Enable archive mailboxes in the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center

Archiving in Office 365 (called In-Place Archiving) provides users with additional mailbox storage space. Archive mailboxes also provide an alternate storage location in which to store historical messaging data. In-Place Archiving also allows you to meet your organization’s message retention, eDiscovery, and hold requirements. You can use your organization’s mailbox retention policy to move mailbox content to users’ archive mailbox. Exchange Search and In-Place eDiscovery search a user’s archive mailbox in addition to the user’s primary mailbox. And, when you place a hold on a user's messages in the archive mailbox are also placed on hold.

When their archive mailbox is enabled, users can store messages in their archive mailbox (also called an In-Place Archive). Users can access their archive mailboxes by using Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Web App. Using either of these client applications, users can view messages in their archive mailbox and move or copy messages between their primary mailbox and their archive mailbox. Users can also recover deleted items from the Recoverable Items folder in their archive mailbox by using the Recover Deleted Items tool. And when archive mailboxes are enabled, your organization can take advantage of the default retention policy (in Microsoft’s messaging records management technology) that is automatically assigned to every mailbox. When an archive mailbox is enabled, the default retention policy automatically 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 more information about using archive mailboxes, see:

Enable an archive mailbox

  1. Go to https://protection.office.com.

  2. Sign in to Office 365 using your work or school account.

  3. In the left pane of the Security & Compliance Center, click Data governance > Archive.

    The Archive page is displayed. The Archive mailbox column indicates whether an archive mailbox is enabled or disabled for each user.

  4. In the list of mailboxes, select the user that you want to enable the archive mailbox for.

    In the details pane, click Enable.

    Important: A warning is displayed saying that if you enable the archive mailbox, items in the user’s mailbox that are older than the archiving policy assigned to the mailbox will be moved to the new archive mailbox. As previously explained, the default archive policy that is part of the retention policy assigned to Exchange Online mailboxes moves items to the archive mailbox two years after the date the item was delivered to the mailbox or created by the user.

  5. Click Yes to enable the archive mailbox.

    It might take a few moments to create the archive mailbox. When it’s created, Archive mailbox: enabled is displayed in the details pane for the selected user. You might have to click Refresh Refresh icon to update the information in the details pane.

Tip: You can also bulk-enable archive mailboxes by selecting multiple users with disabled archive mailboxes (use the Shift or Ctrl keys). After selecting multiple mailboxes, click Enable in the details pane.

Disable an archive mailbox

You can also use the Archive mailboxes page to disable a user’s archive mailbox. After you disable an 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.

As previously explained, the default archive policy assigned to users’ mailboxes moves items to the archive mailbox two years after the date the item is delivered. If you disable a user’s archive mailbox, no action will be taken on mailbox items and they will remain in the user’s primary mailbox.

  1. Go to https://protection.office.com.

  2. Sign in to Office 365 using your work or school account.

  3. In the left pane of the Security & Compliance Center, click Data governance > Archive.

    The Archive page is displayed. The Archive mailbox column indicates whether an archive mailbox is enabled or disabled for each user.

  4. In the list of mailboxes, select the user that you want to disable the archive mailbox for.

    In the details pane, click Disable.

    A warning message is displayed saying that you'll have 30 days to re-enable the archive mailbox, and that after 30 days, all information in the archive will be permanently deleted.

  5. Click Yes to disable the archive mailbox.

    It might take a few moments to disable the archive mailbox. When it’s disabled, Archive mailbox: disabled is displayed in the details pane for the selected user. You might have to click Refresh Refresh icon to update the information in the details pane.

Tip: You can also bulk-disable archive mailboxes by selecting multiple users with enabled archive mailboxes (use the Shift or Ctrl keys). After selecting multiple mailboxes, click Disable in the details pane.

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