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

Tip

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When an employee leaves your organization, you probably want to access their data (documents and emails) and either review it, back it up, or give it to a new employee.

Access a former user's OneDrive documents

If you remove a user's license but don't delete the account, you can give yourself access to the content in the user's OneDrive. If you delete the user's account, you have 30 days by default to access the former user’s OneDrive data. Learn how to set the OneDrive retention for deleted users. If you don't restore a user account within this time, their OneDrive content is deleted.

To preserve a former user's OneDrive files, first give yourself access to their OneDrive, and then move the files you want to keep.

Note

If you're not using the new Microsoft 365 admin center, you can turn it on by selecting the Try the new admin center toggle located at the top of the Home page.

  1. In the admin center, go to the Users > Active users page.

  2. Select a user.

  3. In the right pane, select OneDrive. Under Get access to files, select Create link to files.

  4. Select the link to open the file location. Download the files to your computer, or select Move to or Copy to to move or copy them to your own OneDrive or to a shared library.

Note

You can move or copy up to 500 MB of files and folders at a time.
When you move or copy documents that have version history, only the latest version is moved.

  1. In the admin center, go to the Users > Active users page.

  2. Select a user.

  3. In the right pane, expand OneDrive Settings, and then next to Access, select Access files.

  4. Select the link to open the file location. Download the files to your computer, or select Move to or Copy to to move or copy them to your own OneDrive or to a shared library.

Note

You can move or copy up to 500 MB of files and folders at a time.
When you move or copy documents that have version history, only the latest version is moved.

  1. In the admin center, go to the Users > Active users page.

  2. Select a user.

  3. In the right pane, expand OneDrive Settings, and then next to Access, select Access files.

  4. Select the link to open the file location. Download the files to your computer, or select Move to or Copy to to move or copy them to your own OneDrive or to a shared library.

Note

You can move or copy up to 500 MB of files and folders at a time.
When you move or copy documents that have version history, only the latest version is moved.

Revoke admin access to a user’s OneDrive

As global admin, you can give yourself access to the content in a user’s OneDrive, but you may want to remove your access when you no longer need it.

  1. Sign in to the admin center as a global admin or SharePoint admin.
  1. Sign in to the admin center as a global admin or SharePoint admin.
  1. Sign in to the admin center as a global admin or SharePoint admin.

If you get a message that you don't have permission to access the admin center, then you don't have administrator permissions in your organization.

  1. In the left pane, select Admin centers > SharePoint. (You might need to select Show all to see the list of admin centers.)

  2. If the classic SharePoint admin center appears, select Open it now at the top of the page to open the new SharePoint admin center.

  3. In the left pane, select More features.

  4. Under User profiles, select Open.

  5. Under People, select Manage User Profiles.

  6. Enter the user's name and select Find.

  7. Right-click the user, and then choose Manage site collection owners.

  8. Remove the person who no longer needs access to the user's data, and then select OK.

Access the Outlook data of a former user

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, select File.

    This is what the ribbon looks like in Outlook 2016.

  3. Select Open & Export > Import/Export.

    Import/Export command in the Backstage view

  4. Select Export to a file, and then select Next.

    Export to a file option in the Import and Export Wizard

  5. Select Outlook Data File (.pst), and then select Next.

  6. Select the account you want to export by selecting the name or email address, such as Mailbox - Anne Weiler or anne@contoso.com. 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.

    Note

    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. Select Next.

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

    Note

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

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

  • 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 select OK. In the Outlook Data File Password dialog box, type the password, and then select OK.

  • 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 select OK.

See how to Export or backup email, contacts, and calendar to an Outlook .pst file in Outlook 2010.

Give another user access to a former user's email

To give access to 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, go to File > Open & Export > Import/Export.

    This starts the Import and Export Wizard.

  2. Select Import from another program or file, and then select Next.

    Import and Export Wizard

  3. Select Outlook Data File (.pst), and select Next.

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

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

  6. Select Next.

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

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

  9. Select 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. Then, in the navigation pane, drag the items from Outlook Data File folders to your existing Outlook folders.

Remove a former employee from Office 365

Add and remove admins on a OneDrive account

Restore a deleted OneDrive

OneDrive retention and deletion