Configuring Office 365 Archiving Policy

Each mail-enabled Microsoft 365 user with the correct license can use the Online Archive (also known as an In-Place Archive or Exchange Online Archive) mailbox feature. An In-Place Archive is a special type of mailbox associated with a user’s mailbox and is available in both Outlook and Outlook on the web. Users can use the archive mailboxes along with their primary mailboxes. If your mailbox has become too large and you cannot receive or send emails, you can configure automatic archiving in an In-Place archive.

Archive Policies in Microsoft 365 allow you to define rules for when your email items will automatically move from your personal mailbox to the online archive.

Moving items to the Online Archive reduces the size of the user mailbox OST file on a local drive. However, you will only be able to access the data in the archive with an online internet connection. Also, when searching in a mailbox, search result from the archive mailbox is not displayed in Outlook.

The maximum archive mailbox size depends on your license:

  • With Microsoft 365 Business Basic, Standard, and E1 base licenses, the archive mailbox size is limited to 50 GB;
  • Online Archive of 1.5 TB is available with Microsoft 365 Business Premium, E3, and E5 licenses.

By default, Online Archive is enabled for all Microsoft 365 users. You can enable or disable online archive through the Exchange Admin Center: Recipients > Mailboxes > User > go to the Others tab and click Manage mailbox archive.

office 365 archiving policy

Here you can enable or disable Exchange Online Archiving and see archive mailbox usage statistics.

o365 archive policy

You can also enable Online Archive using PowerShell:

Enable-Mailbox -Identity -Archive

Once Online Archive is enabled, a separate mailbox named InPlace Archive your_username will appear in Outlook (you may need to restart your Outlook desktop client).

create archive policy office 365

You can manually move any item from the primary mailbox to the archive. Select the email, right-click on it, and choose Move > In Place Archive.

office 365 auto archive policy

Hint. Note that Outlook has a separate Archive folder. It should not be confused with the Online Archive. This is a regular folder that is stored in the primary mailbox of the user.

office 365 email archive policy

Four archiving policies that can be applied to mailbox folders are available in Outlook. Select the folder to which you want to apply the archive policy to, right-click on it and select the Archive Policy your need:

  • Personal 1 year move to archive;
  • Personal 5 years move to archive;
  • Personal never move to archive;
  • Use parent folder policy.

office 365 mailbox archive policy

An Exchange Online administrator can create additional archiving policies for Outlook using the Microsoft 365 Admin Center or using PowerShell. We prefer to use the PowerShell console.

Connect to your tenant using the Exchange Online PowerShell module:

Connect-ExchangeOnline -UserPrincipalName

Get a complete list of online archiving policies:

Get-RetentionPolicyTag | where {$_.RetentionAction -eq 'MoveToArchive'}

To create a new archiving policy that automatically moves items older than 3 months to the In-Place archive, use the following command:

New-RetentionPolicyTag "adm_Personal 3 months - move to Archive" -Type Personal -RetentionEnabled $true -AgeLimitForRetention 90 -RetentionAction MoveToArchive

The user can now add this archive policy to Outlook: Settings > Mail > Retention Policies > Add a new policy.

setup archive policy in office 365


The user can then apply this policy to a folder in the primary mailbox.

Hint. In Microsoft 365, you can also configure Retention Policies which define when an email will be deleted.

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One comment

  1. Cyril, great article. I recently created an addition retention policy tag, type personal. so that a user could select this from within their outlook client. and that worked fine.
    Do you know if their is a way through power shell to view what archive policy a user has selected from within their outlook?
    I have used:
    get-mailbox ‘username’ | select retentionpolicy
    and this returned the ‘Default MRM Policy’ that can be viewed on the mailbox in EAC.
    but when a user sets the policy in their outlook, how can that be viewed, and does that take precedence over what is set on the mailbox in the EAC?


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