Archive mailboxes in Exchange Online

Exchange Online
 

Applies to: Exchange Online, Office 365

Topic Last Modified: 2017-09-29

Archive mailboxes (called an In-Place Archive in Exchange Online) help people in your Office 365 organization take control of messaging data by providing additional email storage. Using Outlook or Outlook Web App, people can view messages in their archive mailbox and move or copy messages between their primary and archive mailboxes. After the archive mailbox is enabled, the default retention that's assigned to every new mailbox created in your organization does the following:

  • Moves items that are two years or older from a user’s primary mailbox to their archive mailbox.

  • Moves items that are 14 days or older from the Recoverable Items folder in the user's primary mailbox to the Recoverable Items folder in their archive mailbox.

For instructions about how to create an archive mailbox, see Enable or disable an archive mailbox in Exchange Online. Or watch this video, which shows you how to enable an archive mailbox.

Contents

How users access their archive mailboxes

Outlook license requirements for accessing an archive mailbox

How messages are moved to the archive mailbox

Archive policies

Archive policies included in the default retention policy

Archive mailboxes and other Exchange Online features

Managing archive mailboxes

Helping users with their archive mailbox

Users can use Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Web App to view their archive mailbox, and to move or copy messages between their primary mailbox and the archive mailbox. User's can't access their archive mailbox by using Outlook or Outlook Web App on a mobile device, such as a smart phone. This is because Exchange ActiveSync doesn't provide support for archive mailboxes.

The following screenshot shows a user's primary and archive mailboxes in Outlook Web App.

Screenshot of archive mailbox in Outlook Web App

To access their archive mailbox using Outlook, users need one of the following licenses.

Outlook in Office 365 subscriptions

  • Outlook in Office 365 ProPlus

  • Outlook in Office 365 Enterprise E3

  • Outlook in Office 365 Business

  • Outlook in Office 365 Business Premium

Outlook retail licenses

  • Outlook 2016 stand-alone

  • Outlook 2013 stand-alone

Outlook volume licenses

  • Outlook 2013 stand-alone

  • Outlook 2013 included with Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2013

  • Outlook 2010 stand-alone

  • Outlook 2010 included with Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010

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There are several ways to move messages to a user's archive mailbox.

  • Move or copy messages manually   Users can manually move or copy messages from their primary mailbox to their archive mailbox. The archive mailbox appears as another mailbox in the root of their mailbox in Outlook and Outlook Web App.

  • Move messages using retention policy   A retention policy assigned to a user's mailbox is used to automatically move messages to the archive mailbox. In fact, the default retention policy that's assigned to every new mailbox created in Exchange Online automatically moves mailbox items that are 2 years old to the user's archive mailbox. Users can also use personal tags with the Move to Archive retention action (also called archive tags) to move messages to their archive mailbox.

    ImportantImportant:
    If the archive mailbox isn't enabled for a user, then no action is taken on items that are 2 years or older. Those items will remain in the user's primary mailbox. When the archive mailbox is enabled, then mailbox items 2 years and older will be automatically moved to the archive within 7 days after the archive mailbox is enabled. No action is taken on these items if the archive mailbox isn't enabled.
  • Move or copy messages using Inbox rules   Users can't create Inbox rules in Outlook and Outlook Web App to move or copy messages directly to their archive mailbox. However, they can create an inbox rule to move messages to another folder in their primary mailbox, and then assign a personal archive tag to that folder that moves those items to their archive mailbox. For more information, see Inbox rules in Outlook Web App.

  • Import messages from PST files  Users can use Outlook to import an Outlook Data File (which is called a PST file) into their archive mailbox.  Users can't use Outlook Web App to import PST files. For more information, see Import Outlook items from an Outlook Data File (.pst).

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Archive policies are retention tags that use the Move to Archive retention action. As previously explained, archive policies automatically move messages from a user's primary mailbox to their archive mailbox after a specified period.

When an archive policy is assigned to a mailbox, mailbox folder, or specific mailbox items, messages are moved to the archive mailbox after the retention period expires. Messages are moved to a folder in the archive mailbox that has the same name as the source folder in the primary mailbox. If a folder with the same name doesn't exist in the archive mailbox, it’s created when the message is moved.

To learn more about retention policies, retention tags, and the Move to Archive retention action, see Retention tags and retention policies.

As previous explained, a default retention policy, named Default MRM Policy, is automatically assigned to all new Exchange Online mailboxes when they are created. This retention policy contains a number of archive policies that move messages to a user's archive mailbox. When these archive policies are applied to messages in a mailbox where the archive mailbox is enabled, messages are moved to the archive mailbox based on the retention period defined by the tag. If the archive mailbox isn't enabled, then no action is taken on these messages.

The Default MRM Policy in Exchange Online contains the following archive policies.

 

Archive policy name Tag type What happens

Default 2 year move to archive

Default policy tag (DPT)

Messages are automatically moved to the archive mailbox after 2 years. Applies to items in the entire mailbox that don't have another retention tag applied to them.

Recoverable Items 14 days move to archive

Retention policy tag (RPT) assigned to the Recoverable Items folder

Messages are automatically moved from the Recoverable Items folder in the user's primary mailbox to the Recoverable Items folder in the archive mailbox after 14 days. Users attempting to recover or purge deleted items in the archive mailbox have to use the Recover Deleted Items feature on the archive mailbox.

Personal 1 year move to archive

Personal archive tag

When a user applies this tag, messages are moved to the archive mailbox after 1 year.

Personal 5 year move to archive

Personal archive tag

When a user applies this tag, messages are moved to the archive mailbox after 5 years.

Personal never move to archive

Personal archive tag

When a user applies this tag, messages are never moved to the archive mailbox.

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This section explains the functionality between archive mailboxes and other Exchange Online features.

  • Litigation Hold and In-Place Hold   When you put a mailbox on Litigation Hold or In-Place Hold, the hold is placed on both the primary and the archive mailbox. To learn more about holds, see In-Place Hold and Litigation Hold.

  • In-Place eDiscovery   When a discovery manager performs an In-Place eDiscovery search, users' archive mailboxes are also searched. For more information about eDiscovery, see In-Place eDiscovery.

  • Exchange Search   When a user uses Exchange Search to search for items in their mailbox, there's no difference between the primary and archive mailbox. Content in both mailboxes is indexed. When a user searches their mailbox in Outlook and Outlook Web App and selects to search All mailboxes, the search results will include messages in both their primary and archive mailbox.

  • Archiving Lync content in Exchange Online   You can archive instant messaging conversations and shared online meeting documents in the user’s primary mailbox. For details, see Archive Lync conversations and meeting content to Exchange.

In Exchange Online, you can enable or disable archive mailboxes. You can also get the mailbox statistics (such as the current size) for archive mailbox, and test the connectivity to archive mailboxes. For more information, see Enable or disable an archive mailbox in Exchange Online.

  • Enable an archive mailbox   When a new mailbox is created, the archive isn't enabled by default. You can enable the archive anytime after a mailbox is created.

  • Disable an archive mailbox   You might want to disable a user's archive mailbox for compliance-related reasons. If you disable a user's archive mailbox, you can reconnect it to the user's primary mailbox within 30 days of disabling it. In this case, the original contents of the archive mailbox are restored. After 30 days, the contents of the original archive mailbox are permanently deleted and can't be recovered. So if you re-enable the archive more than 30 days after disabling it, a new archive mailbox is created.

  • Test connectivity to an archive mailbox   In Exchange Online, you can test the connectivity to a user’s archive mailbox by using the Archive switch with the Test-MapiConnectivity cmdlet.

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Before enabling the archive mailbox for users, we recommend that you inform them about the archive policies that are applied to their mailbox and provide them with training or documentation to help them use their archive mailbox. This might include help and information about:

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