How To Migrate Microsoft Exchange Server from 2016 to 2019

Can Exchange 2016 be upgraded to 2019? Yes, here are prerequisites and update steps for you.

how to migrate microsoft exchange server 2016 to 2019

Managing digital resources for an entire organization is an arduous task, which is why server-based resource management proves helpful. Microsoft Exchange is a popular service, now allowing you to upgrade the Exchange server from 2016 to 2019. Initially introduced in 2000, it forms the backbone of email communication for many government and private enterprises. The most recent version brought many significant upgrades in over a decade, making many seek an Exchange 2016 to 2019 migration. Still, it is not something akin to upgrading an app store. There are several particulars to consider before you migrate Exchange 2016 to 2019.

What’s New With Microsoft Exchange Server 2019?

As mentioned earlier, Microsoft Exchange 2019 is available both as an on-site server and cloud-based SaaS application, the latter making it more accessible to small enterprises. However, you can reap many new benefits by upgrading Exchange 2016 to 2019. Some of the most remarkable ones include

1. Performance Enhancements

  • Improved search infrastructure: The upgraded infrastructure that comes with Exchange 2019 allows indexing of larger files, better file handling, and smoother search performance.
  • Faster, more reliable failovers: The search architecture is revamped for significantly faster and more reliable failovers between the servers.
  • Dynamic database cache: The Exchange database engine now has dynamic database allocation to make the most of the storage space on the server. It also allows for supporting modern hardware like SSDs and 48-core CPUs.

2. Upgraded Architecture

  • Minimized Server Roles: Exchange 2019 has only two dedicated roles for its servers - Mailbox and Edge Transport. It simplifies the scale of the operations, minimizes hardware utilization, and improves failure isolation.
  • Proxy Traffic Support: The architecture of Exchange 2019 allows for easily upgrading from previous client access servers with more control and flexibility.
  • MAPI Over HTTP: Enhanced stability of Outlook and Exchange connections is achieved with MAPI over HTTP, which is now the default protocol for Exchange.

3. Improved Client Control

  • Calendar Updates: Similar to Information Rights Management (IRM), attendees to any event can’t forward their invitations, and only the organizer can invite other attendees. Administrators can now cancel events from organizers who have left the company.
  • Better Out-of-Office: Exchange 2019 allows you to add events to your calendar even when you’re off-campus. You can also decide to decline on all occasions when you’re away.
  • Email Address Internationalization: Email addresses with non-English characters can now send and receive emails natively from the Exchange server.
exchange 2019 email architecture

4. Document Collaboration

  • Supporting SharePoint 2019 Servers: Linking and sharing of documents stored on OneDrive can now occur seamlessly with Exchange and SharePoint servers, removing the need for users to send them as email attachments.
  • Improved OneDrive File Handling: Microsoft Exchange allows for saving and uploading files to OneDrive while keeping track of the recently used online and offline files.

5. Enhanced Security

  • Windows Server Core Support: Exchange now minimizes the working area, limiting it to just the server core when run with Windows. An Exchange 2016 to 2019 migration will allow for fewer service components and minimize threats from trojans.
  • Limited External Access To Admin Center: There is no need for complex network or firewall rules. Exchange 2019 only allows Client Access for administrators to modify the internal settings of the server.
  • Only TLS Encryption Available: By default, Exchange 2019 only allows for TLS 1.2 for its servers, a highly secure encryption protocol favoring elliptic algorithms. It does away with older protocols that are vulnerable to breaches.

6. Archiving And Data Retention

  • Compliance Search: This new eDiscovery search tool allows for searching through an unlimited amount of mailboxes, which was limited to 10,000 for previous versions.
  • Public Folders For In-Place eDiscovery and In-Place Hold: Public folders are now part of the search for eDiscovery through In-Place. If required, users can put In-Place Hold to restrict search results for their public folders.

Why Should You Upgrade From Microsoft Exchange Server 2016 To 2019?

Now that you know what new things are on the table, there are also a few critical changes in the service. They might prompt you for an Exchange 2016 to 2019 migration. A significant reason for doing so is that Microsoft is ending the support for Exchange 2016 servers by 2025, what might very well be the end of bug fixes that can still be prevalent for the servers.

From a security perspective, Exchange 2016 is now more vulnerable. If you need the most secure communication services, Exchange 2019 is a good bet. It also supports modern tech such as SSDs and high-end chipsets, making the experience for users seamless across multiple devices.

Prerequisites Before Upgrading To Exchange 2019

You should note that, while Exchange 2019 seems like an attractive upgrade, it may not be ideal for you to upgrade exchange server 2016 to 2019 right away. It would be best to consider the prerequisites before upgrading your Exchange servers.

While Microsoft offers a broad spectrum of backward compatibility solutions, older rigs might need upgrades to run Exchange 2019. Observe the following hardware requirements for the latest iteration of Exchange:


Any 64-bit processor like the Intel EM64T or the AMD64 and above are supported

Intel Itanium IA64 NOT supported


Mailbox: 128 GB minimum

Edge Transport: 64 GB minimum

Paging File Size Set the paging file size minimum and maximum value: 25% of the installed memory
Disk Space
  • Minimum 30 GB on the drive where you’re installing Exchange
  • Minimum 200 MB free space on the system drive
  • Minimum 500 MB of free space on the drive containing the message queue database
Screen Resolution 1024 × 768 pixels or higher
File System

Any 64-bit processor like the Intel EM64T or the AMD64 and above are supported

Intel Itanium IA64 NOT supported:

  • System partition
  • Exchange binaries
  • Files generated by Exchange diagnostics logging
  • Transport database files

ReFS: Supported on directories with the following types of files:

  • Mailbox databases
  • Transaction logs

You should also note that if you migrate to Exchange Server 2019 from older versions, Exchange 2010 and earlier versions are not supported. Only Exchange 2013 with CU21 and Exchange 2016 with CU11 and later versions are carried forward to 2019.

Additionally, Exchange 2019 also has the following network and directory server requirements:

Domain controllers

All domain controllers need to run one of the following versions of Windows Server:

  • Windows Server 2019 Standard or Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2016 Standard or Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard or Datacenter
Active Directory Forest

Functional level should be Windows Server 2012 R2 or higher

Active Directory site

It is where you install the Exchange server. Must have at least one writable domain controller while also being a global catalog server.

You CANNOT install the Exchange server and remove the domain controller from the Active Directory site.

DNS namespace

Exchange 2019 supports the following DNS namespaces:

  • Contiguous
  • Noncontiguous
  • Single label domains
  • Disjoint

Exchange 2019 supports IPv6 only when IPv4 is installed and enabled on the server.

How To Migrate From Exchange Server 2016 To 2019 Step-by-Step

You can perform an Exchange Server 2016 to 2019 migration in either of two ways: Manually installing all the prerequisites and required files or streamlining the process with the use of third-party software. While the former is a sure-shot way to get the exact specifications you need from the Exchange server, the latter can help you complete the process much more swiftly without having to write a single line of code.

1. Manually Updating Exchange Servers

Step1Verify the prerequisites for Exchange 2019:

The following prerequisites need to be installed for Exchange 2019 servers:

  • NET framework 4.8
  • Microsoft Visual C++ 2012 Redistributable
  • Microsoft Visual C++ 2013 Redistributable
  • Microsoft Unified Communications Managed API 4.0
  • URL Rewrite 2.1
  • Latest Windows update
net install

Once you’ve verified all the prerequisites, you can run the installation wizard for Microsoft Exchange Server 2019. Ensure that the latest version of Outlook Anywhere is installed for the Mailbox. You can configure it from the Exchange Admin Center by clicking on the Edit button in the Exchange Server 2019 node.

ensure that outlook anywhere is installed

Next, you need to reboot the system and ensure that all the files are in perfect order before continuing the migration process.

Step2Configure the virtual directories of the Exchange 2019 server

Use the following commands to configure the virtual directories of the Exchange 2019 server

Server_name = "ex2019"
$FQDN = "<FQDN>"
Get-OWAVirtualDirectory -Server $Server_name | Set-OWAVirtualDirectory -InternalURL "https://$($FQDN)/owa" -ExternalURL "https://$($FQDN)/owa"
Get-ECPVirtualDirectory -Server $Server_name | Set-ECPVirtualDirectory -InternalURL "https://$($FQDN)/ecp" -ExternalURL "https://$($FQDN)/ecp"
Get-OABVirtualDirectory -Server $Server_name | Set-OABVirtualDirectory -InternalURL "https://$($FQDN)/oab" -ExternalURL "https://$($FQDN)/oab"
Get-ActiveSyncVirtualDirectory -Server $Server_name | Set-ActiveSyncVirtualDirectory -InternalURL "https://$($FQDN)/Microsoft-Server-ActiveSync" -ExternalURL "https://$($FQDN)/Microsoft-Server-ActiveSync"
Get-WebServicesVirtualDirectory -Server $Server_name | Set-WebServicesVirtualDirectory -InternalURL "https://$($FQDN)/EWS/Exchange.asmx" -ExternalURL "https://$($FQDN)/EWS/Exchange.asmx"
Get-MapiVirtualDirectory -Server $Server_name | Set-MapiVirtualDirectory -InternalURL "https://$($FQDN)/mapi" -ExternalURL https://$($FQDN)/mapi

The outlook clients that connect from the internal Active Directory can automatically configure themselves using Service Connection Point, also known as internal Autodiscover service Uri. You can perform the same with the following command:

Set-ClientAccessService -Identity EX2019 -AutodiscoverServiceInternalURI

autodiscover command

Step3Import Authority certificates to Exchange 2019

This one is a relatively straightforward process. All third-party certificates installed on your Exchange 2016 server are compatible with Exchange 2019 as well. You can easily import these by using the Certificates tab from the top navigation bar during the installation, as shown below:

import certificates

Step4Rename and Move The Mailboxes

It would help to rename the mailbox database before moving it to the new drive since it usually exists in long and random numbers by default. Renaming allows you to access it through search or command prompts quickly. You can rename the Mailbox by using the following command:

Get-MailboxDatabase -Server ex2019 | Set-MailboxDatabase -Name MBX-DB-2019

Next, you can move the mailbox to its required destination by using the following command:

Get-Mailbox -Database MBX-DB-2016 | New-MoveRequest -TargetDatabase MBX-DB-2019 -BatchName “MBX-DB-2016 To MBX-DB-2019”

rename exchange mailboxes

Arbitration mailboxes help you sort the mail according to custom specified categories. You can also move all arbitration mailboxes from Exchange 2016 to Exchange 2019 servers using the following command:

Get-Mailbox -Server ex2016 -Arbitration | New-MoveRequest

get exchange server 2016 arbitration

Step5Decommission Exchange Server 2016

Now that you have successfully migrated Exchange Server 2016 to 2019, it is time to say goodbye to your old email servers. Firstly, log in to the ECP and remove the hostname from the send connector. Remove the Exchange 2016 server name from the scoping page and add the Exchange 2019 server name if you have not already.

Next, you need to remove the Exchange 2016 server mailbox databases. You can do this by using the following command in the Exchange Management Shell:

Get-MailboxDatabase -Server EX2016 | Remove-MailboxDatabase:

remove exchange 2016 database

from the Programs. Right-click and choose ‘Uninstall,’ following a few more instructions in a few tabs.

2. Migrating using Third-Party Software

Now, all of that sounds like a lot of busy work. More so if you’re part of an organization that hardly has a day off. In that case, you can use any of the numerous third-party software to take the load off your schedule. You can use Stellar Convertor for Exchange 2016 to 2019 migration.

stellar converter for exchange 2016 to 2019 migration

Once you’ve verified the prerequisites, you can run the Stellar Convertor for EDB before any ECP-based management. It can help you migrate all the necessary databases without using the Exchange Management Shell, update public folders, and transfer the Office 365 files in the process. After that, it is only a tiny matter of uninstalling the old software from the Control Panel.

Summing up

Congratulations! Now you are ready to use Microsoft Exchange 2019 servers for your organization. All your mailbox databases are updated, and you can choose from any personalization options to make them look more professional. Now, all that's left is to remain up to date with the latest updates and patch notes. You can do so from the official Microsoft website.

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