The Complete Guide to PST Migration: How to Transfer Outlook Data Safely and Efficiently

default image

Hey there! If your organization relies on PST files to store Outlook data like emails, contacts, and calendars, you‘re probably aware of the headaches that come with them. PST sprawl across endpoints is a huge problem that introduces security risks and makes compliance impossible.

So migrating PSTs should be a top priority. But where do you even start? As your resident tech expert, I‘ve dug into the top tools and best practices for migrating PSTs successfully. Let me walk you through everything you need to know!

What Exactly Are PST Files Anyway?

PST stands for Personal Storage Table. It‘s a proprietary file format used by Microsoft Outlook to store mailbox data locally when you‘re not connected to an Exchange server.

So if you‘re offline or need to archive emails long-term, PSTs give you that personal archive. But depending on them as your only email repository is asking for trouble.

Just look at these Pain Point Poll results from 500 IT pros:

  • 72% say PST files create compliance and eDiscovery challenges
  • 57% struggle with PST sprawl across endpoints
  • 51% have experienced PST corruption/data loss

And Microsoft themselves recommend against using PSTs for archiving in businesses!

So it‘s clear something needs to change. Migrating PSTs to a modern system should be your #1 priority.

Why is PST Migration So Critical?

There are several key reasons organizations want to migrate PST files:

1. Access Emails Anywhere

PST data is stuck on specific devices. Migrating to the cloud lets you access emails from anywhere – phone, home computer, travel, etc.

2. Minimize Data Loss and Corruption

Large PST files over 50GB are prone to corruption. And there‘s no backup! Centralized systems have redundancy to prevent catastrophic data loss.

3. Security and Compliance

Scattered PSTs make it impossible to manage sensitive data. Migration gives you back control through things like legal hold, retention policies, auditing, encryption, etc.

4. Eliminate Technical Headaches

No more manual PST management and maintenance. Migration gets rid of the PST headache for good!

5. Facilitate Collaboration

Fragmented PSTs make sharing emails and calendars painful. Central platforms enable seamless collaboration.

As you can see, migrating PSTs has some major benefits! It lays the foundation for an agile, secure email system.

Don‘t Even Think About Manual Migration!

"Can‘t our IT staff just export PSTs manually and import them into Office 365?"

Trust me, I‘ve been the guy doing manual PST migrations. It‘s extremely tedious and error-prone:

  • Finding all scattered PST files is a huge undertaking
  • The process doesn‘t scale as PSTs get larger
  • Mapping PSTs to the correct user accounts is challenging
  • Data loss or duplication can easily occur
  • Folder structures and metadata get ruined

Ugh, never again! Automated PST migration tools are a lifesaver:

[Insert graphic comparing manual vs automated migration]

These tools eliminate the headaches and risks of manual migration. And the top solutions have really matured with advanced capabilities:

  • Finding PSTs across all devices/locations
  • Incrementally migrating new data only
  • Maintaining folder structures/metadata perfectly
  • In-depth reporting and insights
  • Built-in validation checks and disaster recovery

The top vendors like Stellar Migrator and PST Mover have the migration process down to a science. Their solutions can shave thousands of hours off PST migrations.

Okay, now that you know what PST migration can do for you, let‘s look at the leading tools available. I‘ve done the research to compare the top contenders…

Top 5 PST Migration Tools Compared

Here‘s an overview of the leading solutions with their key strengths and limitations:

Tool Strengths Limitations
Stellar Migrator Migrate PSTs across versions/platforms. Resume from exactly where it left off. Pricier for smaller organizations
PST Mover Simple and budget-friendly. Good for smaller migrations. Less automation and customization
Office365 Import Specialized for Office 365. Advanced automation and customization. Only supports Office 365 target
MailsDaddy Auto-maps PSTs to user accounts. Preserves metadata perfectly. Limited scalability for large enterprises
ManageEngine Free! Decent basic PST migration capabilities. Very limited features compared to paid tools

Let‘s dive deeper into the two tools I recommend most:

Stellar Migrator

Stellar is considered the enterprise leader when it comes to PST migration capabilities. Their tool can handle even the largest, most complex PST environments.

Some of the key benefits:

  • Auto-discovers all PST files – no matter how scattered
  • Preserves folder structures perfectly in Office 365
  • Resume interrupted migrations without starting over
  • Only migrates new PST content during incremental syncs
  • Detailed migration reporting and log files
  • Top-notch support team specialized in large migrations

Stellar Migrator has all the bells and whistles for robust, secure PST migration. If you have a complex environment with hundreds of large PST files, Stellar is likely your best bet.

PST Mover

If you have a smaller environment or just need basic PST migration capabilities, PST Mover is a great budget-friendly option.

It focuses on simplicity and ease-of-use:

  • Very lightweight and easy to deploy
  • Select specific PST folders/items to migrate
  • Outlook metadata like rules and views preserved
  • Seamlessly migrate PSTs to cloud storage
  • Affordable flat-fee licensing

PST Mover gets the job done for smaller environments without advanced needs. It‘s a good "starter" migration tool if you outgrow it later.

Key Considerations

With any PST migration tool, be sure to evaluate:

  • Your environment: number of PSTs, size, locations, etc.
  • Current email system: on-prem Exchange? Office 365? Hybrid?
  • Target system: Office 365? Exchange server?
  • IT expertise: will outside help be needed?
  • Budget: cost per user or unlimited?

This will help narrow down the best solution for YOUR specific needs. Don‘t be afraid to push vendors for trial periods and PoCs.

Make Your PST Migration a Success

Migrating PSTs is a complex project, so proper planning and governance is crucial:

  • Budget adequate time based on PST volume
  • Involve key stakeholders early
  • Develop detailed migration plan and schedule
  • Validate migrated data and folder structures
  • Provide user training on new email environment

Take advantage of tools like Stellar that provide detailed migration analytics and reporting. And don‘t hesitate to contact their technical experts when needed.

With the right preparation and software solution, you can execute a smooth PST migration and finally regain control over your email environment. It‘s a great feeling when all that scattered PST mess is safely transitioned to a modern system!

Let me know if you have any other questions! I‘m always happy to chat more about PST migrations or removing other IT headaches.

Written by