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Setup Archive Policy in Office 365: A Comprehensive Setup Guide

Published By Aldrich Calvin
Anuraag Singh
Approved By Anuraag Singh
Published On October 27th, 2023

Summary: Administrators have to setup archive policy in Office 365, but it can be a little bit tricky. On top of that, it is challenging for organizations to store large volumes of data. In addition, if you don’t have proper knowledge for the management of data, there are several consequences like data loss that you face during the task. So, let’s start the write-up with an overview of the archive policy.

Table of Contents

Overview of Setup Archive Policy in Office 365

If you are an admin of your organization, it is your duty to manage a mailbox for users. There is a need to ensure strict adherence to your organization’s retention policies. As we know for the management of mailboxes, M365 provides several tools which include archiving and deletion policies. 

So, there is one tool which is Messaging Retention Management, which helps to empower admin to customize retention guidelines for their messages. Taking advantage of MRM policies, an admin can make the procedure smooth by transferring the emails from users’ mailboxes to an archive folder. Moreover, configuring MRM policies can be a complex task.

If you don’t want any type of complications, then read this entire blog for the most reliable solutions.

Improving Office 365 Mailbox Performance

If you searching for a solution for the O365 mailbox reaching its maximum capacity, we are here to help. So, in this situation, you can clean up your mailbox thoroughly by deleting unnecessary emails or you can transfer files to the archive folders.

Also read: Create an Admin Account in Office 365

Steps to Setup Archive Policy in Office 365

Office 365 mailbox policies are used to automate actions in the O365 mailbox, such as transferring emails to the archive folder. In addition, if you need to set up these policies, it requires global administrator access to the Microsoft Purview Portal. Without access, you can’t perform the task. So, for the execution of the procedure admin needs to verify that every user has an active archive mailbox. 

Here are steps to setup Office 365 archive policy and deletion policy:

Step 1: Activate Archive Mailboxes for Your User Accounts

In the Exchange Admin Center, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to Recipients and select Mailboxes.
  2. Pick the user(s) you wish to enable the archive mailbox for.
  3. In the pop-up pane, head to Others, and click on Manage Mailbox Archive within the Mailbox Archive section.
  4. Toggle on the Mailbox archive option, and then click Save.
  5. It might take some time for the archive mailbox to be created, but once it’s ready, the Archive status column for the user will show ‘Active’.”

Step 2: Generate New Retention Tags for Your Policy Settings

Next, we’ll craft the two special retention tags for archiving and deleting Office 365 mailbox items. To do this, you’ll work within the Microsoft Purview compliance portal.

Once you’re logged in and within the compliance portal, follow these steps:

  1. Click on Solutions.
  2. Go to Data lifecycle management.
  3. Choose Exchange (legacy).
  4. Find your way to MRM Retention tags.

From there, to setup archive policy in Office 365 proceed with the following:

To establish your Office 365 archive policy tag and shift items to the archive mailbox after a set timeframe (typically three years, but it varies based on your organization’s retention policies):

  1. Click on + New tag.
  2. Provide a name for your retention tag on the ‘Name your tag’ page and add a description.
  3. In the ‘Define how the tag will be applied’ section:
    • Choose ‘Automatically to entire mailbox’ (the default setting).
    • Specify the number of days items should age before moving to the archive mailbox.
    • Select ‘Retention action: Move items to archive.’
    • Click ‘Next,’ review your settings, and then hit ‘Submit.

Now, let’s focus on the deletion policies. To craft a custom retention policy tag for your Deleted Items folder, ensuring that specific items are automatically deleted after a designated period:

  1. Click on + New tag.
  2. Name your retention tag on the ‘Name your tag’ page and provide a description.
  3. On the ‘Define how the tag will be applied’ page, select ‘Automatically to the default folder.’
  4. Under ‘Apply tag to this folder,’ choose ‘Deleted items.’
  5. Move on to the ‘Define retention settings’ page.
  6. Specify the number of days items should age before deletion.
  7. Select ‘Retention Action: Delete and allow recovery.’
  8. Click ‘Next,’ review your settings, and then click ‘Submit.’

Step 3: Establish Your New Retention Policy to Setup Archive Policy in Office 365

Now, you’ll need to create a new policy and incorporate the recently crafted retention tags. This process involves accessing the Microsoft Purview compliance portal:

  1. Navigate to Data lifecycle management, then proceed to Exchange (legacy), and locate MRM Retention policies.
  2. Choose ‘New policy.’
  3. In the ‘Name’ box, give your new retention policy a name.
  4. Click on ‘+ Add tag,’ and include your two new retention policies, then click ‘Add.’
  5. Return to the ‘Configure your policy’ page, select ‘Next,’ review the settings, and finally, click ‘Submit.’
  6. With your new Office 365 (archive and deletion) retention policy equipped with custom retention tags, the next step is to apply this policy to your mailboxes for automatic archiving and deletion of emails and their content.

Step 4. Substitute Your Default Policy with Your Newly Established Retention Policy

Each mailbox can accommodate only a single MRM policy. To setup archive policy in Office 365, you should replace your default archive policy (or retention policy) in Office 365 with the one you’ve recently established. Follow these steps in the new Exchange Admin center:

  1. Navigate to Recipients and pick Mailboxes.
  2. Mark all mailboxes by selecting the checkbox next to the Display name.
  3. Click on Mailbox policies, then opt for the retention policy you’ve just created under Retention Policy.
  4. Click Save, and to verify this action:
  5. On the Mailboxes page, select a mailbox.
  6. Opt for Mailbox within the mailbox properties page of the chosen user.

Method 2. Exchange Online PowerShell cmdlet to Setup Archive Policy in Office 365

  • Launch Windows PowerShell on your local system with administrator privileges. Once it’s open, execute the provided command.
$UserCredential = Get-Credential
  • Next, a dialog box titled ‘Windows PowerShell Credential Request’ will appear. Enter your Office 365 global admin account username and password, then click the OK button.
  • Then, Start the following command:
Session = New-PSSession –ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange –ConnectionUri https://outlook.office365.com/powershell-liveid/ -Credential $UserCredential –Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection

After that, run this command:

Import-PSSession $Session
  • To confirm the connection to Exchange Online, execute the following command to retrieve all mailboxes associated with your specified Office 365 account:

Get-mailbox -resultsize unlimited
  • Lastly, execute this command to finalize the procedure:
$Mailboxes.Identity | Start-ManagedFolderAssistant

Additional resources: How Long Does Office 365 Keep Deleted Emails

Secure Your Office 365 Data with Specialized Software

As we saw above to setup archive policy in Office 365, but at the same time we need a robust backup solution to secure the data. So, to back up the data of M365, you can use an automated approach. In addition, there are many professional tools but apart from those, there is one out-of-the-box software which is SysTools’ Highly dependable Office 365 Backup & Restore Software.

Furthermore, using this approach is necessary to secure all critical data. The tool supports backup data in batch and includes attachments and it maintains the hierarchy of mail folders. On top of that, it also supports a date filter option to back up the specific data which seamless the user experience. 

Here are steps of the above-mentioned tool:

Step 1. Download and launch the software.

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Step 2. Select “Office 365” as a source platform and “Outlook” as a destination platform.

Step 3. Select the categories that you want to back up from Office 365 under the Workload selection.

Step 4. You can perform the date-based selective backup of the mailbox data using the Date-Range Filter option. Click on Next.

Step 5. Then, Log in to your Office 365 account with the necessary administrative credentials.

Step 6. After validating, the permissions will be granted to the source user. Click on Next.

Step 7. Browse the backup folder path to set the destination where the PST file will be saved.

Step 8. Validate the correct permissions and click “Next”.

Step 9. Various methods, like Fetch Users, Import Users, and Download template, facilitate the addition of users for processing.

Step 10. Lastly, Click on the Start Backup button from the ribbon bar to start the backup process.

Bring It All Together

Setup Archive Policy in Office 365 can be a tedious task for the administrator. So, in this comprehensive article, we learned all credible solutions to minimize the workload for an admin. We also covered how can we enhance the performance of Office 365 mailboxes and ensure a robust backup of the Office 365 data. Additionally, it is crucial to invest in a professional Office 365 Backup and Restore solution.