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Exchange Online Deleted Items Retention Workaround

So, we all have that person, or should I say people, in our organization that use deleted items as a means to actually organize email. Usually, it is because they don't want to organize it. They just delete it and figure they can find it later. This amazing irony of deleting something, then using it as a search folder is somewhat impaired by Exchange Online in Office365. Microsoft's policy for deleted items retention is 30 days which means your favorite deleted items organizer will close Outlook one day and lose their primary means for searching email.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, there is a workaround for this called Litigation Hold in Exchange Online. This accidental feature design for legal keeps all mail retained permanently, and allows deleted items to be stored indefinetely. The challenge is whether or not you really want to do this. Or do you want to take the opportunity to force good behaviors? And the answer is that you don't have a choice because it's the CEO or CIO who is doing it, and they dictate the business rules while we as IT Services cannot. We find ways to make it work.

Before you begin   To learn how to install and configure Windows PowerShell and connect to the service, see Use Windows PowerShell in Exchange Online.

Run the following command to configure the litigation-hold duration for a mailbox that’s already on litigation hold.

Set-Mailbox <identity> -LitigationHoldDuration <duration, in days>

Example   The following command sets the duration of the litigation hold on Ann Beebe’s mailbox to one year.

Set-Mailbox "Ann Beebe" -LitigationHoldDuration 365

Run the following command to put a mailbox on litigation hold and set the litigation-hold duration.

Set-Mailbox <identity> -LitigationHoldEnabled $true -LitigationHoldDuration <duration, in days>

Example   The following command puts Pilar Pinilla’s mailbox on litigation hold, and sets the litigation-hold duration for 7 years.

Set-Mailbox "Pilar Pinilla" -LitigationHoldEnabled $true -LitigationHoldDuration 2555

Note   You have to use the IncludeLitigationHoldDuration parameter with the Get-Mailbox cmdlet to view the value of the litigation-hold duration. For example, run the following command to display all litigation-hold settings for Pilar Pinilla.

Get-Mailbox "Pilar Pinilla" -IncludeLitigationHoldDuration | fl Litigation*

After this you will get a pop-up box with two options: one is a note that you can send to the mailbox owner telling them the details of being on litigation hold, in this case because you need to keep all deleted email indefinetely. Then, a URL if you want to point them to a policy online. As you'll notice, the mailbox is in pending. It will take up to 60 minutes to take effect in Exchange Online.

I hope this was helpful. As always, more posts to come!

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