How Long Does Office 365 Keep Deleted Emails with The Help of Retention Policy?

Written By Mohit Jha
Anuraag Singh
Approved By Anuraag Singh
Published On May 30th, 2024
Reading Time 6 Minutes Reading

Ever wonder how long Office 365 keeps deleted emails? Understanding this aspect is crucial for safeguarding your data and potentially saving costs. Dive into this comprehensive guide to explore the intricacies of deleted email management in Office 365, including insights into retention policies.

Table of Content

With a growing number of organizations facing challenges related to the complexity and sheer volume of data, data loss or deletion within MS Office 365 has become a common issue. Microsoft Office 365 keeps data items even after accidental or intentional deletion. However, Office 365 mailboxes are susceptible to data loss due to anything from simple misclicks to more complex network breaches.

This leads to several questions, such as:

What happens to mailboxes deleted from Office 365?, How long does Office 365 keep emails? What retention policies does Microsoft Office 365 offer? Retention Policies That Can Reappear Office 365 Deleted Emails

This post aims to provide answers to these queries.

How Long Does Office 365 Keep Deleted Emails?

Recently, Microsoft made a change under the Office 365 banner, allowing users to retain deleted items for an indefinite period. This change in Office 365 hosting also provides the ability to configure the default MRM (Messaging Records Management) deleted items retention policy.

This setting empowers users to control the duration for which Office 365 retains emails in the “Deleted Items” folder. Consequently, MS Office 365 users now can extend their retention period from the standard 30 days to 24,855 days, similar to On-Premises Exchange Administrators.

What Happens After Deletion of Office 365 Emails?

Previously, when messages were deleted from an Office 365 account, they were moved to the Deleted Items folder. Users were given the option to either retain emails in this folder or set Outlook Web Apps (OWA) to empty the folder upon logging out. Messages stayed in the Deleted Items folder or were marked as deleted until manually removed. Subsequently, they were transferred to the Hidden Deleted Items folder.

However, within the following 30 days, it was still possible to recover lost or deleted emails from this folder. After this period, the files were permanently deleted and irretrievable.

Hidden Deleted Folder

Automatically Emptying Deleted Items Folder Upon Logout

If you want to empty the Deleted Items Folder automatically every time you log out, then you need to enable the automatic emptying option by following these steps:

  1. In Outlook Web Apps, select Settings icon >> Options >> Mail >> Message options.
  2. After that, click on the checkbox next to Empty the Deleted Items folder when I sign out.

Retention Policies That Can Reappear Office 365 Deleted Emails

Given the increased reliance on cloud services for data storage, understanding how long Office 365 retains emails is crucial. Microsoft provides a Retention policy feature, enabling Office 365 users to manage the duration for which a message is retained in a folder.

  • Default Retention Policy

    Every Microsoft Office 365 account has predefined retention tags for folders or items such as Inbox, Deleted Items, Sent Items, Drafts, and Junk Email folders. These retention tags cannot be modified by users. Current retention options for deleted items recovery include:

    Managing Retention policy: Outlook Web Apps (OWA) allows users to view previously created policies. The default setting for retention time duration for all folders and messages is “Never Delete.”

  • Manage Retention policy
    Here, you can only manage previously created policies. For this, Outlook Web Apps (OWA) allows you to view the retention policies that are created by the Office 365 administration. The retention time duration setting for all folders and messages has been set to Never Delete by default.

Retention policies can be managed by following these steps:

  1. First of all, sign in to the Outlook on the Web account.
  2. Then, select the Outlook option from the top of the page.
  3. Now, click on the Settings icon >> Options >> Mail >> Retention policies.
  • Create Retention Policy
    You can assign the retention policy to an Office 365 message or folder according to your requirements. For this, perform the following steps:
  1. First, sign in to the Outlook Web Apps account.
  2. Then, select the Outlook or Mail option and go to the folder pane.
  3. After that, select the Assign policy option otherwise choose Use parent folder policy.

Key Concepts that Help Office 365 to Keep Deleted Emails

  • Every Office 365 mailbox is assigned a Retention Policy.
  • The Default Retention Policy includes a tag that archives data items after two years.
  • When applied to Office 365 mailboxes, a Retention Policy also affects the online archive mailbox.
  • Office 365’s retention time duration operates as a scheduled task running for seven days. Emails can be retained up to 7 days past the expiry duration.
  • Mailboxes smaller than 10 MB are not processed by the scheduled task unless the task is manually initiated.

What Else Do You Need to Know?

Despite Office 365’s super flexible retention policies, data loss or accidental data deletion within Office 365 remains a significant concern for users and organizations. Office 365’s retention policies don’t ensure complete and swift recovery of deleted or lost data.

Furthermore, these policies differ for each application within the cloud platform. Creating a backup of Office 365 data items using tools like  SysTools Office 365 Backup & Restore becomes crucial as it provides the sole option for data retrieval after the retention period ends.

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How Does the Tool Work to Download Office 365 Emails?

  • Step 1. Download, install, and run the software.
  • Step 2. Choose Office 365 and Outlook as platforms.
  • Step 3. Enable required workload and set date filter.
  • Step 4. Validate source credentials and set destination.
  • Step 5. Choose user accounts and hit the start button.

Frequently Asked Queries

Q1. If I delete an email where does Office 365 keep it?

After you delete an email message from your Office 365 account it will be directly moved to Deleted Item folder. After that either you can keep the email in there until you delete it by yourself or you can set it to clear the folder whenever you log out.

Q2. Can I retrieve an email that has been removed from the Deleted Item folder?

Yes, after you remove the email from the Deleted Item folder that will automatically move to a Hidden Deleted Item folder. Within the next 30 days, you can retrieve your deleted data after that, the data will get permanently deleted and you can’t retrieve it back.

Q3. How to empty deleted item folders automatically?

You can follow these steps to empty the Deleted Item folder automatically whenever you log out of Office 365. Go to OWA (Outlook Web Access) > Settings > Options > Mail > Message option > check the option Empty the Deleted Items folder when I signed out.

Q4. Are all mailboxes assigned with a retention policy?
Yes, Office 365 mailboxes are assigned a retention policy. However, mailboxes smaller than 10 MB won’t have the retention policy applied unless the task is manually run.

By Mohit Jha

Mohit is a writer, researcher, and editor. Cyber ​​security and digital forensics are the two subjects that keep Mohit out of his seat. In addition, he hopes that the well-researched and thought-out articles he finds will help people learn.