How To Create an Exchange Online Archiving Policy in M365

Exchange Online Archiving Policies in Microsoft 365 are a great way to manage the size and data stored within your Exchange Online mailbox. In this post we are going to discuss what an Exchange Online archiving policy is and walk through how we can create our own archiving policy in the Exchange Online admin center. 

What is an Exchange Online Archiving Policy?

An Exchange Online arching policy (also known as an retention policy) allows you to define certain rules to move emails from your primary mailbox to your Online Archive mailbox, as well as delete emails. By default when you enable Online Archiving for a mailbox in Exchange line, any emails older that 2 years will be automatically moved to the Archive mailbox. This is done by the default ‘2 years move to archive’ rule.

How do Exchange Online Archiving policies work?

There are 2 main components to implementing an archiving policy, that is; retention tags and retention policies. 

Retention Tags – Retention tags are using to apply retention settings to messages within Exchange Online. When a message is received, the retention tag is applied to that message.

Retention Policies – Retention policies are used to apply the tag to a user, groups of users or the whole organisation. This means you can set a default policy for your whole organisation, or specific policies for different members of staff.

Exchange Online Archiving policy diagram

How to create an Exchange Online archiving policy

  • Under the Solutions heading on the menu, select Data lifecycle management > Exchange (legacy).
  • Start by selecting the MRM Retention tags header then + New tag.
Exchange Online Archiving Policy New Tag
  • Enter an appropriate name and click Next.
  • Choose how the tag will be applied. You can either apply to the entire mailbox (which we will select), apply to default folders such as inbox, sent items and deleted items or create a personal tag which users can apply to individual folders themselves from within the Outlook client. Once you have chosen the application method, click Next.
Exchange Online Archiving Policy application methods
  • Now you will need to select the retention period and the retention action. Here I am going to select 365 days (1 year) and Move item to Archive. This means that once the email is 365 days old (since the received date) it will be moved to the online archive mailbox.
Exchange Online Archiving Policy retention settings
  • Then click Next and Submit. You have now created your retention tag. The next step is to create your retention policy so it can be applies to your users.
  • Now the previous Windows is closed, select the MRM Retention policies tab and click + New policy.
Exchange Online Archiving Policy New policy
  • Enter an appropriate name for your policy, select + Add tag and choose the tag you just created.
Exchange Online Archiving Policy My New policy
  • So now we have created a new retention tag that defines our retention settings and a policy we can apply to users. We must now apply the policy to our users. Start by going to the Exchange admin center:
  • From the left hand menu, select Recipients > Mailboxes.
  • Click the display name of the user you which to apply the new policy to.
  • In the pop-out window, select the Mailbox tab, then Manage mailbox policies.
Exchange Online Archiving Policy Manage policies
  • Lastly select your new policy from the drop down window, under Retention policy.
Exchange Online Archiving Policy select policy

You have now created a new Exchange Online archiving policy! Head back to our tutorials page for more >

Daniel Bradley

My name is Daniel Bradley and I work with Microsoft 365 and Azure as an Engineer and Consultant. I enjoy writing technical content for you and engaging with the community. All opinions are my own.

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