Large migration projects are never simple and it has always been challenging to move email archive data to the cloud. Two years ago we released the PST Capture Tool, which makes this process easier by locating PST files scattered across your organization, collecting them into one place, and then uploading the contents directly into Exchange Online mailboxes. But no matter how you cut it, moving dozens or hundreds of terabytes across your existing Internet connection is going to be a costly and lengthy process. We have consistently been approached by customers and partners asking for help with migrations that could easily take multiple years to complete, because of the time required to move data across the wire.

But no longer! We are thrilled to announce the public preview of the new Office 365 Import Service, which provides two new options for speeding up the process of importing PST files into Exchange Online mailboxes.

  • Option 1: For smaller sets of data, we are enabling network uploads of PST files to Microsoft servers, which we then import into Exchange Online mailboxes.
  • Option 2: For larger datasets, you can copy PST archive files onto hard drives and mail them directly to Microsoft datacenters. Once we receive the drives, we copy the PST files to internal servers and then import the mail into Exchange Online mailboxes.

Both of these options use our internal datacenter network, with significantly faster throughput and lower latency. We’ll publish more precise data on expected speeds towards the end of the preview.

Accessing the import service is easy. When you first log on to the Office 365 admin center there is a new IMPORT tab on the left-hand navigation bar. Once you’re on the IMPORT page, you can create a new drive shipping or network upload job.

Making email archive migration easier with the Office 365 Import Service 1 

You can find all the details about the Office 365 Import Service on this TechNet article.

—Danny Popper, program manager for the Office 365 Information Protection Team

Frequently asked questions

Q. What happens to my data?

A. Behind the scenes, the Office 365 Import Service sits on top of the Azure Import Export service. When you upload your data or physically ship your hard drives, the data is temporarily staged within Microsoft Azure file storage until it is imported into Exchange Online mailboxes. All hard drives are encrypted with BitLocker protection, and the BitLocker key is sent separately from the drives. This protects them in the event they are lost or stolen in transit. We are also working on an additional layer of Azure RMS-based encryption on each file and will turn that on during the course of the preview. If you choose to physically ship hard drives to Microsoft datacenters, they will be returned to you once the data is copied into Azure.

Q. Who is eligible for the preview?

A. Office 365 Commercial, Office 365 Education and multi-tenant Government (Government Pricing) customers are eligible to participate in the preview. At the present time, the preview is not available to Office 365 Dedicated or Office 365 Government Community Cloud (GCC) customers. The preview is also not available for customer with cross-premises archives (where the primary mailbox is on-premises and the archive mailbox is hosted in Exchange Online). We are committed to enabling these scenarios as soon as we can. If these limitations apply to you, please contact and we will notify you when you can participate in the preview.

The preview is currently available for tenants in the North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific regions. We are working to enable it in Brazil, Japan, Australia and China as soon as possible.

Q. How much will the service cost?

A. There is no cost to participate in the preview. We will release pricing details when we reach full release in the coming months.

Q. Where can I get more details?

A. Right here! This TechNet article has detailed, step-by-step instructions for hard drive shipping and network uploads, as well as a list of frequently asked questions.

Q. Will other types of data be added in the future?

A. Yes, over time we will be extending this service to support additional data types across Office 365.


Published: 5/8/2015 7:47