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How to Migrate Exchange 2016 to Office 365; Step-by-Step Explanation

Published By Nilesh Kumar
Debasish Pramanik
Approved By Debasish Pramanik
Published On January 17th, 2024
Reading Time 9 Minutes Reading

Summary: Learn the procedure to migrate Exchange 2016 to Office 365 step-by-step with the methods given here. We are going to explain the professional solution and the manual solutions in detail. Find out why the users face challanges and problem with the manual methods.

There is no denying that cloud platforms have been booming since we entered the digital era. Hence, many organizations are willing to switch from traditional on-premise Exchange servers to cloud interfaces.

Why not?

If you are running an Exchange server then you might be familiar with the fact that managing it, is quite a complex task. Moreover, like the previous Exchange servers, it will also come to its end in the coming 2-3 years. Furthermore, if we talk about Exchange Server 2016, it is also about to end of life on Oct 14, 2025. Therefore, Exchange 2016 to Office 365 migration is what users prefer.

Also, not to mention, other extra costs include Exchange Server maintenance.

Further, to manage the server activities, you need a dedicated staff who must hold the expertise in handling the Exchange server.

Nowadays, many organizations prefer to use Office 365 instead of the on-premise server. However, the migration process is the biggest challenge you may encounter.

Since Office 365 is a completely new environment, and if you are not sure how to migrate, keep on reading this article. Here you will find the most convenient approach for migration.

Different Ways to Migrate from Exchange Server 2016 to Office 365 Step-by-Step

Well, you can fulfill the goal using both manual and automated methods. However, choosing a migration methodology is not easy, as organizations have different workflows and demands. Furthermore, as the data itself is split into different types, it adds to the complexity. 

During method selection, you must have answers to all these questions:

  • What does my organization expect from the operation?
  • What are all the data items that need to be shifted?
  • How much are we willing to spend? What is the ROI?
  • Is my team’s experience in line with the migration method of choice?
  • How much and what data is to be moved?
  • Does the hardware support the migration method we have selected?
  • When can we start, and how much time will it take?
  • Is the method secure, and what do other industry experts recommend?

Usually, the migration process depends on the organization and its business needs. What volume of data do they want to migrate and its type, etc? And most of the experts suggest using the automated method for hassle-free migration. However, to discuss the manual method, Microsoft provides distinct ways for migration. First, let’s have a look at the same, and later we will move to the alternative method.

Manual Methods Offered by Microsoft for Exchange 2016 to Office 365

Depending on the number of mailboxes, features, and other factors, migration can be done through Cutover, Staged, Hybrid, or IMAP migration. Let’s briefly understand them one by one.

1. Cutover Migration

Here, you can move all the mailboxes from the old on-premise Exchange service to a cloud-based service like Office 365. It is available for Exchange Server 2003 and later versions.

However, you can migrate up to 2000 mailboxes at once using this migration.

2. Staged Migration

Oftentimes referred to as ‘Phased Migration’. You can migrate Exchange 2016 to Office 365 step-by-step in batches. It supports only Exchange servers 2003 and 2007 for migration

Hence, you cannot use this method to migrate data from Exchange 2016.

3. Hybrid Migration

Office 365 Migration has the option to create a coexistence between the Exchange Server and Microsoft 365 service. This setup is called a hybrid configuration. Most of the time it is used as an intermediatory step before fully transitioning to the cloud. It is preferable for mid-scale organizations like schools, NGO which have more than 150 but less than 2000 mailboxes and have relatively new servers (versions 2013 or above).

This migration applies to all hybrid environments. You can migrate data for Exchange Server version 2010 or above.

For that, you have to install Azure AD Connect.

4. IMAP Migration

Internet Message Access Protocol migration to move mailboxes from Exchange. However, you can only transfer emails. If you wish to migrate Contacts, Calendars along with emails during Exchange 2016 to Office 365 migration, it is not possible with this process. Apart from third-party IMAP servers this the the only available method for moving data from Exchange server 2000 or earlier. Moreover, it is one of the Office 365 migration methods that is entirely manual.

You know manual methods have their pros and cons. Let’s now discuss the limitations of the manual method.

Challenges You Can Face While Using the Manual Methods

Just imagine, you have a large volume of mailboxes you want to migrate, about 5000 in number. Then Cutover Migration will fail you there.

You may overcome the situation using Staged migration. But, as you already know this migration is limited to only 2003 and 2007 Exchange Servers.

To migrate Exchange 2016 to Office 365 step-by-step is not possible & depending on the same will be a waste of time.

Now, if you talk about hybrid migration, it is very complex and hard to configure. You will have to create a hybrid environment in both source & destination so that the data can be accessed in either.

And the concern in IMAP migration is that it can migrate 500,000 items. And that too only emails.

Hence, the only solution is to opt for the automated method. No wonder experts suggest this method!

Quick Method to Migrate Exchange 2016 to Office 365 Step-by-Step

If strict migration criteria are preventing you from choosing the desired migration method, then you can go for the automated Exchange to Office 365 migration software. With this tool, you can migrate data from any of its on-premise locations to the cloud via the tool. With industry-leading algorithms underneath and an easy-to-navigate UI, the tool is fully equipped to handle any migration scenario.

Whether you are moving 10 mailboxes or 10,000, the tool adapts and excels to give the best results. Moreover, the tool removes all confusion regarding workload selection, prioritizing users, or mapping sources with destinations by providing in-house facilities for the same.

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With the help of the tool, you can perform batch migration as well as concurrent migration. Also, you can track the real-time progress of the migration process.

The convenient and user-friendly interface of the software will allow you to migrate data files to Office 365 in the right way.

There are various functions that the tool provides to its users for a beneficial & successful migration.

First, the steps.

Migrate Exchange 2016 to Office 365 By Following the Software Steps

Step 1. Download the software and launch it. Now, go to the ‘Set up’ section and choose the Source as Exchange and Destination as Office 365.

enter source and destination users

Step 2. On the same screen, under the ‘Workload Selection’, select the categories you want to migrate. Use the Date-filter feature to migrate the data selectively from a period.


Step 3. Now go to the ‘Source’ tab and fill in the required details. Click on the Validate button to assign permissions and hit the Next button.

Source screen

Step 4. Now, go to the ‘Destination’ window to migrate Exchange 2016 to Office 365 step-by-step. Fill in the Office 365 Admin ID and Application ID. Then, click on the Validate button & press Next.

Office 365 as destination

Step 5. Next, in the ‘Users’ tab, you need to specify the users to be migrated. For that, you can use any of these options: Fetch Users or Import Users.


Step 6. Once you map the Source and Destination users, hit ‘Validate’. After all the accounts are verified, click on Start Migration.

Validation Completed

Wait for the procedure to complete. It will take a few minutes. Once the Exchange 2016 to Office 365 migration is completed, you can access your data in the Office 365 account.

There are three options that you can use to execute the procedure again:

  • Retry Failed Items – You can migrate the skipped or failed data files using this feature.
  • Re-Run Full Migration – It is possible to run the procedure again for all the data.
  • Delta-Migration – This feature allows migrating only the new data files after the first procedure. It will eliminate any duplicates created.

Also Read: How to Migrate Microsoft Office 365 to Google Workspace?

To Conclude

After reading the article, you must have gained an idea of how to migrate Exchange 2016 to Office 365 step-by-step. Manual methods are useful but only for technical professionals who have all the expertise required.

For those who are not technically inclined, the simple technique for the same procedure is explained in this article. Hence, you can follow the experts’ advice and start your migration today.


Q1. During the last migration, we encountered an issue where we got some last-minute emails. As the manual methods lacked any straightforward way to bring only those emails, we had to restart the entire migration again. We don’t want to repeat the same thing this time. Do any of the methods work in this particular scenario?

Unlike manual methods, the tool has an inbuilt feature called delta migration. This fits perfectly for your situation, as it smartly identifies what data has been migrated and what’s new at the source. It then picks up and delivers the remaining data to Office 365   

Q2. Our migration scenario is unique in the sense that we only have to bring in emails from a particular month of the last year. Can any of the methods offer such precise data transfer?

Ans. Of course, we understand that every business migration condition is different, so we recommend that you go for the software. The reason is simple it has an inbuilt date filtering capability. Using it, you can bring only the emails that you require and not anything else.

Q3. Migration is something that is brand new for our startup; being recent college graduates, we have little to no technical skills to handle such a complex procedure. Although our data set is small, we still can’t risk going through a complex migration procedure. What do you recommend?”

Considering your situation, the tool is the best method out of all, as it not only reduces the technical expertise that is required but also provides complete data security.



By Nilesh Kumar

As a Chief Technical Writer, I know the technical issues faced by home and professional users. So, I decided to share all my knowledge via this blog. I love to help you with challenges while dealing with technical jargon.