Last night I decided to switch from my previous email hosting provider to Exchange Online. I already had an O365 subscription but I was not using Exchange online so I decided to take advantage of it. I was amazed how easy it was to make the switch. Here’s how I went about it; you’re not going to believe how easy this is!
First, I signed into the Office 365 Admin center and clicked the domains menu and Add a domain link to add my domain (see Figure 1).
This opened a killer wizard which looks like this when you begin (see Figure 2 below).
After you click the button to Start step 1, you are prompted to enter your domain name (see Figure 3 below).
Next, I landed on the page to confirm I own my domain. It turns out that my domain registrar is GoDaddy, and at this point the process amazed me.
I clicked the Confirm ownership button (see Figure 4 above) and was taken to a page where I signed in with my GoDaddy credentials (see Figure 5 below).
After signing in with my GoDaddy credentials, I was prompted to allow Office 365 to make changes to my domain at GoDaddy (see Figure 6 below).
After clicking the Accept button, I was taken to a page which confirmed I own my domain (see Figure 7 below).
Next, I chose how to add my email accounts to Exchange Online and clicked the Next button (see Figure 8 below).
At this point I filled out the form to create my account (see Figure 9 below).
After I filled out that short form, I set up the permissions for my account (see Figure 10 below).
At this point I was already two thirds of the way done, as you can see in the wizard status page (see Figure 11 below).
The next thing I did was click on the Setup in progress link on the domains page.
This took me to a page to configure the services I wanted to associate with my domain (see Figure 12 below).
I made my selections and clicked the Next button, which took me to one of the best wizard pages I have ever seen. What? Are you serious? Office 365 is going to edit all my DNS records for me? Really?
They gave me an option to do it manually, but I went for the automated approach and clicked the Set up records button (see Figure 13) below.
Less than a minute later, more like 15 seconds later, I arrived at a page which described all the changes that were made to my DNS records to accommodate the mail server switch (see Figure 14 below).
Wow! Now, the moment of truth.
Microsoft Outlook 2013 didn’t immediately work when I tried to add the new email account on Exchange Online. I got an error when trying to add the new Exchange Online email account via the Add Account wizard in Outlook, as well as when I shut down Outlook and tried to add the account via the Control Panel Mail App.
At that point I submitted a Support Request to O365 and turned my attention to another device.
I grabbed my Apple iPad and deleted the email account associated with my old email server. I then added the account now hosted on Exchange Online. This was completely painless and only required me to enter my email address and password. Less than a minute later I saw two new emails had arrived in my Exchange Online mailbox. Then I went to bed.
When I woke up, I saw that the folks from the Microsoft Help desk had called me back less than 30 minutes after I submitted the request, and they had also followed up via email. I had a few meetings in the morning and right after they wrapped up, the Microsoft Help desk called me again – nice timing!
We set up a screen-sharing session very quickly, and when I tried to replicate the error I saw the night before I could not reproduce it. The new account was easily added to Outlook.
I suspect some DNS replication issues might have been what was causing Outlook to fail. Next, I set up the account on my Galaxy S5. Again, only a username and password was required to get the account set up. Awesome!
It’s cool to note that the DNS changes didn’t affect the web hosting for my blog, which is hosted at GoDaddy as well.
Overall, this was just about as quick and painless as an email transition can get!