How to Migrate Exchange Server 2013 to Office 365 – Most Sophisticated Way

Migrate Exchange 2013 to Office 365 with Step-By-Step Solution
Admin ~ Modified: April 18th, 2024 ~ Microsoft Exchange Server ~ 11 Minutes Reading

If your organization is using Exchange 2013 and decided to switch to Office 365, then this technical guide will give you multiple solutions to migrate Exchange 2013 to Office 365. Go through the steps mentioned here and perform a safe data transition from the on-premise server to the cloud.

Exchange Server 2013, launched in Jan 2013, has brought a new set of technologies, features, and services. However, on April 2023, Exchange 2013 will reach its end of extended support. That means no more security updates, bug fixes, or technical support will be provided from Microsoft’s end. Which is the main reason to switch to cloud platforms. Let’s discuss the reasons in detail. 

What could be the Reasons to Migrate Exchange 2013 to Office 365?

Several reasons entice users and organizations to switch from Exchange Server 2013 to Microsoft 365. Here are some of the prominent reasons:

  • The first and most prominent reason is the end of support for Exchange Server 2013. Microsoft announced the end of support on April 11, 2023. This implies – the users would not receive any bug fixes or security patches from Microsoft. Which can be a security threat to your server, and you can lose your crucial data in the event of cyber attacks.
  • Microsoft 365 offers a pay-as-you-go model, aka (PAYG), which means you only pay for what you consume. This eventually reduces the upfront hardware and software costs associated when you run your own Exchange 2013 server.
    Additionally, unlike the Exchange Server 2013, it does not require any IT staff to manage the Microsoft 365 suite. This reduces the overall cost and improves ROIs.
  • Unlike Exchange Server 2013, Microsoft 365 offers robust security features to its users, this includes, MFA, Azure Active Directory, Ransomware protection, etc.
  • With Microsoft 365 users have 24×7 access to their cloud data such as – email, calendars, and contacts, irrespective of their location. They just need an active internet connection and they can access their data from anywhere on any device.
  • Microsoft 365 constantly updates with new features and functionality. By migrating, you’ll gain access to these improvements without requiring you to upgrade your Exchange hardware or software.

So, if you haven’t already thought of migrating from the Exchange 2013 server to a more user-friendly platform like Office 365 then now is the time. And, if you are not sure of how to do it, then follow this technical guide till the end.

How Can You Migrate Exchange Server 2013 to Office 365?

Even though both the platforms are from the same developer(Microsoft), migrating from an on-premise mailing system to the cloud can be a difficult task. So, careful planning is required to achieve a successful migration.

The important step of the planning involves choosing the right method for the migration. There are five different methods available to carry out the migration. 

  1. Cutover Migration
  2. Staged Migration
  3. Hybrid Migration 
  4. IMAP Migration
  5. Professional Tool for Migration

Out of the above methods, the first four of them are in-house methods(offered by Microsft) and the last method is an automated solution that uses a professional software to perform the task efficinetly. 

Let’s discuss the methods in detail.

  1. Cutover Migration

A cutover migration is a suitable option to migrate all mailboxes at once. This migration method supports Exchange 2003 and later versions. 

Before You Begin:

You should know that it can migrate a maximum of 2000 mailboxes in one go. However, Microsoft recommends migrating 150 mailboxes at a time for a better experience.

There are certain things you need to know/consider while carrying out the migration process.

  • Here, you will be able to move all on-premise mailboxes to Office 365.
  • Make sure you have an on-premises admin account that has access to users’ mailboxes.
  • Microsoft Office 365 needs to connect to your Exchange 2013 servers by using Outlook Anywhere over TCP port 443.
  • You need to ensure that the Exchange 2013 accepted domains that you want to use in Microsoft 365 need to be added as verified domains.
  • You’ll need a Microsoft 365 license for the migration that includes Exchange Online for each user mailbox you want to migrate.

You can refer to the Office 365 Cutover Migration method for the detailed migration process.

  1. Staged Migration

Staged migration can be used if you have more than 2000 mailboxes to migrate. And, this migration method supports the transfer of contents of user mailboxes from a source email system to Office 365 over time.

However, here we’ll not get into the details of the process cause this method supports Exchange Server 2003 and Exchange Server 2007. But if you want in detail then you can refer to the Office 365 Staged Migration step-by-step method for the detailed migration process.

  1. Hybrid Migration

If you want to maintain both on-premise and online mailboxes for your migration then you can opt for hybrid migration. Because it allows users to stay in the hybrid environment for months. This migration method supports Exchange Server 2010 or later versions.

Hybrid migration lets you;

  • Check Office  365 users’ free/busy calendar information for users in on-premise, and vice versa.
  • View a collective global address list that contains recipients in both on-premises and Office 365.
  • Look for full Outlook recipient properties for all users, whether they’re on-premises or in Microsoft 365, it doesn’t matter.
  • Protect email communication shared between on-premises Exchange servers and Office 365 through TLS and certificates.
  • Consider messages shared between on-premises Exchange servers and Office 365 as internal.

To know about the detailed migration process, you can check out Office 365 Hybrid Migration.

However, there are certain things you need to know about hybrid migration.

  • This migration method is not suitable for all organizations. The execution process of the migration is quite complex and organizations with less than a few hundred mailboxes don’t see any benefit in using this method.
  • It’s required to set up directory synchronization using Azure Active Directory (Azure AD). Further, establish connections between on-premises Active Directory servers and Microsoft 365.
  • You will need Office 365 licenses for each user’s mailbox that you want to migrate.
  • Also, you need Azure AD Connect with password synchronization and/or Active Directory Federation Services. By this, users can sign in to their Office 365 mailbox with the same username and password that were used previously.
  1. IMAP Migration

IMAP migration method is used for migrating particular mailbox emails from MS Exchange 2013 to Office 365. It will migrate the emails in users’ inbox folders & other mail folders only. 

Further, you’ll have to create a mailbox for each user before migrating their emails, since it doesn’t create mailboxes in Microsoft 365 or Office 365.

Before you begin:

You should know that, with IMAP migration, you can migrate only 500,000 items from a user mailbox. Further, the maximum message size that you can migrate is 35 MB. 

Let’s briefly discuss the IMAP migration process.

  • Find the full name of your current email server cause Office 365 needs the name of the source email server to migrate mailboxes.
  • Make a list of mailboxes that you want to migrate.
  • Connect Microsoft 365 or Office 365 to your email system for migrating email successfully. 
  • Create a migration batch to migrate your mailboxes.
  • Then, directly route your emails to Office 365.

However, IMAP migration and other manual migration methods have certain limitations that you can’t ignore.

Limitations Of Manual Methods in Migrating Exchange 2013 to Office 365

In the cutover migration method, there is a restriction on the number of mailboxes that you can migrate. That is if you have 2000 mailboxes to migrate then you can opt for this method.

Secondly, staged migration is not fit for all types of Exchange servers. And, so far as the hybrid migration is concerned, it’s very complex & requires technical expertise to execute the process.

Last but not least, using IMAP migration, you can not migrate other mailbox items such as contacts, calendars, etc.

And, that’s when the automated method comes in handy to avoid such limitations. Let’s have a look at the same in detail.

  1. Automatically Migrate Exchange Server 2013 to Office 365 Using Professional Tool

As the heading suggests, using the Migrator Wizard Exchange Migration software, you can easily migrate any Exchange server to the cloud. Plus, the user-friendly interface makes the whole process easier for both technical and non-technical users. More importantly, this method doesn’t involve any complex steps or technicalities. Hence, there’s no fear of accidental data loss. Furthermore, the software steps are really easy to follow.

Must Read: Office 365 Tenant to Tenant Migration Simplified with Comprehensive Solution

Easy Steps to Migrate Exchange On-Premise 2013 to Microsoft 365

Step 1. Download, Install the software on your computer, and launch it.

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Step 2. Then, navigate to the ‘Setup’ section and select the Source and the Destination as Exchange and Office 365 respectively.


Step 3. Next, under the ‘Workload Selection’, tick the categories such as Email, Contact, and Calendar checkboxes for the migration.

Step 4. Next, you can click on the Date Filter checkbox to apply advanced settings. Here, you can choose the From & To dates, and perform selective data migration. Then, click the ‘Next’ button.


Step 5. After that, go to the ‘Source’ tab, and fill in the necessary details such as Exchange Server Version(2013), Admin email, Admin Password, Active Directory IP, and Exchange Server IP.


Step 6. Then, click on ‘validate’ and verify the necessary source permission.

Step 7. Once you see all the permissions turn green, press the ‘Next’ button.

Step 8. Then, go to the ‘Destination’ Tab and provide the Office 365 Admin email and Application ID. Next, click on the ‘Validate’ button to verify the necessary permissions. Once everything is done, click on ‘Next’


Step 9. After that, you need to specify the source users from the Users tab. For that, you can choose any one option from Fetch Users, Import Users, or Download Template.


Step 10. Next, click on the ‘validate’ button again & verify the required permissions for the Source and Destination.

Step 11. At last, click on Start Migration for migrating the data from Exchange 2013 to Office 365.


State-of-the-art Features of The Tool That Helps in Exchange 2013 to Office 365 Migration

  • It supports the latest Exchange servers for migrating data to Office 365.
  • No limitations on the account size and further, you can migrate multiple mailboxes at once.
  • The tool offers multiple options to fetch source users.
  • As per your requirement, you can pause and resume the migration process. 
  • For whatever reason, if you notice any file is skipped during the initial run then the tool offers a re-run migration option.
  • Also, it gives the facility to users to perform account-based priority migration.

Also Read: How to Migrate Teams From One Tenant to Another? Complete Tutorial

Final Verdict

The fixed life cycle of the Exchange server makes it difficult to keep up with the latest security updates and other features. And, if your organization is using Exchange Server 2013 then soon Microsoft will end its support. That’s why it’s suggested to migrate Exchange Server 2013 to Office 365, a reliable platform. For migrating Exchange Mailbox to Office 365, this article explained various methods(both manual & automated). Since manual methods have limitations it’s advised to opt for the automated method to experience a seamless migration.


Q1. What migration methods are available for migrating Exchange Server 2013 to Office 365? 

There are a few ways that you can choose such as:

  1. Cutover Migration: Suitable for small organizations with fewer mailboxes.
  2. Hybrid Deployment: Ideal for larger organizations needing a phased migration with coexistence.
  3. Professional Migration Tool –  Offer more flexibility and additional features for complex migration workloads.

Since the manual methods have several limitations associated with them, hence the automated solution is the one-stop solution, which overcomes all the limitations of the manual method. 

Below are the 5 steps that can migrate Exchange 2013 to Office 365 using the software solution:

  • Step 1. Download, install, and launch software.
  • Step 2. Opt Exchange and Office 365 as platforms.
  • Step 3. Enable mailbox workload and set date filter.
  • Step 4. Log in with the required credentials and validate.
  • Step 5. Choose desired user accounts and click on start.

Q2. How do I prepare for Exchange Server 2013 to Office 365 migration?

Preparation involves several factors and it can not be pre-determined, moreover, it can vary depending on the needs and requirements of organizations. However, the standard preparation can be as follows:

  • Update the Exchange Server to the latest service pack and cumulative update.
  • Configure connectors between Exchange 2013 Server and Office 365.
  • Verify mailbox permissions and ensure no lingering issues.
  • Choose the right approach to migrate Exchange 2013 to Office 365. 
  • Wrap up with proper post-migration checklists.

Q3. What steps are involved in a cutover migration from Exchange Server 2013 to Office 365? 

The entire Cutover migration process can be lengthy to discuss, however, the key steps are discussed below:

  • Step 1. Verify domain ownership in Office 365.
  • Step 2.  Create mailboxes for users in Office 365.
  • Step 3. Route emails to Office 365 by updating DNS records.
  • Step 4.  Perform a final synchronization before cutting over.