Friday, April 12, 2013

Outlook "Cannot copy or move because it contains private items" error

Update 3/25/15

I can't believe it's been almost 2 years since this was posted. Since the original post I've had mixed luck with this method, which has led me to believe the original is not necessarily a fix. However, I have not seen this error when I log in as the actual user, which is because the user has access to everything within its mailbox. I've been backing up the mailboxes this way and it works fine.

1. Assign license to user account (if one isn't already assigned)
2. Reset the user account password so you have the login info
3. Enable login for the user if you had previously disabled it
4. Convert the mailbox back to a regular mailbox if you had made it a shared mailbox
5. Set up an Outlook profile with the user account info, making sure to turn off Cached Exchange mode
6. Open Outlook with the profile and login
7. Export to PST from within Outlook
8. Remove the profile from Outlook
9. Delete the user account from O365
10. Repeat for other user accounts you want to back up and remove

Of course you should modify those steps for your own needs (e.g. only delete the user account if you actually want to), but in general you can get around the private items error this way. If you're trying to do this for an active user you'll have to work with the user to have them login to his or her mailbox so you can run the export.

Original post 4/12/13

I ran into the "Cannot copy or move because it contains private items" error today while trying to copy a folder from an ex-employee's mailbox to the mailbox of the person taking over that ex-employee's duties. Being the admin I thought it was kind of an odd message to run into, but taking to Google I had an answer within a minute:

Apparently the same error doesn't happen if you use drag-and-drop rather than copy/paste. if you want to copy the folder, you can hold Ctrl and click on the folder, then drag it to the mailbox you want to copy it to.

If you're looking to move the folder rather than copy, then click and drag-and-drop without holding the Ctrl key.

Worked like a charm for me. The KB references Outlook 2002 and 2003, but I'm running Outlook 2007 and saw the same issue and that same fix worked for me.


ND said...

did not work for me though...
outlook 2010 exchange 2010
had to go to main user's mailbox and add delegate and check the 'user can see my private items' checkbox

rslygh said...

I've had mixed luck with this as well since posting, and generally it still isn't working. I've resorted to reactivating the user account, setting it up in Outlook, and then backing it up by logging in as that user. Turn off cached mode if you're doing this in order to save yourself the initial sync time. I'm going to update this post as well.