Top 10 things to improve Exchange migration process

Microsoft do offer native tools to help users with their Exchange migration but they are not always user-friendly. Often they are lengthy, time consuming and prone to error. Here are the 10 things we think would be most helpful to users when migrating using Microsoft’s own processes.

Exchange Migration Tips

1. Provide means to estimate the total migration time accurately

Knowing how much time a migration will take is important when planning how to deal with the potential downtime. Setting up an infrastructure and then running a test migration to find out how long it will take can be time consuming and complex. A simpler means of estimating the exact time it will take would make the whole process much easier.

2. Standardized migration processes for different versions

Admins using different versions of Exchange have different experiences with Exchange migration. Older versions of Exchange (Exchange 2003 or before) may experience more issues when migrating. For example, someone who wants to migrate from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2013 will have to do a double hop migration from Exchange 2003 to 2007/10 and then to the latest 2013 /16. The same is the case with Exchange 2003 to Office 365 migration.

3. Similar processes for all types of migrations

Exchange migration may vary significantly depending on the source and the target environments. Various types include same domain (single Exchange migration), same domain (multiple Exchange migration), different domain, Office 365 and hosted Exchange Server migrations. Making the migration process as similar as possible for each type will help speed up and simplify it.

4. Eliminate the requirement of additional infrastructure

Additional infrastructure, such as a migration server, needs to be setup in order to perform native migrations. Users also have to run some additional tools for pre-migration analysis and configuration. Virtual infrastructure can be setup manually but a lot of the time users can experience issues with this approach.  Migrations that don’t require additional infrastructure would be much easier and may reduce the amount of issues that users come across.

5. Ensure minimum impact to the existing users

Occasionally, some Exchange versions mailboxes are unavailable to users throughout migration process. This can be particularly irritating when the migration can last for days. Being able to schedule the migrations to run during non-office hours would help to minimize the disruption to end users.

6. Simplify the entire migration process

During the migration, glitches can occur if your Exchange environment is not properly configured. There can be an overwhelming amount of variables to consider, and anything you miss may cause the migration to fail. The overall migration process just need to be simplified.

7. Speed up the migration process

Migration speed hinges on a number of factors, including the server resources. If your server resources aren’t up to the task then the migration can take a long time regardless of your network capacity.  One solution to speed up the migration would be if you could use the resources of other network computers in addition to the server resources.

8. Offer a way of hands off migration

In large organizations with terabytes of data, migrations may run for days and admins may be spending an excessive amount of time keeping watch to make sure everything runs smoothly. If the migration stops admins won’t know about it until they get round to checking it. Alerting should be introduced to notify admins immediately if the migration pauses.

9. Show the migration status in user friendly GUI

While the migration is in progress, admins may want to know what has been migrated, what hasn’t, and how much time remains. It would be useful if Microsoft provided a GUI based reporting console to give this information in an easily consumable format.

10. Provide an easy means to roll-back the migration

Once the mailboxes and public folders have been migrated, you may find that you want to roll back the entire migration and put things back to their original state. At the moment Microsoft does not provide an easy means to do this.


Achieving a successful migration is possible using native processes but it is by no means perfect. There are many factors to consider and potential issues to overcome when relying on native migration alone. We believe that, until Microsoft addresses the key issues we have outlined in this article, the most effective means of carrying out migrations is with the use of third-party Exchange Migration solutions . This solution provides all the things that we think users want that aren’t currently available using native processes.