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Convert Office 365 Mailbox with Online Archive to a Shared Mailbox

Posted on 2016-08-05
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Last Modified: 2016-08-21
I am new to Office 365, but it seems fairly easy to be able to convert a licensed mailbox into a shared mailbox in the event of an employee exit.  You can then share out the mailbox to other staff.  Easy.

But, if the employee who left is a longer term employee who has an online archive (we set ours for 2 years to move from main to archive) you have a problem.  If you convert to a shared mailbox, you lose the archive.  

An alternate suggestion would be to convert the mailbox into an "inactive mailbox" which is an enterprise level option relating to litigation hold.  This allows you to retain the information forever - and release the license.  But, it cannot be accessed except via ediscovery tools and would have to be converted back into a mailbox for it to be shareable.  

So, after that long winded intro, what I think I need is a procedure to consolidate an archived mailbox back into it's main mailbox so that the fully consolidated main mailbox can then be converted into a shared mailbox.  Exporting the archive to a PST probably is not quick or efficient.  And then, what do you do when you have the PST?  Import it into the shared mailbox?  That will take longer than the creation of the pst.

Suggestion?
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Question by:APPA_IT_Staff
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Expert Comment

by:Vasil Michev (MVP)
ID: 41744574
If you need both access to the archive and access in 'real time', leave the mailbox as it is. Or convert it to shared one but keep the license, so the archive stays.

There is no automatic way to move the items from the archive back into the primary mailbox if you want them in the relevant folders. You can to it via the export, or manually in Outlook, alternatively you can use some EWS based script such as the one here: https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/emeamsgdev/2014/10/22/powershell-merge-mailbox-folders/
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Author Comment

by:APPA_IT_Staff
ID: 41744736
Based on what I've read thus far, you lose the archive whether you keep the license or not.   That's why this is tricky.  Do you have any references otherwise?

Thanks for the link to the Powershell article.  I had found that independently, but was hoping for something easier - I have little-to-no Powershell experience.  Looks like that is going to have to change.
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by:Vasil Michev (MVP)
ID: 41744904
It's clearly stated in the Exchange Online Service description document: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/exchange-online-limits.aspx#StorageLimits

Shared mailboxes don’t require a separate license. However, if you want to enable In-Place Archive or put an In-Place Hold or a Litigation Hold on a shared mailbox, you must assign an Exchange Online Plan 1 with Exchange Online Archiving or Exchange Online Plan 2 license to the mailbox.
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Author Comment

by:APPA_IT_Staff
ID: 41744923
Yes, I agree that's what it says - and I interpret that as meaning that if you build a Shared Mailbox, you can assign a policy to it that will create an online archive for that shared mailbox and that said archive will appear when messages are migrated from the main mailbox to the archive mailbox.  I have the Enterprise plan, so we're good in that respect.

However, this does not prove that you can convert a licensed user with an online archive to a shared mailbox AND that both the main mailbox and the archived mailbox of the user will migrate to the shared mailboxes respectively.  Indeed, the comments in other discussion forms indicate that you lose the archive in the process of the conversion.

Your link, while useful as to the existence of shared mailbox archives does not address the act of converting a mailbox with an archive - based on what I can see.  And that is the crux of my question.  Most likely, your original posting of powershell script references are going to be the only way to address the issue.
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Expert Comment

by:Vasil Michev (MVP)
ID: 41745157
Archives dont appear by assigning a policy, but by selecting the corresponding "enable archive" action. Thus, you are making a deliberate decision to enable it. Also, nothing is migrated when you convert a user mailbox to a shared one. It simply changes a flag. The mailbox and its archive is exactly the same as it was before. Even the user object is the same. But if you want to keep the archive, you need to make sure that a valid Exchange license is assigned to the corresponding user object.

You can always open a case with MS to get them to write it in an email if the above article is not enough to convince you.
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Accepted Solution

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APPA_IT_Staff earned 0 total points
ID: 41749244
As a follow up, my network engineer is using the Powershell script with a lot of throttling issues.  However, in the powershell link above, it turns out there were some fixes in the comments section on those web pages.  Those fixes tune down the consolidation enough to keep Msft from throttling.  

Bottom line, if you have a user mailbox with an archive and you want to convert the mailbox to a shared mailbox, you either need to use the Powershell procedure for consolidation of the mailbox before conversion...or you have to abandon the archive.

Not an ideal solution.  Hopefully, Microsoft will make a change to that asap.
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Author Closing Comment

by:APPA_IT_Staff
ID: 41764172
The one person who commented was argumentative and inaccurate.  Ultimately, there is no solution at this time.
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