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How Long Does Office 365 Keep Deleted Emails: Via a Guide

Published By Aldrich Calvin
Anuraag Singh
Approved By Anuraag Singh
Published On May 22nd, 2024

Nowadays, there is a widespread query among users which is how long does Office 365 keep deleted emails. Well, if you're among the users who arrived here while seeking a solution to the same query. Then, don’t worry, this post is designed specifically for you. Within this blog, we cover all reliable techniques for the same question. 

Furthermore, we will discuss the out-of-the-box automated software, that can back up your data and ensure your data continuity. Additionally, if we talk about the data that is kept in M365 will remain until intentionally or accidentally deleted. Office 365 email accounts are at risk because they can lose data due to mistakes made by users or security breaches. 

So, we will learn about all the answers related to this question “How long does Office 365 keep deleted emails?

How Long Does Office 365 Keep Deleted Emails Within its Retention Period?

Microsoft recently updated Office 365’s Exchange Server hosting which allows users to retain deleted items indefinitely and set the default retention period. With this change, Office 365 users have the same option as On-premises Exchange Administrators to extend retention time from 30 to 24,855 days. It also provides users with the ability to configure the default MRM (Messaging Record Management) deleted items retention policy. This helps users control the time for which Office 365 retains emails in the “Deleted” folder. 

What’s the Outcome After Deleting Office 365 Emails?

Previously, when you deleted emails in Office 365, they went to the Deleted Items folder. Now, you can choose to keep them there or have Outlook Web Apps (OWA) empty them when you log out. Emails stay in Deleted Items until you delete them, then move to the Hidden Deleted Items folder. 

You can recover them from there within 30 days. After 30 days, they’re permanently deleted and can’t be recovered. However, there are important things that we need to make note of. If a mailbox is smaller than 10 MB, it won’t be included in the scheduled task. You need to apply the retention policy manually. Therefore, in the next part of the phase, we will learn to set deleted items folder to automatically empty in the context of how long does Office 365 keep deleted emails.

Setting the Deleted Items Folder to Automatically Empty?

To manage your personal Microsoft 365 account retention policy, log in to the web-based Outlook account:

  1. Select Settings icon > Settings > Mail > Message options in Outlook Web Apps.
  2. Then, when signing out, select the option to Empty the Deleted Items folder.

Why Recycle Bin is Not a Proper Backup Solution?

As we know the Deleted Items folder is a temporary destination, and it is used to store recently deleted data. It is there to help you get back your discarded data which you accidentally deleted, but only for about 30 days. If you don’t empty it during that time, you can get your deleted files back, like emails.

In the context of how long does Office 365 keep deleted emails. Additionally, the recycle bin is not a practical technique as there are a couple of reasons for that. First, the Recycle Bin is only temporary. Second, it can’t save all your data. In simple terms, your discarded data whether by accident or on purpose, won’t always be there to get back. 

Apply the Email Retention Policy in Office 365

With your Office 365 Administrator credentials, follow these steps to establish a retention policy:

  1. First, Go to the menu and select the Admin option.
  2. From the Report Category, Select the Security and Compliance option. 
  3. Then, From the Drop-Down Menu, Select Exchange Admin Center.
  4. After that, Go to compliance management, pick retention policies, and then click the () option.
  5. Then, Give the policy a name and use the () option to add tags.
  6. Using the Add button, you can now select several retention tags and then click the Save button.
  7. Lastly, After completing the preceding steps, Create a new retention policy.

Retrieve Office 365 Deleted Emails Using Retention policy

Understanding how long Office 365 retains emails is very important for users due to increase in use of  cloud services for data storage. Users can mange the time period in which they can retrieve their messages using the retention policies given by Microsoft.

  • Default retention policy

Every account has a retention tag given to it by default and users cannot modify these tags. Current option to recover items include:

  • Manage retention policy:

Here you can only manage the retention policy that users made previously. Outlook Web Apps (OWA) allows users to view the retention policies set up by the administrators. The default setting for the retention period of files and other data has been set to “Never Delete” by default.

You can manage the retention policies by following the steps given below:

  1. Sign in to Outlook web account.
  2. Select the Outlook option from the top.
  3. Choose settings > Options > Mail > Retention Policies.
  • Retention Policy Creation:

Users can assign Office 365 messages and folders certain retention policies according to their requirements. Follow the steps given below:

  1. Sign in to Outlook Web Apps Account.
  2. Select the Outlook or Mail option.
  3. Go to the Folder option.
  4. Select the Assign Policy option or choose the Use Parent Folder Policy.

Key Concepts

  1. A retention Policy is given to every Office 365 mailbox.
  2. The default retention policy archives data after 2 years.
  3. Retention policy also affects the Online Archive mailbox when is done to Office 365 mailbox.
  4. Users can retrieve their emails for up to seven days past their expiry duration.
  5. Mailboxes smaller than 10mb are not processed by scheduled tasks unless it is done manually.

Wrapping Up

In this comprehensive article, we found all reliable solutions for the query of how long does Office 365 keep deleted emails. Moreover, we learned about the retention policies and how long O365 keeps the deleted emails. Within this write-up, we also cover an alternative method to back up the data efficiently.


  • When I delete an email, where can I find it? 

When you delete an email from your account, it will move directly to the Deleted items folder. After that, you can either keep it in the folder, or clear the folder manually. You can also set it to automatically clear up when you log out of your account.

  • Can I get back an email that has removed from the deleted folder? 

After you remove the emails from the deleted items folder, you can still get back your emails within the next 30 days as it moves to a hidden deleted items folder. .

  • Do all mailboxes come with a retention policy?

Yes, all mailboxes in Office 365 have a retention policy. However, emails that are lesser than 10mb in size do not have retention policy applied to them. The user needs to manually enable the policy.