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Change the deleted item retention period for a mailbox in Exchange Online

Exchange Online

Applies to: Exchange Online

Topic Last Modified: 2016-08-11

Items in Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Web App that are in the Recoverable Items > Deletions folder (items that have been permanently deleted) are kept there for 14 days, by default. You can change how long these items are kept, up to a maximum of 30 days. (Looking to just change how long regular deleted items are kept? See Create a Retention Policy.)

You must use the Exchange Management Shell (Powershell) to make the change. Unfortunately, there isn't currently a way to do this in the UI.

If these steps help you do what you needed to do, please let us know below! If anything's missing or we could improve the steps, send your feedback. We read all your comments and make updates regularly.

In these examples, we increase the retention period to 30 days, the maximum for Exchange Online mailboxes. But you can set the number to whatever you like, up to that limit.

Need help using Exchange Management Shell? See the steps below, or check out this article for all the details.

Example 1: Set Emily Maier's mailbox to keep deleted items for 30 days. In Exchange Management Shell, run the following command.

Set-Mailbox -Identity "Emily Maier" -RetainDeletedItemsFor 30

Example 2: Set all user mailboxes in the organization to keep deleted items for 30 days. In Exchange Management Shell, run the following command.

Get-Mailbox -ResultSize unlimited -Filter {(RecipientTypeDetails -eq 'UserMailbox')} | Set-Mailbox -RetainDeletedItemsFor 30

Need more details about using these commands? See the Exchange Management Shell Help topic Set-Mailbox.

Need to keep deleted items for longer than 30 days? Place the mailbox on In-Place Hold or Litigation Hold. Retention settings for deleted items are ignored when a mailbox is placed on hold. See In-Place Hold and Litigation Hold.

To check for one mailbox, run the following command:

Get-Mailbox <Name> | FL RetainDeletedItemsFor

Or to check for all mailboxes, run the following command:

Get-Mailbox -ResultSize unlimited -Filter {(RecipientTypeDetails -eq 'UserMailbox')} | FL Name,RetainDeletedItemsFor

These steps assume you're using Windows 10 or Windows 8 (or 8.1). (Have an earlier version of Windows? See the detailed steps.)

  1. Open the PowerShell window:

    • On your computer, type Windows PowerShell in the taskbar search box.

    • When you see the result appear, right-click it, and select Run as administrator. (Why? Because you have to run commands in an "elevated" Windows PowerShell window.)

    • When you're prompted to "let this app make changes to your PC," click Yes.

    You'll see a WindowsPower shell window with a prompt like PS C:\WINDOWS\system32>.

  2. Make sure PowerShell can run signed scripts:

    • At the prompt in the PowerShell window, run the following command:

      Set-ExecutionPolicy RemoteSigned
  3. Connect to Exchange Online with your credentials:

    • At the prompt in the PowerShell window, run the following command:

      $UserCredential = Get-Credential
    • In the Windows PowerShell Credential Request dialog box, type your Office 365 user name and password, and then click OK.

    • At the prompt in the PowerShell window, run the following command. You can use the "Copy" option to copy it from this page, then just paste it into the PowerShell window.

      $Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri -Credential $UserCredential -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection

      Note: If you are an Office 365 operated by 21Vianet customer in China, use the following value for the ConnectionUri parameter:

    • Finally, run this command:

      Import-PSSession $Session

Now you're ready to run the command to change the retention time for permanently deleted Outlook items.

  • Estimated time to complete: Assuming you've got PowerShell set up and connected to Exchange Online, this update is really quick—about 2 minutes.

  • If you want to place a mailbox on In-Place Hold and Litigation Hold so the retention limit is ignored, make sure the mailbox has an Exchange Online (Plan 2) user license.

  • You need to be assigned permissions before you can perform this procedure or procedures. To see what permissions you need, see the "Recipient Provisioning Permissions" section in the Recipients Permissions topic.

  • You can only use the Shell to perform this procedure. To learn how to use Windows PowerShell to connect to Exchange Online, see Connect to Exchange Online using remote PowerShell.

  • For information about keyboard shortcuts that may apply to the procedures in this topic, see Keyboard shortcuts in the Exchange admin center.

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

When a user permanently deletes a mailbox item (such as an email message, a contact, a calendar appointment, or a task) in Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Web App, the item is moved to the Recoverable Items folder, and into a subfolder named Deletions.

A mailbox item is deleted and moved to the Recoverable Items folder when a user does one of the following:

  • Deletes an item from the Deleted Items folder

  • Empties the Deleted Items folder

  • Permanently deletes an item by selecting it and pressing Shift+Delete

How long deleted items are kept in the Deletions folder depends on the deleted item retention period that is set for the mailbox. An Exchange Online mailbox keeps deleted items for 14 days, by default. Use the Exchange Management Shell, as shown above, to change this setting, to increase the period up to a maximum of 30 days.

Users can recover, or purge, deleted items before the retention time for a deleted item expires. To do so, they use the Recover Deleted Items feature in Outlook or Office Outlook Web App. See the following "Recover deleted items" topics: for Outlook or for Outlook Web App.

Additional help:

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