Tuesday, September 18, 2018

How to Get Internal Policy Acknowledgement via Microsoft Forms and SharePoint Pages


Recently I was asked to find a way for a HR manager to circulate a new policy and collect acknowledgements from staff members. In the domino world, we'd already have custom databases to do this (or we could whip one up in a matter of minutes) but I needed to find an Office 365 equivalent. 

I put the idea to the excellent Office 365 facebook group and got a number of good suggestions that I'll follow up later to see where they lead me.

I was also reminded of the Voting Buttons in outlook which are certainly the fastest method, though not the prettiest.

Since I'm determined to use mainly "the new things" in Office 365, I wanted to see if there was a really simple way to do this without getting too technical for my users. The way I found involves SharePoint and Microsoft Forms (but I'm sure that you could just as easily swap out Yammer or even Teams for SharePoint).

Procedure

1. Go to a (Modern) SharePoint site that all staff members have access to.
2. Create a new Page (Click New, then Page)
3. Give the Page a Heading



(Interlude)
I have a little trick when it comes to naming pages.
I use short headings with no spaces, then I save the page as a draft. 
This FORCES the URL into something that I like with no funny characters. Something easy to remember/type etc.
Then I edit the page and change the header to something presentable. The heading will change but the URL remains the same. 

4. Next, add a section for Microsoft Forms (click the plus symbol at the bottom of the header and choose Microsoft Forms).


 5. The form will appear with some buttons on it.  New Form or Add Existing form.  Choose New Form.

6. You'll be prompted to name your new form. Type a short name. eg: PolicyAcknowledgement and click Create.

7. Microsoft Forms will open and you might be prompted to sign in.

8. Click the button marked Create a New Form.

9. The title and description will be blank. Fill them in. Then click the button marked Add Question.



10. The next menu is graphic. Choose the circle option.

11. The next steps are to type a question (eg: "Do you agree with the policy?") and add some possible answers (Yes and No).  Since you want the users to only choose ONE of these answers, you'll want to make sure that "Multiple Answers" is set to OFF.  You'll also want to turn "Required" ON.


12. As with most Web things today, your form will already be saved. So you can switch back to your SharePoint Page and refresh it. The form won't look quite the same in edit mode, don't worry about this for now. 

13. You'll want to add your policy. There's several different ways that you can do this but all of them require adding a section. You can either add a section above or below (using the plus signs) or you can drag sections into layouts to make something creative.

14. Add a section that is either Text, an embedded document, quick links or a combination of these. Add your document and any explanatory text required.  You might also want to take advantage of some of the cool formatting options available in pages. 

Note: I had some problems getting my form to display, possibly because I changed the name during editing so I copied the URL from the forms page and pasted it into the settings for the container. This fixed the problem. 


15. Click Publish

If you're happy with the look of your policy page, you can use the promotion facilities to push it to email, to Yammer, or to make it "News" for your site.  You can also tie the form into your induction processes for the new staff and even use Microsoft Flow to send the URL annually. 


Checking the Results

If you've got the URL (and the rights) over the Form, you'll be able to check on the results anytime by clicking on the responses part of the form. This gives you a nice summary.  If you want details (names etc), click on the button marked Open in Excel

Other Uses

Just a reminder that this is one of those things that has a variety of other uses beyond simple acknowledgement.  You can use it for all kinds of surveys and quizzes. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

How to Get your Microsoft Teams to Appear for mail and calendar operations


Depending upon your settings and circumstances, there's a chance that groups created in Microsoft Teams might play so well together. 

Specifically, your team might not be available for email.  As it turns out, the teams ARE available... they're just hidden.  

and a little PowerShell is enough to coax them out. 

Our Example

In our example, the site is called Application Redevelopment and you can see from the screenshot that it appears in teams but not in outlook.


The PowerShell Commands

Session Setup

The setup is as per usual;
Start PowerShell in Administrator Mode.

Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned

Press Y and Enter.

$UserCredential = Get-Credential

Enter your user name and password.

Create the session.

$Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri https://outlook.office365.com/powershell-liveid/ -Credential $UserCredential -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection

and activate it.

Import-PSSession $Session

The relevant command.

The command we need to use is Set-UnifiedGroup and the format we're using is as follows.

Set-UnifiedGroup -Identity "GROUPNAME" -HiddenFromAddressListsEnabled:$false

Where GROUPNAME is either the name of the group or the email address of the group.

In this example, it's;

Set-UnifiedGroup -Identity "Application Redevelopment" -HiddenFromAddressListsEnabled:$false

You can use the groups email address if it's easier.
Note that you can hide a Teams Group from email by ending in $true

Tidying Up

As usual, a tidy person will alway clean up their session.

Remove-PSSession $Session

and

Exit


The Proof. 

The screen shot below is probably enough proof.


Friday, August 24, 2018

Nesting Groups in Office 365


Nesting Groups has been a bit of a pain in Office 365 for a while now but there's apparently a few answers (and some updates on the way).  

Here's a PowerShell method. 

The Setup

To start with, we're going to create a group in Office365 Admin. It should be a mail enabled security group.

In our example the group will be called;

GRP MotherGroup
and it will have an email address of MotherGroup@mydomain.com
(obviously the domain will be different at your location).

For the purposes of this exercise, you'll also want to create several groups to be nested.
These are distribution groups and their names and emails for the purposes of our demonstration will be;
GRP BabyGroup1  babygroup1@mydomain.com
GRP BabyGroup2  babygroup2@mydomain.com
GRP BabyGroup3  babygroup3@mydomain.com
GRP BabyGroup4  babygroup4@mydomain.com


The PowerShell Commands

As usual, you'll want to run PowerShell in Administrator Mode.

Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned
Press Y and Enter.

$UserCredential = Get-Credential
You'll be prompted to logon with your user name and password.  If you have multi-factor authentication enabled, you'll probably have a few extra hoops to jump through here.

$Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri https://outlook.office365.com/powershell-liveid/ -Credential $UserCredential -Authentication  Basic -AllowRedirection

This creates the session

Import-PSSession $Session

This activates the session.

The next command is specific to your group. It looks like this (boldfaced parts will be replaced).

Add-DistributionGroupMember -Identity -Member


If you're following our example, the commands would be as follows;
Add-DistributionGroupMember -Identity MotherGroup@mydomain.com -Member babygroup1@mydomain.com
Add-DistributionGroupMember -Identity MotherGroup@mydomain.com -Member babygroup2@mydomain.com
Add-DistributionGroupMember -Identity MotherGroup@mydomain.com -Member babygroup3@mydomain.com
Add-DistributionGroupMember -Identity MotherGroup@mydomain.com -Member babygroup4@mydomain.com


As usual, because we're neat people, we remove our session before exiting...
Remove-PSSession $Session
Exit

If you go into the Office 365 Admin console, you should be able to find your group, now with the nested subgroups below it. It's a painful process but it works.


Tuesday, August 14, 2018

What can OneDrive, Synch and SharePoint File Libraries offer Business?


I do a lot of reading on the Microsoft tech boards and I find the information that Microsoft provides around OneDrive to be both confusing and lacking in detail. I wrote this post as a means of clearing up some of the confusion.  

So, here's my interpretation and opinions on what OneDrive and File Libraries in SharePoint (via a proper Office 365 E3 or E5 subscription) can offer;

The Sync Client isn't all that Important

SharePoint file libraries can replace all of your networked drive needs and these facilities have come a long way in the last few years.

In fact, for the most part, SharePoint has finally eclipsed the need for the OneDrive Sync client. 

There's a few minor exceptions to this rule.

  • You still can't easily "link" files, so if you have an excel file which updates its data from other excel files, it a real pain to add and install those connections -- and it's much easier if you have a local synced connection.
  • Saving files in Office applications, Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc now works very well with pure SharePoint  (finally... after the July 2018 updates). Unfortunately, the same ease of use does not apply with non-Microsoft products, such as NitroPDF, PhotoShop, or any of the other programs that use the old style windows dialog boxes. You'll need local sync if you plan to use these too.
  • If you're often travelling and will need to work in places without an internet connection, then you're going to need your file available locally. For that you'll need OneDrive Sync.
  • My personal favourite reason for using the OneDrive sync application is to sync only the corporate templates folders (and point your local Word's Workplace Templates folder to the synced folder)
If, on the other hand, all of your work is in Office and/or the web browser and if you're only working in places where there's an internet connection then you can safely forget OneDrive file sync.


It's All About SharePoint

Having your files stored in SharePoint will allow you to access them via any PC, Mac, tablet or phone anywhere in the world without the need for dedicated security infrastructure such as a VPN.

Having your files there will also ensure that they are version controlled. This means that you can restore old versions of them if you overwrite or delete them -- up to about 90 days.  If you need longer, you'll have to invest in backup solution like Veem, StorageCraft or Veritas.

Internal and External sharing and Security can be achieved by storing your files in different SharePoint "sites" or in separate File libraries in a single SharePoint site, depending on how you set things up.

Essentially SharePoint's file library replaces all of your old-style network drives.

The OneDrive Sync Application

The OneDrive Sync Application will allow you to synchronise data between SharePoint File libraries and your computer.  This is important if you need to access and modify files on the go without an internet connection.  It's also a useful thing if you want to do local backups. 

Changes made to local OneDrive files will sync to the relevant SharePoint sites and to all other synched versions of the site (ie: to other people's synched copies on their own computers).  Deletes are also synched meaning that if someone deletes their synched files their own computer, it will delete them off the network and off all other computers. 

This makes the OneDrive sync application a bit of a liability -- and increases the importance of locking users out of the system once they leave employment. 

You can still restore files but prevention is better than a cure.

Until very recently (late July 2018), you really needed to sync your files because saving directly from Word to SharePoint was ridiculously difficult.  It's now changed and it's very easy, so the need for local OneDrive sync is drastically reduced.

Saving to SharePoint in Excel - Finding libraries has never been easier.

In my opinion, it's recommended that you don't sync if you can help it as sync provides malware (and accidents) with an easier path to data on your server.

The OneDrive Folder 

Not to be confused with the similarly named sync application, the OneDrive folder is actually for personal storage. If you have a home account like hotmail or outlook.com, you'll already have a personal OneDrive that you can use. 

If you're in a business with an Office 365 account, you'll also have a business-personal OneDrive. In the business, this is like your home drive on a network.  Nobody else can see it and it's a great place to store things that you're working on but aren't ready to release yet,

You can randomly share things out to other people from your home drive, so you have more flexibility than the old home drive concept.  Depending upon your organisation's settings, you can also share files and folders outside of your business making the security on your personal OneDrive much more flexible than a SharePoint document library.

Of course, just because you can, it doesn't mean that you should. Don't be tempted to use your OneDrive in place of your main business folders. SharePoint is a much better bet. 


Wednesday, August 01, 2018

How to Get the Members of an Office 365 Group via PowerShell

If you have a few big groups, you'll probably be asked to provide a list of their members on occasion. Like Notes, if you don't have a CRM on the front of your system, it's hard to get a list of group members that includes anything apart from their name... unless of course, you use PowerShell.

Note: If you're copying and pasting from this blog entry, it's worth pasting into notepad so that you can rejoin any lines before pasting into PowerShell. I only give you one command at a time, so it should all be on one line.

The Procedure

Start PowerShell (in Administrator Mode) and connect to Office 365

Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned

(and press Y )

$UserCredential = Get-Credential

Enter your email address and password.

If you're using 2 Factor Authentication...

You'll need to open the Microsoft Exchange Online Powershell Module which should be on your desktop if you've followed the instructions (see this post).

Enter the following command (changing the email address to be your own)

Connect-EXOPSSession -UserPrincipalName myemail@mydomain.com -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri https://ps.outlook.com/powershell -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection

then...

$Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri https://outlook.office365.com/powershell-liveid/ -Credential $UserCredential -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection

then

Import-PSSession $Session

I got a lot error text at this point (WARNING: Proxy creation has been skipped for the following command -- followed by a large list of yellow commands). I think you can get around this by entering a session instead of importing it but my PowerShell experience doesn't really stretch that far -- and the command works in any case, so there's no need. (yet).

Make a note of your group's email address: mygroupemail@mydomain.com
and the path to a CSV file where you want to save the output. C:\temp\MemberList.csv

You'll want to change both of those bits in the next command.

Get-DistributionGroupMember -Identity "mygroupemail@mydomain.com" | Export-csv C:\temp\MemberList.csv -NoTypeInformation

Cleaning up afterwards

Exit the session...
Exit-PSSession

and then remove it. 
Remove-PSSession $Session

and then exit the PowerShell window.
Exit 

Looking at the Output

The output of your command will be a CSV file that you can open in Excel. At first glance, it's probably not going to look very nice. It's got columns from A-DH but they're mostly empty. Here's how to clean it up, obviously the columns are subject to change whenever Microsoft feels like it but it's probably worth creating a Macro for. 

  • Remove Columns A-C
  • Keep Column D and E (Identity and Alias)
  • Remove Columns F-G
  • Keep Column H (City)
  • Remove Column I
  • Keep Column J-L (Company,  Country and Postcode)
  • Remove Columns M-AP
  • Keep Column AQ (First Name)
  • Remove Columns AR-AS
  • Keep Column AT (Last Name)
  • Remove Columns AU-BC
  • Keep Column BD (Phone)
  • Remove Columns BE-BF
  • Keep Column BG (Email)
  • Remove Columns BH-BL 
  • Keep Column BM (State)
  • Remove Column BN
  • Keep Column BO (Position Title)
  • Remove Columns BP-CX
  • Optionally keep Columns CY-CZ (Create and Modify Dates)
  • Remove Columns DA-DH

The result should be a usable spreadsheet. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

If you use Multi-Factor Authentication, you need another Module to connect PowerShell

Last week, following best practice guidelines, we switched to Multi-Factor Authentication. While it was a little painful at first, it's working well now for our admin team. I'm not sure if or when we'll push this out to our users. It might be too difficult for them.

(in fact, personally, I think that Google's token system might be far easier)


In any case, as it turns out, we can't login to PowerShell now that MFA is running.

A little searching provided the answer. We had to install an extension for PowerShell.  The process is already very well documented, so I won't go over here except to add one observation;


  • You must install it via Edge (or possibly IE) -- it won't install via Chrome. 

Updating Contact Information in Office 365 from CSV via PowerShell

Some time ago, we did an export of our Domino contacts into the Office 365 address book. It was mostly successful and we got the users and their email addresses but missed a lot of detail on the phone numbers, company names and fax numbers. 

At the time it didn't matter but recently we reached a point where we needed this information to be present. 

The process was much fiddlier than it should have been, so here's how we did it.

Exporting out of Domino

This was easy, literally a five minute job for about 5000+ contacts. Domino has menu options to export as CSV, so I won't go into detail here.

The end result is that you should have a CSV file that looks something like this;

ExternalEmailAddress,FirstName,LastName,Name,Title,Company,Phone,MobilePhone,Fax,StreetAddress,City,StateorProvince,PostalCode,CountryOrRegion
atano@clonewars.com,Ashoka,Tano,Ashoka Tano,,Cartoon Network,08 8988 9889,,,,,,,
ynotfar@dagpbah.com,Yoda,Not Far,Yoda Not Far,Jedi Master,Food of this Kind Ltd,,,,GPO Box 1234,Dagobah,,1556,Dagobah System
pkoon@jeditemple.com,Plo,Koon,Plo Koon,Jedi Master,Plo's Mask Emporium,03 5468 4889,0417 650 456,03 5406 8790,"Jedi Temple, Suite 66",Coruscant,COR,1234,Central Systems
spalpatine@dualidentities.com,Sheev,Palpatine,Sheev Palpatine,Chancellor,Always Two Limited,02 1264 5640,0442 548 987,02 8987 9802,"Red Suite, Level 4000",Coruscant,,,Central Systems

Ideally, you'll be able to paste that test data into notepad, save as CSV and have a working template but just in case you can't, it's essentially 14 fields;



  • ExternalEmailAddress
  • FirstName
  • LastName
  • Name
  • Title
  • Company
  • Phone
  • MobilePhone
  • Fax
  • StreetAddress
  • City
  • StateorProvince
  • PostalCode
  • CountryOrRegion



PowerShell

From here, you start PowerShell (in Administrator Mode) and connect to Office 365

Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned

$UserCredential = Get-Credential

You'll be prompted to sign in with an Office 365 ID that has global admin rights.

$Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri https://outlook.office365.com/powershell-liveid/ -Credential $UserCredential -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection

Import-PSSession $Session

In this next step, we're presuming that your CSV file is saved as C:\temp\AllPeople.csv.  If you saved it elsewhere or under a different name, you'll need to update that line.

$Contacts = Import-CSV C:\temp\AllPeople.csv

The next section says which fields to import. We discovered that there were a lot of problems with this statement. 

  • If you include fields which aren't in your CSV, then no fields get imported. 
  • If ONE field breaks the rules (eg: a company with a length of over 64 characters, then that will eventually halt the processing of the entire input file). In our case, I used Excel to return Left(CompanyName, 62) where Len(CompanyName) > 62.  It fixed a big problem. 


$contacts | ForEach {Set-Contact $_.Name -StreetAddress $_.StreetAddress -City $_.City -StateorProvince $_.StateorProvince -PostalCode $_.PostalCode -Phone $_.Phone -MobilePhone $_.MobilePhone -Company $_.Company -Title $_.Title -Fax $_.Fax}

You should still expect quite a few errors when running this command as names which don't match perfectly from one system to another, particularly those with accent characters, will most likely fail.

As usual, you'll want to finish up with;

Remove-PSSession $Session
To clear any variables out 

and 
Exit
to close the Powershell window. 

You should be able to see the results in Office 365 immediately. 

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

How to Change the Domain of an Office 365 Group

It's not an unfamiliar scenario with all of the rebranding that's happening these days. Your Office365 group has the wrong mail domain and now you want to change it.

It's the kind of thing that you'd expect to be able to change via the admin portal. After all, there's a neat little domain selector box on the page.

Alas, that's not how Office 365 groups work.

You need PowerShell for that one.

PowerShell to the Rescue

PowerShell, the interface you have when you don't have an interface... 

Here's how to change the domain on your group.

Run PowerShell as an Administrator and type the following commands;


  1. Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned
  2. $UserCredential = Get-Credential
  3. $Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri https://outlook.office365.com/powershell-liveid/ -Credential $UserCredential -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection
  4. Set-UnifiedGroup -Identity "Group English Name" -PrimarySmtpAddress "GroupNewEmailAddress"

    Where Group English Name is the English Name of the Group (ie: not the email address
    and
    GroupNewEmailAddress is the new email address that you want the group to have
  5. Remove-PSSession $Session
  6. Exit


A Walkthrough

The commands that you are expected to type appear below in boldface;

Windows PowerShell
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

PS C:\WINDOWS\system32> Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned

Execution Policy Change
The execution policy helps protect you from scripts that you do not trust. Changing the execution policy might expose you to the security risks described in the about_Execution_Policies help topic at https:/go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=135170. Do you want to change the execution policy? [Y] Yes  [A] Yes to All  [N] No  [L] No to All  [S] Suspend  [?] Help (default is "N"): y

PS C:\WINDOWS\system32> $UserCredential = Get-Credential

cmdlet Get-Credential at command pipeline position 1
Supply values for the following parameters:
Credential

PS C:\WINDOWS\system32> $Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri https://outlook.office365.com/powershell-liveid/ -Credential $UserCredential -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection


PS C:\WINDOWS\system32> Import-PSSession $Session

WARNING: The names of some imported commands from the module 'tmp_vwnpqgxq.qak' include unapproved verbs that might make them less discoverable. To find the commands with unapproved verbs, run the Import-Module command again with the Verbose parameter. For a list of approved verbs, type Get-Verb.

ModuleType Version    Name                                ExportedCommands
---------- -------    ----                                ----------------
Script     1.0        tmp_vwnpqgxq.qak                    {Add-AvailabilityAddressSpace, Add-DistributionGroupMember...


PS C:\WINDOWS\system32> Set-UnifiedGroup -Identity "All Staff" -PrimarySmtpAddress "AllStaff@newdomain.com"

PS C:\WINDOWS\system32> Remove-PSSession $Session

PS C:\WINDOWS\system32> Exit

Sunday, March 11, 2018

It's Easy to Send Attachments from SharePoint - Here's How.



Attaching files from SharePoint has gotten a little easier of late. I'm not quite sure when the changes happened but they're very welcome.  

The new functionality is available in the outlook client and outlook web access. It's available for most SharePoint groups right now, with SharePoint groups created via Yammer following at the end of May 2018.

Attachments in the Outlook Client

Use the following steps to attach a file via the Outlook client;

  1. Create a new Email
  2. On the Message Tab, click Attach,
  3. Below the list of recent documents, click Browse Web Locations
  4. When this expands to show a list, choose Group Files
  5. You should see your SharePoint libraries appear in a list.
There's a few reasons why you might not see all of your libraries. 
  • If this is the first time that you're using this feature, or if you're using a new installation of Outlook, it may take a while (up to 20 minutes) to fully populate the list of sites. You don't have to wait there with the list open, just come back in 20 minutes and try again.
  • If your SharePoint group was originally created from Yammer, it's not supported (yet). This is coming at the end of May 2018.
  • You may have too many groups to display. If so, you can expand the list by scrolling or by dragging the three dots at the very bottom of the menu option. 
Click on this to see a larger version.
Once you've selected your file, you'll be prompted to choose whether you want to attach it as a copy or share it as a OneDrive link. 


Bear in mind that the file will obey the security rules of the original SharePoint library, so if your library isn't available to outside parties, they won't be able to access the file.

Attachments in Outlook Web Access (OWA)

These days, I spend very little time in the outlook client (in fact, usually only when I'm troubleshooting for someone else). OWA is good enough to compete, and in many better, than the outlook client. 



Getting to cloud locations is much easier in OWA,

  1. In a new Email, click Attach
  2. Select Cloud Locations
  3. A large dialog box will appear showing you a number of different options. 
  4. Click on Group Files to see the SharePoint libraries.
  5. From there, you can click and browse your way to your attachment.



The OWA interface is quite slick but there's one significant omission for now...
While you can get to the default (Shared Documents) document library of any SharePoint site, I can't seem to find a way to get to any other libraries you've created.  

The feature is available in the outlook app however, so it's only a matter of time before it's implemented in the cloud. In the meantime, it's not a major issue because the full libraries are accessible via OneDrive in the Cloud and via SharePoint in the Cloud. 



Once you've selected a file in the outlook app, it's attached automatically as a link. This is essentially the same as choosing "Share as OneDrive Link" in the application. If your external party is unlikely to have access to the file (or if you want to protect your original file), you might want to send a copy instead.

To do this, simply click on the drop down arrow to the right of the attachment and choose "attach as a copy".



The Outlook App (iOS and Android*)

* All screen shots here are from Android... iOS may differ slightly. 

If you're using outlook on a mobile device, you have easy access to SharePoint libraries too.  You'll need to be using the official Microsoft apps though; OneDrive, SharePoint and Outlook (not the mail application that came with your phone).

Right now you can browse through your recent attachments in outlook but you don't have full access to SharePoint libraries directly from the mail app.  I'm sure that's coming soon. In the meantime, you still have full access via OneDrive. 

To access the full libraries on mobile devices;


  1. Open your OneDrive App
  2. Touch Sites (at the bottom of the screen)
  3. Choose your library
  4. Browse until you find your file.
  5. Open your file.
  6. Press the SHARE icon (it's the sideways triangle with balls).
  7. You have an option for outlook on the first share screen but if you choose this, it will paste a link to the live file in the outlook app.  This is fine if the person is an internal staff member or if they have access to that particular SharePoint library but if not...
  8. You should touch "Send Files'
  9. Then choose outlook on the next screen. This will give you an attachment. 



That's all there is to it. 





Thursday, January 04, 2018

Archiving Mailboxes in the Office 365 World

In the Domino world, we used to just change the access controls on NSFs and copy or replicate them directly from the server to a PC but since we've moved to Outlook, and specifically  to Office 365, getting those mail files from the cloud has been an increasingly difficult business. 

To be fair, this was difficult under IBM as well, once we moved into the Verse cloud. 

Your Current Procedures aren't Working

When I first started trying to get backups of files, I had a lot of people tell me how easy it was. I followed their advice -- and yes, it was easy.  After all, there's a menu option inside outlook that lets you export directly to a PST file.

It was too easy. I was suspicious though. Suspicious that a person with a 10 year occupation could have a mail file that was a mere 400 MB. I looked into it and sure enough, the outlook method only gives you a recent subset of your data.

If you've been backing up PSTs from the cloud using outlook, you're missing a lot of data. 


Does the Problem Need Solving?

Before I go into the details of how to solve this problem, it's worth mentioning that there is another workaround that might be more suitable. I'm talking about Shared Mailboxes.

In Office 365, you can convert a user's mailbox to a shared mailbox and allow other people to access it. The downside of this is that you no longer have a perfect legal representation of that mailbox as it was when the user left (as new users could potentially edit, delete and add to it).  The good news is that shared mailboxes don't consume office licences though unfortunately, you can't delete the original users from your active directory. They're still required to be present for the mailbox.

In our case,  we keep a copy of all mail files in PST format for our records - and we use shared mailboxes only when necessary to provide access when someone critical has left. Shared mailboxes of previous employees should generally be a fairly temporary thing. 


How to Archive to PST

The PST archiving process is a little convoluted but it's accurate as it gets the mail file information from eDiscovery. Once you have your PST, and you've tested it of course, you can delete the user (or convert the mailbox to a shared mailbox).

So, without further ado, here's the instructions via slideshare.