How to Migrate Exchange 2003 Mailboxes to Exchange 2013 Directly

With the changes that Microsoft Exchange has seen in architecture and functioning over the past few years, a majority of the server’s users have migrated their on-premise email setups from legacy versions to more recent ones. However, there are still quite a few organizations that are using old versions of the server like Exchange 2003. A major concern preventing them from migrating are the costs and risks involved. Moreover, Microsoft doesn’t support direct migration from a legacy Exchange version to a recent one.

Even so, many of the world’s leading organizations have already made the switch as they have found alternative ways to achieve the task. In this post, we’ll be highlighting a few of the most effective techniques to migrate Exchange 2003 to 2013 directly.

Key Tasks to Perform Exchange 2003 to 2013 Migration

Before proceeding to the techniques that can be used for the migration, let us briefly cast a glance over the major tasks involved in the process:

• Understand the existing Exchange 2003 environment and its relevant settings
• Prepare the migration plan for the new environment
• Remove everything that won’t be needed or will need to be created afresh in the new environment
• Get the Exchange 2010 and Exchange 2013 servers ready for installation and configuration
• Install Exchange 2010 multi-role server and configure it with basic settings
• Carry out sample migrations to test server disk performance
• Migrate a small batch of mailboxes to Exchange 2010 and when that finishes accurately, migrate remaining mailboxes. We recommend using Stellar Converter for ED to perform this migration
• Decommission Exchange 2003
• Install the first Exchange 2013 multi-role server and configure it to coexist with Exchange 2010 server
• Migrate a small batch of mailboxes to Exchange 2013 and when that finishes accurately, migrate remaining mailboxes. For this too, use Stellar EDB to PST Converter.
• Decommission Exchange 2010
• Install the second Exchange 2013 multi-role server and configure it with the same settings as done for the first one
• Monitor and maintain Exchange 2013 server to keep it in good shape

Exchange 2003 to 2013 Migration

There are several methods to perform the migration process. Let’s look at each:

1. Double Hop Migration

A double hop migration involves completing the migration in 2 steps:

a. Migrate Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2010
b. Migrate Exchange 2010 to Exchange 2013

Since this migration is in principle “hopping” between Exchange versions twice, the name double hop fits the process. The process involves performing the same traditional steps to complete each phase including running complex PowerShell commands. However, this technique brings with it double risks and work as compared to any other standard migration between two subsequent versions. Also, you may require a spare hardware equipment, considerable testing, and a considerable level of technical expertise to carry it out.

2. Export / Import PST

The ideal way to migrate mailbox data from Exchange 2003 to 2013 without getting too technical is through PST export or import operations, particularly so if the number of mailboxes to be migrated isn’t very large. The process requires one to manually export Exchange 2003 mailbox data (OST files) into PST format and then importing those PST files into Exchange 2013.

The process involves the following steps:

a. Acquiring administrator rights to perform the operation
b. Execution of 2 simple Exchange Management Shell cmdlets, viz. New-MailboxExportRequest, and Get-MailboxExportRequest
c. Creating target mailboxes in Exchange 2013
d. Manual addition of legacyExchangeDN X.500 address as proxy address in the target location for each re-imported mailbox
e. Importing previously exported PST file into Exchange 2013

The above mentioned process is by far the simplest. However, if you wish to break down the process and eliminate the need to run any shell-based commands, you can export all the Exchange mailbox contents to the PST format using the reliable third-party conversion tool Stellar  Converter for EDB. This GUI-based professional software expertly converts offline as well as online Exchange Database (EDB) files into equivalent PST files. It also assists in extracting all your mailbox data such as emails, contacts, attachments, etc. without the need to open up any shell. And, in case you’ve accidentally deleted a few old Exchange mailboxes, this tool can help recover them as well. You may try the demo version of the software from here.

The Bottom Line

Migrating the email server from a legacy version to a new one can be tedious unless one has the right tools and expertise. The process often involves considerable pre-planning and testing for a successful completion. Many a times, a few mailboxes or data from some mailboxes can get lost. Therefore, the best approach is to employ automated tools which are devoid of human errors. With this in mind, Stellar Converter for EDB serves the purpose. It can help you migrate mailboxes to PST format or to Live Exchange server and Office 365 with ease.

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