed in your Office 365 Import Export journey.

The Fundamentals of PST Files in Office 365

PST files stand for Personal Storage Table files, which are data files used by Microsoft Outlook to store a user’s email messages, contacts, calendar events, and other data items. Use cases for PST files include:

  1. Email Archiving: Users can archive old emails that they no longer need immediate access to but want to retain for historical reasons.
  2. Data Transfer: PST files facilitate the transfer of information between different instances of Outlook, which can be useful when migrating to a new computer or sharing emails with another user.
  3. Backup: PSTs are often used to create backups of mailbox data, providing a safeguard against accidental deletions or server issues.

Advantages and Risks of PST Usage Advantages of using PST files:

  • Local Accessibility: PSTs store data locally, providing users access to their emails and other items without an internet connection.
  • Storage Management: They help manage mailbox size limits by allowing users to move emails from the server to local files.
  • Control and Autonomy: End users have direct control over PSTs, without the need to involve IT for access to archived emails.

Risks associated with PST usage:

  • Data Corruption: PST files are prone to corruption, especially as they grow in size or age.
  • Data Security: PST files can be stored and shared insecurely, leading to potential data breaches.
  • Data Loss Risk: If the device holding the PST file fails or files are not backed up correctly, critical emails and data might be lost.

Overview of Office 365’s Compliance With PST Management Office 365 (now rebranded as Microsoft 365) provides features that reduce the need for PST files, thereby mitigating the risks associated with them. For compliance and PST management, Office 365 offers:

  • Online Archiving: An archive mailbox feature that provides users with additional mailbox storage space.
  • Litigation Hold and eDiscovery: These allow organizations to preserve email data for legal cases and compliance audits.
  • Retention Policies: Office 365’s retention policies help organizations keep data that needs to be retained for regulatory or business reasons and delete what isn’t necessary.

Office 365’s native tools and policies provide better alternatives to managing data compared to traditional PST file usage, which Microsoft discourages due to the risks and challenges mentioned. These tools ensure that businesses can manage, preserve, secure, and discover data according to their compliance needs.

Methods to Perform Import/Export in Office 365 Mailbox

Using the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center: The Security & Compliance Center in Office 365 offers a built-in tool for importing and exporting PST files. By using this method, you can control the import and export process from a centralized location. It involves the following steps: a. Prepare the PST files: Ensure that the PST files are correctly formatted and follow the naming conventions. b. Create an Import Job: In the Security & Compliance Center, create a new import job, specify the PST file location, and configure advanced settings such as de-duplication and mailbox mapping. c. Monitor the Import Job: Track the progress of the import job and review the reports to ensure that the data is successfully imported into the mailboxes.

Using Azure AzCopy Tool: Azure AzCopy is a command-line utility that can be used to transfer data to and from Azure storage. This method involves uploading PST files to Azure storage and then importing them into Office 365 using the Security & Compliance Center. The steps include: a. Upload PST files to Azure: Use AzCopy to upload PST files to Azure storage by creating a storage account and generating a Shared Access Signature (SAS) token for authentication. b. Create a Mapping File: Generate a mapping file that associates each PST file with the corresponding Office 365 mailbox. c. Start the Import Job: Initiate the import process in the Security & Compliance Center, referencing the PST files stored in Azure and the mapping file.

It’s important to note that the above methods require appropriate permissions and licenses within the Office 365 environment. Additionally, thorough planning and testing are essential before executing a large-scale import or export operation to ensure data integrity and minimize disruptions to users.

Third-Party Migration Tools: There are several third-party migration tools available that facilitate the import and export of PST files in Office 365. These tools often offer advanced features such as automatic mapping of source and destination mailboxes, incremental migrations, and detailed reporting. Users can choose from a variety of vendors based on their specific requirements and budget.

Shoviv Office 365 Backup and Restore

Shoviv Office 365 Backup and Restore stands as a hallmark of data security and user convenience in the realm of cloud services. Designed with precision, this tool offers a formidable shield against data loss by enabling users to effortlessly back up their Office 365 mailboxes to PST formats, ensuring data integrity and accessibility. Its restore feature is equally impressive, providing a seamless pathway to reintroduce data back into Office 365 without the slightest compromise to its fidelity.

Notable features include incremental backup, ensuring subsequent backups are swift and storage-efficient by only capturing newly arrived data. With a user-friendly interface, administrators can schedule backups for automated data protection, manage sizeable amounts of data with ease, and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with advanced filter options for selective data backup. Shoviv Office 365 Backup tool, thus, embodies a robust yet elegant solution for comprehensive data management.


Mastering the import and export of PST files is a continuous journey marked by meticulous preparation, unwavering attention to detailed execution, and a proactive stance on post-operation reviews. Whether you’re an IT professional bearing the weight of organizational email management or a small business owner overseeing your data migration, the tools and guidelines detailed in this article serve to empower you.

This outline sets the stage for an exhaustive article on Importing and Exporting PST files in Microsoft Office 365, providing an in-depth look at the different methods businesses and IT professionals can use to manage email data. Each section is intended to dive deeply into its respective topic, providing clear, step-by-step instructions and helpful tips to the readers.

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