Common Question: How to hold former employee(s) email?

Todd Sweetser

Hi Cloud Sellers!

A common question we receive from partners regarding Office 365 Exchange Online is “Can Exchange Online retain emails from employees after they leave the company WITHOUT using an Exchange Online license?”

The quick answer is YES! This would utilize a function called “Inactive Mailboxes.” It works via the Exchange Online In-Place or Litigation Hold capabilities. One important pre-requisite, this does require an Exchange Online license that includes Exchange Online Archiving. This includes Exchange Plan 2, E3 and E4. Exchange Online Archiving can also be added to the Office 365 Business Essentials, Business Premium, Exchange Plan 1 and E1 SKUs as well for $3.00 per user per month. 

Here is a description of Inactive Mailboxes from the documentation:

When an employee leaves the organization, you can remove their Office 365 account. The employees’ mailbox data is preserved for 30 days after the account is removed. During this period, you can still recover the user’s data by undeleting the account. After 30 days, the data is removed permanently.

But if your organization needs to archive mailbox content for departed employees, you can turn the mailbox into an inactive mailbox by placing it on In-Place Hold or Litigation Hold and then removing the corresponding Office 365 account. The contents of an inactive mailbox are preserved for the duration of the hold that was placed on the mailbox before it was made inactive. You can still recover the corresponding user account for 30-day period. However, after 30 days, the inactive mailbox is preserved in Exchange Online until the hold is removed.

Once the mailbox is in the Inactive state, it is possible to search for email content via eDiscovery mechanisms in Exchange Online, as well as recover, restore or delete the data as required. Note that Inactive Mailboxes do NOT require a license.

Here is the full documentation on Inactive Mailboxes in Exchange Online.

Thanks, and good selling!