How to migrate email to Office 365 using a connected account
There are a few scenarios when migrating email to Office 365 where it’s worthwhile importing mail via a connected account.
What are connected accounts?
Connected accounts are typically used to enable your Office 365 email to receive mail sent to an email address that’s not hosted within your Office 365 environment. Connected accounts connect to the other email account via POP or IMAP. They differ from using forwarders from the other account, because connected accounts will download all of the existing email stored on the other mail server, as well as any future emails sent to it.
If you’re migrating mail from an account that doesn’t share the same email address as your existing Office 365 mailbox, you can also allow Office 365 to send from that email address via Outlook Web Access.
Even though it’s not their intended purpose, connected accounts can also be used for migrations. Here’s a few scenarios that might warrant it:
- The mail is mostly stored in webmail and supports POP or IMAP accounts
- You’re only moving a small number of mailboxes
- You don’t want to set up a migration batch in Exchange Online
How to set up a connected account
What you’ll need to get started
- If you’re using a connected account to migrate from a POP or IMAP account, you’ll need to retrieve the IMAP or POP server details for the user.
- If you’re importing mail from a Outlook.com/Hotmail/Gmail/Yahoo etc account, you’ll just need the email address and password
Setting up the connected account
- Log into the users’ Office 365 webmail at https://outlook.office365.com
- Click on the Settings cog on the top right
- Under Your app settings, click Mail
- Under Accounts, click Connected accounts
- Click the + icon to add a new connected account
- Enter the email address and password of your connected account and click OK. (Note that this won’t work if you’re using the same email address as Office 365.)
If you’re entering an account that supports autodiscover, like Outlook.com, Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail, you’re pretty much done here. Your connected account will import all mail from the source account into Office 365. It’ll also send a verification email to your connected account’s address. Follow the instructions within the verification email to allow Office 365 to send emails as your connected account’s email address via outlook.office365.com.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t help us if we’re trying to migrate email from an account that shares the same email address as our Office 365 account.
How to migrate email into a connected account from the same email address
If you try entering an email address that matches your Office 365 account, you’ll receive the error message: The address “firstname.lastname@example.org” is the e-mail address of your account or a proxy address that points to your account. You can’t create a connection to your own account.
- To fix this, click Back.
- In the Connect your email account fields, enter the username and password for an email account that doesn’t exist, or will definitely fail, and click OK. I usually modify the domain name, for example email@example.com, would become firstname.lastname@example.org (assuming that email@example.com doesn’t belong to the user as well).
- You’ll receive a notice of an Unsecured connection. With the message: A secured connection couldn’t be established to this account. Not all providers offer secured connections. Click OK to try an unsecured connection. Click Skip to configure your account settings.
- Click Skip.
- Next you’ll choose your connection type between POP and IMAP. This will depend on the details you have available from the source mail server.
- At the New POP/IMAP account connection screen, enter the details for your connected account as follows:
Display Name: Your name
Email Address: Alter the email address so that it doesn’t match your current address, otherwise it will fail again. Again, I usually modify the domain name, for example firstname.lastname@example.org, would become email@example.com (assuming that firstname.lastname@example.org doesn’t belong to the user as well).
User name: enter the actual email address/username for the source server. Eg, email@example.com
Password: Enter the password
Under Server information, enter the incoming server details for the source server.
- You’ll be notified that the connected account creation was successful. On the connected accounts screen, you should now see an entry for the fake email address, with a status of ‘Downloading’. In this image, we’re connecting a few accounts to the same Office 365 mailbox.
So that’s it, once all the mail has downloaded into your Office 365 account, the status will change to OK. If at this point you’ve switched your MX record to deliver mail to Office 365 rather than the old account, you can delete the connected account by clicking the bin icon.
Want to remove all Office 365 connected accounts in bulk?
If you’re setting up connected accounts for a lot of users, it’s easier to remove them in one go via Powershell. Follow our quick guide here on how to do this.