Exchange Online Gives Deleted Emails New Lease on Life

Did the boss mistakenly delete an important email? Changes to the default 30-day automatic Deleted Items policy give users more time to reclaim their emails.

deleted email

Thirty days may seem like a generous amount of time for deleted Outlook items to hang around, but it can be a crushing deadline if one of those items were the victim of an accidental press of the Delete key.

Microsoft is readying an update for Exchange Online, the company's cloud-based email, contact and calendar software, that will turn off the 30-day limit in the default Messaging Records Management (MRM) policy. After the update rolls out sometime this month, organizations can keep their Deleted Items forever, unless they specify otherwise.

"Until now deleted items were moved into the Deleted Items folder; then, they would disappear after being in that folder for 30 days," wrote the Office 365 Team in a Feb. 20 blog post. "With this update, the length of time items remain in the Deleted Items folder is extended to indefinitely or according to the duration set by your administrator." Both primary and archive mailboxes will be affected by the change.

The move allows organizations that don't stray far from Exchange Online's default setup to retrieve emails and calendar invites, which may have been deleted in error, well after the previous 30-day countdown clock starts ticking down. Naturally, administrators have full control over their MRM policies, assured Microsoft.

"If you want to keep the 30-day policy or set a custom retention period, that can be done, as well, and you don't even need to wait for the change," wrote the company's bloggers. "Also, if you have already created a custom MRM policy, (as long as it has a name other than 'Default MRM Policy'), you don't need to do anything and the change will not impact you."

The update affects both existing and new Office 365 users, according to Microsoft. Administrators that have tweaked the default MRM policy, but didn't rename it, may want to revisit their configurations.

"Modifying the properties in the Default MRM Policy alone will not exclude it from being overwritten by this change," Microsoft warned. "If you have customized your Default MRM Policy and kept the original name, the change will still apply."

The Office 365 group explained how Exchange Online will treat the default policy going forward in a FAQ. "We are instructing the system to ignore the 30-day delete tag on the Deleted Items folder if the retention policy's name is 'Default MRM Policy.' This is why changing the policy name will ensure that the tag continues to work." The tag is not being removed or deleted, added Microsoft.

Custom policies will remain unaffected. "For example, if the admin has added extra tags, modified the retention period, modified retention enabled of an existing tag, etc., the new behavior will not be enforced," stated Microsoft. Similarly, the change will have no effect on a Deleted Items folder's Move to Archive, Litigation Holds and In-Place Holds.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...