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Microsoft Improving Office 365 E-Mail Archiving

Microsoft indicated this week that it plans to smooth out its e-mail archiving process for customers using Office 365 E3 or E4 plans.

Those plans are described by Microsoft as providing "unlimited storage" for e-mails. However, some of Microsoft's customers have hit limits when trying to automatically archive "high-volume mailboxes," Microsoft explained, in its announcement. In the "coming weeks," the company plans to roll out a "new auto-expanding, highly scalable archiving" service worldwide that will do away with the issue.

Exactly when this scalable archive service will be in effect for Office 365 E3 and E4 subscribers wasn't described.

Currently, customers use an Import Service tool to automatically transfer mailbox data stored on premises to Office 365 datacenters. Sometimes, though, a large archive process requires going through Microsoft support for this task. In those cases, the archive has to be performed via "manual steps."

A footnote in this TechNet library article described the archive limit triggering a manual process at 100 GB:

A default quota of 100 GB is set on the archive mailbox, which will generally accommodate reasonable use, including the import of one user’s historical email. In the unlikely event that a user reaches this quota, a call to Office 365 support is required. Administrators can’t increase or decrease this quota. 

Microsoft also promised that its electronic discovery, auditing and retention-hold solutions will continue to work with the improved scalable archive service.

In a side note, Microsoft also explained in its announcement that it has "removed limits on the Recoverable Items store." At press time, the TechNet library article showed that the recoverable items folder is limited to "3 million" messages per folder.

In February, Microsoft announced a change in plans for how deleted Office 365 e-mails are handled. Deleted e-mails used to be recoverable for 30 days, but Microsoft pushed down a policy change that made deleted e-mails always recoverable.

Typically, IT pros would modify Office 365's "Default MRM Policy" to customize the automatic archive process. The default policy is designed to move e-mails to the archive after two years' time, unless modified by an organization, according to this TechNet article.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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