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When users are leaving you want to preserve there mail or mailbox. Exporting it to pst files is not the way to do it, but keeping there mailbox with an expensive Office 365 license neither. What we want to do is archive the mail so it’s easily accessible later to other users.

With Office 365 you can add retention policies to preserve content – email, documents, instant messages, for an x amount of time. We can use these retention policies to preserve the mail content from terminated users, so we can access the data without the need of an Office 365 license. To enable retention policies, you need at least an Exchange Online Plan 2, or a separate Exchange online Archiving license.

If the mailbox your want to preserve only has an Exchange Online plan 1, you can temporary upgrade it to a Exchange Online Plan 2.

Setting up a Retention Policy

Logon to your Office 365 portal and goto the security and compliance center. Under Data Governance open Retention to create a new Retention Policy.

Step 1

Click the create button to create a new Retention Policy. Give you policy a name the also explains the policy.

Step 2

Under settings we can choose how long we want to preserve the content or when we want to delete the content. To keep the email forever, we select Yes, I want to retain it > Forever

Step 3

Choose the location where the policy will be applied to. In the case we only select the Exchange Email. Optional we can choose to apply to policy to specific recipients or exclude recipients from the policy.

Step 4

At the last step you can turn on Preservation Lock. When you turn this on, nobody can change or delete the policy anymore.

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Retrieving the email

When the email is retained from a former user you can’t just open the inbox from that user in your Outlook. To find a mail you will have to use eDiscovery or Content Search to search for the particular email. You will find them also in the Security and Compliance center.

Before we can start searching we need to make sure that we are a member of the eDiscovery Manager role group in the Security and Compliance center. To do this we go to Permissions and edit the eDiscovery Manager. Select the eDiscovery Manager and on the right side click Edit (2x) and add the user that is allowed to search the inboxes from the former users.

Content Search

When you open Content Search you can add a new search. Give it a name and select the mailboxes that you want to search. Click Next when done.

On the next page you can add the keywords and/or conditions to search for. With the conditions you can narrow down the search:

  • Filtering between dates
  • Message type
  • Subjects
  • Sender / receiver
  • and many more..

After you set the filters, click search to start it. You will be send make to the overview where you can see that the search is in progress, this will take a few minutes. When done you Preview the results to see if the results are what you expected, if not, edit the search conditions and run in again.

If you got what you need, then you can export the results to a pst file and open it in Outlook