Some Tips : Migrating Microsoft Exchange Email to Hosted Exchange

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More and more COO’s, CIO’s and IT Managers are going all-in for affordable hosted (cloud) IT services that fall right in with new business operating models. What’s an easier sell – “Can you write me a check for X-$1,000s for new Exchange server(s)?” or “We can upgrade and migrate to Hosted Exchange without ever buying a new server, and save X-$1,000s!”

Microsoft Exchange is so deeply rooted in just about every business worldwide. Most Outlook users do not even want to hear about something cool and different. Going with a new platform in many cases is out of the question, this is understandable. Migrating your in-house Exchange server to a cloud provider’s Hosted Exchange Service can be a lot easier than you can imagine. I’ve done it and am thrilled how freakin easy it really can be. Migration chores and time can be cut by 75% or more compared to in-house upgrades.

Like many of my peers I’ve been working with Microsoft Exchange before dirt was invented. Remember Microsoft Mail? Exchange can be just as troublesome today as its predecessor. Before making the leap over to Hosted Microsoft Exchange here are 4 Helpful Tips you’ll find useful to help you get started with your Exchange Server migration plans.

Tip #1 – Exchange Database Maintenance, Your Best Friend

A Microsoft Exchange Mailstore(s) is a database. With little or no routine maintenance, mailboxes and the entire store can fall victim to fragmentation and corruption. I strongly suggest you activate weekly if not daily automated maintenance on your Exchange mailstore database. Maintenance runs in the background and sends a results report to the default system administrator email account when it finishes.

Tip #2 – CC Exchange Email Now, Feel Better Later

Another task to smooth your ascent to the clouds is to CC all existing email to your new hosted accounts. This easy step will reveal any DNS and mail delivery problems, such as MX Record errors, without interrupting mail flow. Another cool thing about this step is all your employees can practice logging in to their new hosted account and test drive the service before going live.

Tip #3 – Migrate Exchange To The Cloud with Less Fat

Exchange mailbox housekeeping is just as bad as file share housekeeping. Raise your hand if you have employees that must keep every draft, sent, received, and deleted email. Okay, trash is trash and good data is hard to sort out. Exchange administrators and your IT department most likely are not privy to every employee’s email. I recommend setting a company-wide initiative to require employees delete unwanted and irrelevant email. Did I hear someone say compliance? Archiving aged email can take a load off mailboxes and the Exchange mailstore(s). The point here is reducing the mailbox size as much as possible to help the speed of the migration. Go in to Exchange Manager and take baseline numbers that show pre-cleanup file sizes and object counts then periodic views as mailbox housekeeping progresses.

Tip #4 – Free Utility Will Prevent Migration Headaches

A wholesale move to Hosted Exchange is a full, off-site Exchange migration. If your mailboxes have corruption issues, this is not uncommon; you must fix the problems before moving out of the house. Bad data does not fix itself. In some cases you will export Exchange mailboxes to individual PST’s. At this stage run a free and helpful tool called SCANPST.EXE on the PST files. This handy utility is on the local Windows PC if it has Outlook installed. Allow it to analyze the exported PST. Your migration will go smoother, I promise!

These are just 4 effective tips you can include with your Hosted Exchange migration plans. Not all migrations to hosted Exchange are the same, a lot of commonality though. The most important thing to remember is Exchange mailstores and mailboxes are storage only databases. They are difficult to clean up and repair when things go wrong. The leaner and cleaner your data is before the big push the faster the process will go. Oh yeah, fewer antacids are needed. Good luck!