Product Navigation

Maintain Office 365 Recoverable Items Folder Retention


Office 365 offers some features of protection against the losing precious data items. It protects users from accidental or malicious deletion of data items by using the recoverable items folder. Sometimes, users have permanently deleted an item from their mailbox by pressing shift+delete. After deleting an item from the deleted items folder, the item is moved into a hidden folder, which is called recoverable data items for a period of time. But, by default, this period of time is only 14 days. It can be extended up to maximum 30 days after that the data is permanently lost unless the mailbox is under in-place hold. So, it is required to configure Office 365 recoverable items folder retention.

Some Terminology of Office 365 Recoverable Items Folder Retention

  • Delete – This terminology describes an item, which is deleted from any folder & placed into the default deleted items folder.
  • Soft Delete – It describes an item, which is deleted from the default deleted items folder and placed into the recoverable items folder. Soft delete also describes an item, when an Outlook user deletes a data item by pressing Shift+Delete. It bypasses the deleted items folders & saves the data item directly into the recoverable items folder.
  • Hard Delete – This hard delete terminology represents an item, which is marked to be cleared from the mailbox database. This is also famed as a term store hard delete.

  • Now lets learn how Office 365 recoverable items folder retention is done.

Know About the Recoverable Items Folder

Every mailbox is divided into two sub-trees. First is the interpersonal messaging (IPM) sub-tree, which contains the normal and visible folders like inbox, sent items, calendars, etc & the second one is non-interpersonal messaging (non-IPM) sub-tree, which contains internal data, preferences, and other operational data of the mailbox. The recoverable items folder is inside the non-interpersonal messaging sub-tree of each mailbox. This sub-tree is not visible to users using Outlook, Outlook on the web, or other email services.
Office 365 recoverable items folder retention contains the following sub-folders:

  • Deletions
  • Versions
  • Purges
  • Audits
  • Discovery Holds
  • Calendar Logging

Process to Configure Deleted Item Retention For a Mailbox

Before performing this procedure, first, you need to be assigned permissions. Then, Use Office 365 admin center to configure the deleted item retention for a mailbox.

  1. First of all, Navigate to the Recipients >> Mailboxes
  2. After that, from the list view, select a mailbox, and then click on Edit icon
  3. Now, on the mailbox property page, click on the Mailbox usage, then click on More options, and select one of the following:
    • Use the default retention settings from the mailbox database-Use the deleted item retention setting that is configured for the mailbox database.
    • Customize the settings for this mailbox -Configure deleted item retention settings for the mailbox.
    • Keep deleted items: This shows the length of time that deleted items are retained before they are permanently deleted & it cannot be recovered by the users. When the mailbox is created, this time limit is based on the deleted data items retention settings, which is configured for the mailbox database. A mailbox database is by default configured to contain deleted items for only 14 days. The time range for this property is 0 to 24855 days to access recoverable items folder.
    • Do not delete items permanently until the database is backed up -It allows to prevent mailboxes & email messages from being deleted until after the mailbox database on which the mailbox items is located has been backed up.

Third-Party Tool for Office 365 Recoverable Items Folder Retention

The above mentioned manual method has some limitations that it can only recover data items only for short period of time. But, when a user wants to retain it for further use. Then, they have to change these data items into another format. But, manually it is not possible to make email retention in Office 365. Therefore, it is advised to take help from a third-party solution. Thus Office 365 Export tool is the best approach to overcome the limitations of the manual method. It has the facility to convert entire mailboxes data items such as emails, contacts, calendars, tasks etc. from Office 365 to PST, MSG and EML format. It also supports multiple naming convention options. The tool has an option to apply date filter to export selective items from Office 365. It is also capable to work with latest versions of Windows operating system to access recoverable items folder Office 365.


After all these discussions, it is found that Office 365 has some protection features, which help to recoverable items folder retention policy activated. But, these retention is only for short period of time. So, if a user needs to keep it for long time, then they can use a commercial solution to Office 365 recoverable items folder retention. This solution is able to export Office 365 data items into another format and it can be further use. We hope now you question of How do i set email retention policies in Office 365” would be solved.