Import an Online Archive to your Mailbox

Online Archives are a great way to increase your mailbox storage in Microsoft 365 but they have some drawbacks, most notably for backup and retention. If you need to delete your archives for compliance but don’t want to lose the mail, you will need to move the archived emails back into your main inbox.

There are 2 ways you can do this. The first is simply to drag and drop the emails into the same folders.

If you have a large archive or a lot of folders, the second approach might be easier, which is to export the Archive to a PST file, then import it back into your mailbox.

Important! Before you do this, you will need to co-ordinate with your IT provider so that after you have exported the PST they remove your archive, otherwise when you import the PST back in the mail policies may start to move the imported items back into the archive.

Part 1 – Export

First you’ll need to export your Archive to a PST using Outlook. Note, this might take some time and you will not be able to use Outlook while the export is in progress, so you might want to get this running at the end of the day or switch over to webmail for the duration.

  • In Outlook go to File > Open & Export > Import/Export

Run the Import/Export wizard in Outlook
  • Export to a File
  • Choose Outlook Data File (PST)
  • Select the Online Archive
  • Include subfolders
Choose the top of the Archive and tick Include Subfolders
  • Choose a location (ideally somewhere not synced with OneDrive)
  • Export without duplicates
Choose a location to export without duplicates

Once the export has completed, confirm with your IT Department and ask them to remove your Archive.

Part 2 – Import

The next step is to use Outlook again, this time to import the PST file. As before, this process will take some time and you won’t be able to use Outlook while the import is in progress.

  1. In Outlook go to File > Open & Export > Import/Export
  2. Import from another program or file
  3. Choose Outlook Data File (PST)
  4. Browse to and select the file you exported
  5. Do not import duplicates
  6. Make sure your own mailbox is selected in the drop down for importing items into the same folders
Import your PST into your mailbox

Once you have finished, I recommend that you then delete the PST from your computer.


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