distribution group migration to office 365

Till Microsoft introduced its Office 365 groups back in 2011, people used to rely on using distributed groups/lists for sending emails to a group of people together. After the introduction of Office 365 groups and all the extra bells and whistles it brings along with it. This makes people want to perform distribution group migration to Office 365. Unfortunately, the users face a lot of challenges and difficulties to carry out this process.  

In this article, we will be going through different methods that we can use to migrate distribution list to Office 365. Before that let us understand it completely 

What is a Distribution Group? And How Does it Differ From Office 365 Groups?  

Distribution Groups also known as distribution list is a set of email addresses that are used for sending notification emails to a group of people. 

These groups can also be used for receiving emails from external sources if the admin has enabled those permissions. Distribution groups are mainly used for broadcasting a piece of information to a group of people. 

On the other hand, Office 365 groups can be used to collaborate and allocate a set of resources with a selected set of people. These types of groups are especially helpful since they automatically take care of all permission allocations and is easy to setup for the admin. Let us now take a look at the different methods that can be used to migrate the distribution list to Office 365

Different Methods to Migrate Distribution Groups.

There are a couple of methods that we could use to perform the above-mentioned task. We are going to discuss 3 methods today out of which two of which are manual methods that are provided by Microsoft. These are by using EAC and by using PowerShell. By using EAC( Exchange Admin Center) the user can migrate one distribution group at a time to Office 365 group. If the user wants to migrate a batch of distribution groups then they will have to use PowerShell. 


Steps to Migrate Distribution List To Office 365 

Follow the steps using EAC for the migration process. 

Do remember that you can only migrate one distribution list at a time using this method. 

  • Go to EAC using the admin credentials and go to Recipients>>groups. 
  • Select the distribution group that you want to migrate to Office 365.
  • Now select the option  “Upgrade distribution group” from the toolbar. 
  • Now click on the Upgrade button to start the process. 


How to Migrate Distribution List to Office 365 Using PowerShell?

Follow through the commands given below to use PowerShell for the migration process. 

Upgrade-DistributionGroup -DlIdentities<Dl SMTP Email>

If you want to migrate multiple accounts then proceed with the commands below 

Upgrade-DistributionGroup -DlIdentities<DL SMTP ExampleEmail1>, <DL SMTP 

ExampleEmail2>, <DL SMTP ExampleEmail3>, <DL SMTP ExampleEmail4>

If you want to upgrade all eligible distribution groups to Office 365 groups then you have to execute the following command below 

Get-EligibleDistributionGroupForMigration | Foreach-Object { 

Upgrade-DistributionGroup -DlIdentities $_.PrimarySMTPEmail }


Limitations of Using the Manual Methods

  • You should have global admin permissions. 
  • Migration is only possible for cloud-managed non-nested distribution lists. 
  • You can not simply upgrade all distribution lists like on-premise lists, nested lists, etc.
  • If a distributed list has more than 100 owners or if the list has no owners at all then the distributed list can not be upgraded to Office 365. 


Conditions to Satisfy for Upgradation Distribution List to Office 365 Groups For Manual Method

  • The distributed list in discussion should be a child group or a member of another group. 
  • A distribution list that is a part of sender restriction in another Distributed group can not simply be upgraded. 
  • A distributed list that has special characters in its name can not be migrated. 
  • A distributed list that contains information on other User mailboxes, shared mailboxes, team mailboxes, and mail users then it can not be simply upgraded to Office 365 group.


Now let us look at the best available method that we can use to easy perform distribution group migration to Office 365 using the professional tool.


Professional Method to Upgrade Distributed Lists 

As we have discussed manual methods comes with their own set of limitations. Using manual methods can also be hectic for many users. By using the Professional Office 365 to Office 365 Migration Tool we can easily convert the Distributed group to Office 365 groups. 

Let us take a look at some of the different easy steps that we have to follow to perform degradation using the professional tool.

  • By going to the link above download install and open the tool. 
  • Make sure to choose Office 365 as both source and destination. 
  • Next, select the “groups” option along with any other category of files that you want to migrate. 
  • Go to the source and destination tab and validate your source of destination permissions by entering their respective credentials. 
  • In the next screen, there are 3 options to get the distributed groups’ data from the source 
    • Fetch 
    • Import 
    • Download Template 
  • After choosing the best option for your use case validate the source and destination by clicking on the validate button. 
  • Finally, click on the start migration button to do distribution group migration to Office 365. 

Also Read: Microsoft Office 365 Migration Checklist 

Some of the Extra Functionalities Provided by the Tool 

  • Option to easily migrate Microsoft Office 365 data such as Emails, Contacts, Calendars, Tasks, Categories, and different documents from OneDrive storage.
  • Support for performing shared mailbox migration between mailboxes. 
  • Ability to have the choice of migrating Teams data from one account to the other. 
  • Option to migrate data between online SharePoint. 
  • Ability to transfer data between Office 365 In-Place Archive Mailboxes between different accounts. 
  • Supports importing CSV files for fetching and importing data from both source and destination tenants. 
  • Option to apply various filters like a date filter for filtering out data while migrating between accounts. 
  • Ability to migrate/transfer entire or particle mailbox data between accounts using an admin account. 
  • Support for easily performing Microsoft Office 365 tenant to tenant migration. 
  • Option for performing Delta migration which can be used for transferring only the new items that have arrived in the source mailbox. 
  • Support for providing different mailboxes with different levels of priority for faster migration of the mailboxes with higher priority. 
  • The ability for mapping users while performing tenant to tenant migration. 
  • Support for a utility for migrating groups and members of the group from one Office 365 account to another Office 365 account. 
  • Data present in the “Deleted Items Folder” can not be migrated using this tool. 
  • Supports various Microsoft Office 365 subscription plans thus making the tool more versatile. 
  • Compatibility with different versions of windows including server versions 2012 and 2016.




With the introduction of Office 365 groups and the wide variety of features that comes with it. Users are more tempted than ever to perform a distribution group migration to Office 365. Office 365 group is one of the best to do collaborative work between multiple mailboxes. 

In this article, we have discussed different methods that we use to migrate distribution groups to Office 365. We have seen the limitations associated with the manual methods and how it could potentially be difficult for some users to execute. Considering all this we recommend the users to use the above-mentioned tool for an easy and simple-to-use approach to perform distribution group migration to Office 365 


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