Stubbing Hell

Posted by Darwin Lee on Jul 12, 2019 Last updated Oct 16, 2020

email shortcuts

How poor shortcut handling can derail your email archive migration to Office 365

Imagine trying to open an email post-migration to Office 365, and you just get …. nothing.

…or a whole bunch of emails, that you thought you’d deleted years ago, suddenly turn up unannounced in your inbox.

These are the kinds of things that can happen when you migrate email archives into Office 365.

Although migrating archives to Office 365 is a well-trodden path, the role that stubs (aka shortcuts) play in your migration success can be massively overlooked.

So, let’s look at the top 5 stub related problems to contemplate when you migrate to Office 365:

  1. Forwarded stubs that don’t migrate. Your archive migration failed to identify and migrate any items (shortcuts) that were forwarded from a co-worker.
  2. Public folders containing stubs are difficult to size. If you plan to migrate legacy public folders to the ‘modern’ public folder service in Office 365, you need to be able to ‘chop up’ your public folders into sub 100GB chunks.  Getting a fix on exactly what size your public folders are when they contain shortcuts is quite a challenge – especially when a shortcut might be a few KBs and the archived item it links to could be 10MBs (or whatever you’ve set your message size limit to in Exchange).  Often the best strategy here is to re-hydrate your public folder archives back into Exchange (on-prem) first, and then migrate.  That way, you know exactly what you’re dealing with.
  3. Stubs in public folders you think aren’t there! Although you might have blanket archiving rules in place for user mailboxes – but not public folders – think again.  One organization we encountered recently was adamant that its public folders had not been archived (therefore they didn’t need to be considered as part of the migration project). Wrong!  On inspecting the message class of the public folder contents (e.g. IPM.NOTE.EnterpriseVault.Shortcut), they found a high proportion of archived emails.  In short, users had been busy dragging and dropping stubs to archived items into public folders – and why wouldn’t they?
  4. Zombie messages – i.e. deleted stubs that come back to life post migration. Enterprise Vault, for example, does a good job of synchronizing the status and location of shortcuts, however there are some scenarios where deletions might not be picked up.  This can happen where users drag their shortcuts into the Outlook deleted items folder, rather than highlighting them and using the right-click delete option that links with EV.  It also occurs when users delete an entire folder (that contains a proportion of stubs).  Having deleted items reappear to end users is a great source of concern!
  5. Missing flags & categories. Ultimately, because stubs ‘look and feel’ like regular emails, end users treat them just like any other email.  This includes filing them into different folders (see also point 3), setting follow-up flags and categories and so on.  If the status of emails, including their current folder location or category is lost post-migration, the most organized of your end users are effectively penalized and their productivity is impacted.

There’s lots of other stubbing hell scenarios that apply, and they vary from archive to archive – even down to the version of the archive client you’re running.

To find out more about the specific archive platform you are working with, and what the stub pitfalls are, get in touch to speak to one of our email archive (and stub) migration experts.