Backing up email in Exchange Online

One of the questions we often hear is "How does Exchange Online back up my data?" You may be asking this because you're concerned about how to recover your data if there is a failure. Or, you may be wondering how to recover your data if it gets accidentally deleted. This topic answers these questions.

How does Exchange Online protect mailbox data?

Lots of things can disrupt service availability, such as hardware failure, natural disasters, or human error. To ensure that your data is always available and that services continue, even when unexpected events occur, Exchange Online uses the same technologies found in Exchange Server. For example, Exchange Online uses the Exchange Server feature known as database availability groups (DAGs) to replicate Exchange Online mailboxes to multiple databases in separate Microsoft datacenters. As a result, you can readily access up-to-date mailbox data in the event of a failure that affects one of the database copies. In addition to having multiple copies of each mailbox database, the different datacenters back up data for one another. If one fails, the affected data are transferred to another datacenter with limited service interruption and users experience seamless connectivity.


You can get the latest information related to a service interrupting event by logging into the Service Health Dashboard. For more information, see View the status of your services.

What happens if users accidentally delete data from their mailboxes?

Deleted items are stored in the Deleted Items folder of the mailbox. Items deleted from the Deleted Items folder or deleted by pressing Shift+Delete are most likely recoverable if they're dealt with in a timely manner.

For more information about how admins can recover deleted items in Exchange Online, see the following topics:


Point in time restoration of mailbox items is out of scope for the Exchange Online service. However, Exchange Online offers extensive retention and recovery support for your organization's email infrastructure, and your mailbox data is available when you need it, no matter what happens. For more information about additional options, see the following topics:

How do users backup Outlook data?

In Exchange Online, the best way to provide a backup for users is with Exchange Online Archiving. Using Outlook to backup data to .PST files isn't recommended due to the loss of discoverability and control of content.

For more information about Exchange Online Archiving, see:

For more information about the licensing requirements for Exchange Online Archiving, see the Exchange Online Archiving Service Description.

How do users restore Outlook data?

To learn how to restore deleted items in Outlook, see Recover deleted items in Outlook.

To learn how to restore deleted items in Outlook on the web (formerly known as Outlook Web App), see Recover deleted items or email in Outlook Web App.

Offboard a user from Office 365

For more info what to do when a user in your organization leaves, check out Remove a former employee from Office 365. This topic discusses the steps you should take and how to secure your data after an employee leaves your organization.