Get access to and back up a former user's data


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When an employee leaves your organization, you probably want to access their data - meaning their documents and emails - and either review it, back it up, or transfer ownership to a new employee.

If you only remove a user's license but don't delete the account, the content in the user's OneDrive will remain accessible to you even after 30 days.

Before you delete the account, you should move the content of their OneDrive to another location that's easy for you to access. If you already deleted their account, you have 30 days to restore it. At that point, the data will be available to you even after 30 days. However, if you don't restore the account, after 30 days the OneDrive content is permanently deleted.

To save the content, here's what you do:

  • To preserve a former employee's OneDrive for Business documents you 1) access the former employee's OneDrive for Business, and then 2) move the files.

  • To gain access to a former employee's email, you 1) export the user's Outlook email information to a .pst file, and then 2) import the email into another employee's Outlook inbox.

Part 1 - Get access to the former employee's OneDrive for Business documents

  1. Sign in to Office 365 with your work or school account.

  2. Go to the Microsoft 365 admin center.

  3. Go to Active users and select the user.

  4. Expand OneDrive Settings in the user details pane, and then click Access files.

  5. Copy the files to your own OneDrive for Business or a common location.

    There are a few ways to copy files in Office 365. See Video: Set up document storage and sharing in Office 365. Or, to sync your files, and then upload those files to your OneDrive for Business or your team site, see Sync files with the new OneDrive sync client in Windows.


    You can move up to 500 MB of files and folders at a time. When you use Move to with documents that have version history, only the latest version is moved. To move earlier versions, you need to restore and move each one.

Part 2 - Get access to the Outlook information of the former employee

To save the email messages, calendar, tasks, and contacts of the former employee, export the information to an Outlook Data File (.pst).

  1. Add the former employee's email to your Outlook (If you reset the user's password, you can set it to something only you know.)

  2. In Outlook, choose File.

    This is what the ribbon looks like in Outlook 2016.

  3. Choose Open & Export > Import/Export.

    Import/Export command in the Backstage view

  4. Click Export to a file, and then click Next.

    Export to a file option in the Import and Export Wizard

  5. Click Outlook Data File (.pst), and then click Next.

  6. Select the account you want to export by clicking the name or email address, such as Mailbox - Anne Weiler or If you want to export everything in your account, including mail, calendar, contacts, tasks, and notes, make sure the Include subfolders check box is selected.


    You can export one account at a time. If you want to export multiple accounts, after one account is exported, repeat these steps.

    Export Outlook Data File dialog box with top folder selected and Include subfolders checked

  7. Click Next.

  8. Click Browse to select where to save the Outlook Data File (.pst). Type a file name , and then click OK to continue.


    If you've used export before, the previous folder location and file name appear. Type a different file name before clicking OK.

  9. If you are exporting to an existing Outlook Data File (.pst), under Options, specify what to do when exporting items that already exist in the file.

  10. Click Finish.

Outlook begins the export immediately unless a new Outlook Data File (.pst) is created or a password-protected file is used.

  1. If you're creating an Outlook Data File (.pst), an optional password can help protect the file. When the Create Outlook Data File dialog box appears, type the password in the Password and Verify Password boxes, and then click OK. In the Outlook Data File Password dialog box, type the password , and then click OK.

  2. If you're exporting to an existing Outlook Data File (.pst) that is password protected, in the Outlook Data File Password dialog box, type the password , and then click OK.

Check out Export or backup email, contacts, and calendar to an Outlook .pst file for the steps for Outlook 2010.

Part 3 - Give access of former employee's email to another user

To give access of the email messages, calendar, tasks, and contacts of the former employee to another employee, import the information to another employee's Outlook inbox.

  1. In Outlook, choose File > Open & Export > Import/Export.

    This starts the Import and Export Wizard.

  2. Choose Import from another program or file, and then click Next.

    Import and Export Wizard

  3. Choose Outlook Data File (.pst), and click Next.

  4. Browse to the .pst file you want to import.

  5. Under Options, choose how you want to deal with duplicates

  6. Click Next.

  7. If a password was assigned to the Outlook Data File (.pst), enter the password, and then click OK.

  8. Set the options for importing items. The default settings usually don't need to be changed.

  9. Click Finish.

Tip If you want to import or restore only a few items from an Outlook Data File (.pst), you can open the Outlook Data File, and then, in the navigation pane, click and drag the items from Outlook Data File folders to your existing Outlook folders.

Check out Import email, contacts, and calendar from an Outlook .pst file for the steps for Outlook 2010.

Remove a former employee from Office 365

Add and remove admins on a OneDrive account