With the increase in usage of Office 365 Groups, administrators and users need a way to clean up unused groups. Expiration policies can help them remove inactive groups from the system and make things cleaner for their end users. When a group expires it is "soft-deleted" which means it can still be recovered for up to 30 days.
Administrators can specify an expiration period and any group that reaches the end of that period, and is not renewed, will be deleted. Group owners will automatically be sent an email before the expiration that allows them to renew the group for another expiration interval.
It's important to know that expiration is turned off by default. Administrators will have to enable it for their tenant if they want to use it.
Note: Group expiration is an Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) Premium feature. Your tenant will have to have a subscription to Azure AD Premium, or Azure AD Basic EDU, license in order to have this feature available. The administrator who configures the settings, and the members of the affected groups, will have to have Azure AD Premium, or Azure AD Basic EDU, licenses assigned to them. For more information see Getting started with Azure Active Directory Premium.
Set Expiration Policy
As noted above, expiry is turned off by default. An administrator will have to enable the expiration policy and set the properties for it to take effect. To enable it go to Azure Active Directory (AAD) > Users and groups> Group settings > Expiration. Here you can set the default group lifetime and specify how far in advance you want the first and second expiration notifications to go to the group owner.
The group lifetime is specified in days and can be set to 180, 365 or to a custom value that you specify. The custom value has to be at least 30 days.
If the group does not have an owner the expiration emails will go to a specified administrator.
You can set the policy for all of your groups, only selected groups or turn it off completely by selecting None. Note that currently you can't have different policies for different groups.
How Expiry Works with Retention policy
If you have setup retention policy in Security and Compliance center for groups, expiration policy works seamlessly with retention policy. When a group expires, the group’s conversations in mail box and files in the group site are retained in the retention container for the specific number of days defined in the retention policy. Users will not see the group, or its content, after expiration however.
What if a Group Expires Accidentally?
30 days before the group expires, the group owners (or the tenant administrator for groups that don't have an owner) will receive an email allowing them to easily renew the group. If they don't renew it, they'll receive another renewal email 15 days before expiration. If they still haven't renewed it, they will receive one more email notification the day before expiration. If for some reason none of the owners or admins renew the group before it expires, the Office 365 administrator can still restore the group for up to 30 days after expiration. For details see: Restore a deleted Office 365 Group.
Important: Group owners will only be notified via email, regardless of how the group was created. That means that even if the group was created via Planner, SharePoint, Teams or any other app, the expiration notifications will always come via email. It's not recommended to enable expiration on a group if your group owner doesn't have a valid email address.
This article was last updated by Ben on December 4th, 2017 as a result of your suggestions. If you found it helpful, and especially if you didn't, please use the feedback controls below to let us know how we can continue to make it better.