In-Place Hold of Office 365

What are you going to do if a user who has a mailbox in Office 365 left your company? Of course your are going to disable or delete the account in Active directory.

Where can you see the numbers of inactive users. By the way, Microsoft says that If a user hasn’t logged in for more than 30 days, a user is inactive for Microsoft.

ex2013 - 22

Of course, deleting user or disabling the account mean you don’t manage anything. Many government rule require keep user’s mailboxes 3, 5, 7 years after they left. So, Still there are many things we can and should do.

Here are options you can use.

Leave the mailbox in Office 365 and disable the account. The sound doesn’t good to me. Let’s keep going.

Still disable the account, change the users license minimum cost one. That is still not acceptable for me. Move on.

Move the user back to on-premises Hybrid Exchange server. I believe that this is the best solution. That’s why I am trying to convince everyone to have hybrid rather than to only cloud solution.

Although that solution is enough, there is one more solution that you can use is to get 3rd party cloud backup/archive solution.

If a user leaves the business, it is now possible to place the mailbox into In-Place Hold and then delete the user account. The mailbox will be available to eDiscovery and the mailbox license can be released back to the pool again.

What happens when we move the mailbox to the In-Place hold? It will be there until the retention day comes. After that it is safe to delete the mailbox from here.

What are the benefits of having an Inactive mailbox

Hidden from users so no longer available in the GAL

Visible in eDiscovery searches

No license required

Preserves the mailbox indefinitely

No Active Directory / Office 365 account required

Cannot send or receive email


We have got some ideas what to do. Although moving back to on-premises is easy and good solution but today I will show you how to create an inactive mailbox and how to access it

The most important thing is here to remember that when a mailbox is placed in-place hold, the content will remain secure and not changeable.

Another important thing is that Exchange Online retention policy is 30 days. If it is default then 30 days later the mailbox will be deleted.

According to information above we need a new In-place hold for. For example. 7 years. Open a PowerShell now and type this command

New-MailboxSearch “Sonat-TestPlace-Hold” –SourceMailboxes “” –InPlaceHoldEnabled $True –ItemHoldPeriod 2557

That’s it. The mailbox has been added to new In-place hold which is for 7 years and now it is safe the delete user from AD or Office 365

The mailbox is secure and it is mentioned above that the content is also secure and not accessible. Of course is accessible but not via OWA, Outlook. There is only on way to do that is in eDiscovery console from Exchange Admin Centre. You can search an item in the mailbox or export it to pst if required.

In order to run eDiscovery open a PowerShell again. I am going to search a key word Exchange 2013 between 1st and 24th July.

New-MailboxSearch “TestPlace-Search” -StartDate “1/7/2014″ -EndDate “24/7/2014″ -SourceMailboxes “Sonat-TestPlace-Hold” -TargetMailbox “Discovery Search Mailbox” -SearchQuery “Exchange 2013″ -MessageTypes Email -IncludeUnsearchableItems -LogLevel Basic


When the time has come to delete the user or anytime for manual deleting the Inactive mailbox from eDiscovery

Set-MailboxSearch “Sonat-TestPlace-Hold” –InPlaceHoldEnabled $False Remove-MailboxSearch “Sonat-TestPlace-Hold”


Stay tuned!

Sonat Yaylali

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