Microsoft have just announced a major change to their data deletion policy for Office 365 email. The bottom line is that from now on, you can expect your emails to remain forever - unless you've set your own deletion policy, that is.
Until now, any email or calendar invite you hit delete on has been moved to your deleted items folder, and then will have been permanently deleted by Exchange Online automatically after 30 days. This has effectively been a 30 day get-out clause for realising that you accidentally nudged the delete key, or that the email is actually really important and you need to keep it. Until now, if you've ever called your IT support services frantically trying to retrieve an accidentally-deleted email from more than 30 days ago, you've been out of luck.
Microsoft's new policy, announced online on 20th February, aims to protect users against exactly this kind of accidental loss. Essentially, the default action will now be to keep all emails forever. This will apply to anyone that hasn't already set up their own custom messaging records management (MRM) policy. However, by defining a new MRM, administrators can easily override the new never-delete policy.
This change could benefit business users of Exchange Online by making it easier to comply with data protection and freedom of information laws in the UK, and with similar legislation around the world. It's possible that the complications and requirements of the many different data laws in various jurisdictions is - at least in part - what has promoted Microsoft to make this change.
Businesses operating in the public sector in the UK, along with those that process personal information, will generally have their own data retention policies to ensure that they comply with the Data Protection Act, Freedom of Information Act and other regulations. By ensuring that such companies have full control over all permanent deletion of email, Microsoft are helping them to effectively enforce their local data retention policies and stay on the right side of the law. Of course, it also increases the chances that NSIS Systems IT support can find that lost email for you.
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