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Delete or Restore User Mailboxes in Exchange Online

Exchange Online
 

Applies to: Exchange Online

Topic Last Modified: 2013-03-11

You can delete Exchange Online mailboxes by deleting the corresponding Office 365 user account, removing the Exchange Online license, or by running the Remove-Mailbox cmdlet in the Shell. You can't use the EAC to delete a mailbox. When a mailbox is deleted, Exchange Online retains its contents for 30 days, by default. After 30 days, the mailbox is permanently deleted and is not recoverable.

You can recover a deleted mailbox within the retention period by using the Office 365 admin center to recover the corresponding Office 365 user account. If the mailbox was deleted by removing the Exchange Online license, it can be restored within the retention period by reassigning the license to the corresponding user account. A recovered mailbox contains all the data stored in it at the time it was deleted.

If you need to delete a mailbox, but preserve the mailbox contents indefinitely, you can enable an inactive mailbox. To do this, you have place the mailbox on In-Place Hold before you delete it. For more information, see Manage Inactive Mailboxes in Exchange Online.

noteNote:
Before an inactive mailbox can be enabled, the mailbox must be assigned an Exchange Online (Plan 2) license or have an Exchange Online Archiving subscription so that an In-Place Hold can be placed on the mailbox before it's deleted.

tipTip:
Having problems? Ask for help in the Exchange forums. Visit the forums at: Exchange Server, Exchange Online, or Exchange Online Protection.

When you delete an Office 365 user account, the corresponding Exchange Online mailbox is deleted and removed from the list of mailboxes in the EAC. After the user account is deleted, it's listed on the Deleted Users page in the Office 365 admin center. It can be recovered within 30 days after being deleted. After 30 days, the user account and mailbox are permanently deleted and not recoverable.

To delete an Office 365 user account, see Delete or restore users.

When you delete an Exchange Online mailbox using the Shell, the corresponding Office 365 user is deleted and removed from the list of users in the Office 365 admin center.

This example deletes an Exchange Online mailbox and the corresponding Office 365 user account for Walter Harp.

Remove-Mailbox -Identity "Walter Harp"

You can also delete a mailbox by removing the Exchange Online license assigned to the corresponding Office 365 user account. This method of deleting a mailbox will retain the corresponding user account so that a user can sign in to Office 365 and use other Office 365 resources. The mailbox can be recovered by reassigning an Exchange Online license to the user account within 30 days of removing the license.

To remove a license in the Office 365 admin center, see Assign or remove a license.

To verify that you've successfully deleted an Exchange Online mailbox, do one of following:

  • In the EAC, navigate to Recipients > Mailboxes. The deleted mailbox is removed from the mailbox list.
    Click Refresh Refresh Icon if the deleted mailbox is still displayed.
  • If you deleted the Office 365 user account, verify that the user account isn't listed on the Users and Groups page in the Office 365 admin center, and that it’s listed on the Deleted Users page.
  • In the Shell, run the following command to verify that the mailbox has been deleted.
    Get-Mailbox <identity>
    
    The command will return an error stating that the mailbox couldn’t be found, which verifies that the mailbox was deleted.

When you delete a mailbox, Exchange Online retains the mailbox and all its contents until the deleted mailbox retention period expires, which is 30 days. After 30 days, the mailbox is permanently deleted and can't be recovered. The method for restoring a mailbox depends on whether the mailbox was deleted by deleting the Office 365 user account or removing the Exchange Online license.

If the mailbox was deleted by deleting the corresponding Office 365 user account or by using the Remove-Mailbox cmdlet, you can restore the mailbox by restoring the user account in the Office 365 admin center.

To restore an Office 365 user account, see Delete or restore users.

If the mailbox was deleted by removing the Exchange Online license from the user account, you can restore the mailbox by reassigning an Exchange Online license to the user in the Office 365 admin center.

To assign a license to a user account in the Office 365 admin center, see Assign or remove a license.

To verify that you've successfully restored a mailbox, do one of the following:

  • In the EAC, navigate to Recipients > Mailboxes. The restored mailbox is displayed in the mailbox list.
    Click Refresh Refresh Icon if the mailbox isn't displayed at first.
  • In the Shell, run the following command to verify that the mailbox was restored.
    Get-Mailbox <identity>
    
  • If you deleted the Office 365 user account, verify that the restored user account is listed on the Users and Groups page in the Office 365 admin center.
 
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