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An IT Admin's Guide to Exchange Online Retention Policy
In IT management for any company, data is the key asset that you need to protect and handle well. There are countless ...
In IT management for any company, data is the key asset that you need to protect and handle well. There are countless ways of manipulating or losing data, and having the right strategies in place will go a long way toward securing a business's data infrastructure. For an organization that uses Microsoft's business software, an Exchange Online retention policy is one way that you can maximize security, compliance, and storage.
- An Exchange Online retention policy is a feature of Microsoft's business software that allows an organization to set parameters for what happens to aging emails after a certain period of time.
- The retention policy is a part of a Messaging Records Management (MRM) strategy and helps in proper handling of the email communications of the organization.
- The policy allows to preserve certain categories of data for the long term and can also clear out other emails periodically.
- It can also help an organization to meet compliance standards by preserving emails that may be legally required later on.
- This feature can save time and money for an organization as employees don't need to manually manage and save every piece of information that may be relevant later on.
Understanding Exchange Online Retention Policy
Retention policies are part of a Messaging Records Management (MRM) strategy. MRM ensures proper handling of the email communications of your organization. An Exchange Online retention policy allows you to set parameters for what happens to aging emails of various kinds after a certain period of time. Exchange Online retention policies are also one aspect of handling your data compliance.
For example, if you have a great deal of financial communication occurring in your organization that may be relevant to an audit at any point, you will want to ensure that you preserve these communications on the server for at least seven years. For other kinds of data, you might set different parameters and have your server either keep or delete them after a certain amount of time.
Retention policies can also add a bit of nuance to how Exchange Online treats certain categories of information. For example, you might set a policy to delete pieces of medical data after five years, but it might also have an extra setting attached to it that tells Exchange Online to look for any particularly sensitive material and keep it, regardless of whether it's medical data.
Exchange Online does have a default retention policy that it automatically applies (called "Default MRM Policy"), but you can edit or replace the policy for any given mailbox. Keep in mind that there can only be one retention policy for each mailbox in an Exchange Online network.
The Benefits of a Retention Policy
There are many benefits of having an intentional Exchange Online retention policy for each of your organization's mailboxes. Here are a few of these benefits.
Retention policies help protect your organization from losing or accidentally deleting data that may be legally required later on. For example, if the Internal Revenue Service performs an audit of your business, inaccessible or missing financial documents can complicate the process and may result in significant fines for negligence. If a lawsuit arises over something that occurred several years ago, your business will need to pull documents and data from those prior years, and emailed communication is often relevant to such cases.
Even though email isn't the only kind of data that your organization deals with, it can have great relevance to these kinds of situations, especially when other forms of data are lost and documents and information are not accessible any other way.
Accessibility and Storage
Another reason to set up an Exchange Online retention policy is for preserving important information while clearing out useless documents that will simply take up space. The policy can ensure that Exchange Online keeps certain categories of data for the long term for later access, but at the same time, the policy can periodically and automatically clear out other emailed communications from the system, keeping things cleaner and creating storage space.
Time and Money
Finally, an Exchange Online retention policy is also a great example of automation at its best. Retention policies save your team from having to manually manage the vast amount of data they are responsible for on a daily and weekly basis. No one has time to ensure that they properly save every piece of information that may be relevant later on, and this will free up the employees of your business to focus on the things they're really there for. That kind of saved time ultimately leads to saved money for an organization.
Retention Policy Versus Archiving and Backing Up
It's important to differentiate between an Exchange Online retention policy and the policies and systems you have in place for archiving or backing up files. Exchange retention policies deal primarily with email data, and they are capable of pushing data toward either deletion or saving, depending upon what your set parameters are for that mailbox.
Archiving, on the other hand, is simply the process of identifying and storing data that is no longer in use for the long term. By nature, it deals with what needs to be saved and not deleted. Backups are also responsible for keeping data, and they are necessary for ensuring that an organization doesn't lose valuable documents, data, and applications due to unexpected errors with its devices or servers.
Because Microsoft is not legally responsible for backing up a business's data, this is important to have in place. Actively archiving is also a beneficial data management practice, but both of these aspects of data management are distinct from each other and from having a retention policy for Exchange Online.
Exchange Online Retention Policy as Part of Your IT Strategy
Having an intentional and strategic Exchange Online retention policy is one important piece of the puzzle of your organization's information technology management. There are also plenty of other strategies that you need to incorporate in order to maximize both the efficiency and security of your data storage. Contact us at Cloudficient to find out how our secure, scalable cloud migration services can help as you transform your business and its data management policies.
With unmatched next generation migration technology, Cloudficient is revolutionizing the way businesses retire legacy systems and transform their organization into the cloud. Our business constantly remains focused on client needs and creating product offerings that match them. We provide affordable services that are scalable, fast and seamless.