Restore an inactive mailbox - Microsoft Purview (compliance) (2023)

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An inactive mailbox (which is a type of soft-deleted mailbox) is used to retain a former employee's email after they leave your organization. If another employee takes on the job responsibilities of the departed employee or if that employee returns to your organization, there are two ways that you can make the contents of the inactive mailbox available to a user:

  • Restore an inactive mailbox If another employee takes on the job responsibilities of the departed employee, or if another user needs access to the contents of the inactive mailbox, you can restore (or merge) the contents of the inactive mailbox to an existing mailbox. You can also restore the archive from an inactive mailbox. After it's restored, the inactive mailbox is preserved and is retained as an inactive mailbox. This article describes the procedures for restoring an inactive mailbox.

  • Recover an inactive mailbox If the departed employee returns to your organization, or if a new employee is hired to take on the job responsibilities of the departed employee, you can recover the contents of the inactive mailbox. This method converts the inactive mailbox to a new mailbox that contains the contents of the inactive mailbox. After it's recovered, the inactive mailbox no longer exists. For the step-by-step procedures, see Recover an inactive mailbox in Office 365.

See the More information section in this article for more details about the differences between restoring and recovering an inactive mailbox.

Note

You can't recover or restore an inactive mailbox that's configured with an auto-expanding archive. If you need to recover data from an inactive mailbox with an auto-expanding archive, use content search to export the data from the mailbox and then import to another mailbox. For instructions, see following articles:

(Video) Inactive Mailboxes - how to deal with them

  • Content search
  • Export content search results

Tip

If you're not an E5 customer, you can try all the premium features in Microsoft Purview for free. Use the 90-day Purview solutions trial to explore how robust Purview capabilities can help your organization manage data security and compliance needs. Start now at the Microsoft Purview compliance portal trials hub. Learn details about signing up and trial terms.

Requirements to restore an inactive mailbox

  • You must use Exchange Online PowerShell to restore an inactive mailbox. You can't use the Exchange admin center (EAC) or the Microsoft Purview compliance portal for this procedure. For step-by-step instructions to use Exchange Online PowerShell, see Connect to Exchange Online PowerShell.

  • Run the following command in Exchange Online PowerShell to get identity information for the inactive mailboxes in your organization.

    Get-Mailbox -InactiveMailboxOnly | Format-List Name,DistinguishedName,ExchangeGuid,PrimarySmtpAddress

    Use the information returned by this command to identify and restore a specific inactive mailbox.

  • For more information about inactive mailboxes, see Inactive mailboxes in Office 365.

Restore inactive mailboxes

Use the New-MailboxRestoreRequest cmdlet with the SourceMailbox and TargetMailbox parameters to restore the contents of an inactive mailbox to an existing mailbox. For more information about using this cmdlet, see New-MailboxRestoreRequest.

Before you can restore an inactive mailbox, you have to add the LegacyExchangeDN of the inactive mailbox to the target mailbox, as an X500 proxy address of the target mailbox. This has to be done because the New-MailboxRestoreRequest cmdlet checks to make sure the value of the LegacyExchangeDN property on the source and target mailboxes is the same. After you restore the inactive mailbox, you can optionally remove the LegacyExchangeDN of the inactive mailbox from source mailbox. Be sure to wait until the mailbox restore request is complete before removing the LegacyExchangeDN.

Follow these steps to restore an inactive mailbox to an existing mailbox:

(Video) 39 Create and Manage Inactive Mailbox in Microsoft 365 | Exchange Online

  1. Create a variable that contains the properties of the inactive mailbox.

    $inactiveMailbox = Get-Mailbox -InactiveMailboxOnly -Identity <identity of inactive mailbox>

    Important

    In the previous command, use the value of the DistinguishedName or ExchangeGUID property to identify the inactive mailbox. These properties are unique for each mailbox in your organization, whereas it's possible that an active and an inactive mailbox might have the same primary SMTP address.

  2. Display the LegacyExchangeDN of the inactive mailbox so that you can add it as a proxy address to the target mailbox in the next step.

    $inactiveMailbox.LegacyExchangeDN
  3. Add the LegacyExchangeDN of the inactive mailbox as an X500 proxy address to the target mailbox.

    Set-Mailbox <identity of target mailbox> -EmailAddresses @{Add="X500:<LegacyExchangeDN of inactive mailbox>"}
  4. Restore the contents of the inactive mailbox to an existing mailbox. The contents of the inactive mailbox (source mailbox) will be merged into the corresponding folders in the existing mailbox (target mailbox).

    New-MailboxRestoreRequest -SourceMailbox $inactiveMailbox.DistinguishedName -TargetMailbox <identity of target mailbox> 

    Alternatively, you can specify a top-level folder in the target mailbox in which to restore the contents from the inactive mailbox. If the specified target folder or target folder structure doesn't already exist in the target mailbox, it is created during the restore process.

    This example copies mailbox items and subfolders from an inactive mailbox to a folder named "Inactive Mailbox" in the top-level folder structure of the target mailbox.

    New-MailboxRestoreRequest -SourceMailbox $InactiveMailbox.DistinguishedName -TargetMailbox <identity of target mailbox> -TargetRootFolder "Inactive Mailbox"
  5. After the restore request is complete, you can optionally remove the LegacyExchangeDN of the inactive mailbox from the target mailbox. Leaving the LegacyExchangeDN from the inactive mailbox won't affect the target mailbox.

    (Video) Simplify regulatory compliance with Microsoft Purview Compliance Manager

    Set-Mailbox <identity of target mailbox> -EmailAddresses @{Remove="X500:<LegacyExchangeDN of inactive mailbox>"}

Restore the archive from an inactive mailbox

If an inactive mailbox has an archive mailbox, you can also restore it to the archive mailbox of an existing mailbox. To restore the archive from an inactive mailbox, you have to add the SourceIsArchive and TargetIsArchive switches to the command used to restore an inactive mailbox.

  1. Create a variable that contains the properties of the inactive mailbox.

    $inactiveMailbox = Get-Mailbox -InactiveMailboxOnly -Identity <identity of inactive mailbox>

    Note

    In the previous command, use the value of the DistinguishedName or ExchangeGUID property to identify the inactive mailbox. These properties are unique for each mailbox in your organization, whereas it's possible that an active and an inactive mailbox might have the same primary SMTP address.

  2. Display the LegacyExchangeDN of the inactive mailbox so that you can add it as a proxy address to the target mailbox in the next step.

    $inactiveMailbox.LegacyExchangeDN
  3. Add the LegacyExchangeDN of the inactive mailbox as an X500 proxy address to the target mailbox.

    Set-Mailbox <identity of target mailbox> -EmailAddresses @{Add="X500:<LegacyExchangeDN of inactive mailbox>"}
  4. Restore the contents of the archive from the inactive mailbox (source archive) to the archive of an existing mailbox (target archive). In this example, the contents from the source archive are copied to a folder named "Inactive Mailbox Archive" in the archive of the target mailbox.

    New-MailboxRestoreRequest -SourceMailbox $InactiveMailbox.DistinguishedName -SourceIsArchive -TargetMailbox <identity of target mailbox> -TargetIsArchive -TargetRootFolder "Inactive Mailbox Archive"
  5. After the restore request is complete, you can optionally remove the LegacyExchangeDN of the inactive mailbox from the target mailbox. Leaving the LegacyExchangeDN from the inactive mailbox won't affect the target mailbox.

    Set-Mailbox <identity of target mailbox> -EmailAddresses @{Remove="X500:<LegacyExchangeDN of inactive mailbox>"}

More information

  • What's the main difference between recovering and restoring an inactive mailbox? When you recover an inactive mailbox, the mailbox is converted to a new mailbox. The contents and folder structure of the inactive mailbox are retained, and the mailbox is linked to a new user account. After it's recovered, the inactive mailbox no longer exists, and any changes made to the content in the new mailbox will affect the content that was originally on hold in the inactive mailbox. Conversely, when you restore an inactive mailbox, the contents are merely copied to another mailbox. The inactive mailbox is preserved and remains an inactive mailbox. Any changes made to the content in the target mailbox won't affect the original content held in the inactive mailbox. The inactive mailbox can still be searched by using the Content Search tool, its contents can be restored to another mailbox, or it can be recovered or deleted at a later date.

    (Video) How to apply Retention Policies in "Office 365/Microsoft 365 Purview" | Microsoft Compliance Feature

  • How do you find inactive mailboxes? To get a list of the inactive mailboxes in your organization and display information that is useful for restoring an inactive mailbox, you can run this command.

    Get-Mailbox -InactiveMailboxOnly | Format-List Name,PrimarySMTPAddress,DistinguishedName,ExchangeGUID,LegacyExchangeDN,ArchiveStatus
  • Use a Microsoft 365 retention policy or Litigation Hold or to retain inactive mailbox content. If you want to retain the state of an inactive mailbox after it's restored, you can apply a Microsoft 365 retention policy to the target mailbox or place the target mailbox on Litigation Hold before you restore the inactive mailbox. This will prevent the permanent deletion of any items from the inactive mailbox after they're restored to the target mailbox.

  • Enable retention hold on the target mailbox before you restore an inactive mailbox. Because mailbox items from an inactive mailbox could be old, you might consider enabling retention hold on the target mailbox before you restore an inactive mailbox. When you put a mailbox on retention hold, the retention policy that's assigned to it won't be processed until the retention hold is removed or until the retention hold period expires. This gives the owner of the target mailbox time to manage old messages from the inactive mailbox. Otherwise, the retention policy might delete old items (or move items to the archive mailbox, if it's enabled) that have expired based on the retention settings configured for the target mailbox. For more information, see Place a mailbox on retention hold in Exchange Online.

  • You can use other parameters with the New-MailboxRestoreRequest cmdlet to implement different restore scenarios for inactive mailboxes. For example, you can run this command to restore the archive from the inactive mailbox into the primary mailbox of the target mailbox.

    New-MailboxRestoreRequest -SourceMailbox <inactive mailbox> -SourceIsArchive -TargetMailbox <target mailbox> -TargetRootFolder "Inactive Mailbox Archive"

    You can also restore the inactive primary mailbox into the archive of the target mailbox by running this command.

    New-MailboxRestoreRequest -SourceMailbox <inactive mailbox> -TargetMailbox <target mailbox> -TargetIsArchive -TargetRootFolder "Inactive Mailbox"
  • What does the TargetRootFolder parameter do? As previously explained, you can use the TargetRootFolder parameter to specify a folder in the top of the folder structure (also called the root) in the target mailbox in which to restore the contents of the inactive mailbox. If you don't use this parameter, mailbox items from the inactive mailbox are merged into the corresponding default folders of the target mailbox, and custom folders are re-created in the root of the target mailbox. The following illustrations highlight these differences between not using and using the TargetRootFolder parameter.

    Folder hierarchy in the target mailbox when the TargetRootFolder parameter isn't used

    Restore an inactive mailbox - Microsoft Purview (compliance) (1)

    Folder hierarchy in the target mailbox when the TargetRootFolder parameter is used

    Restore an inactive mailbox - Microsoft Purview (compliance) (2)

    (Video) How to troubleshoot Exchange Online compliance features | Compliance Center | Microsoft

FAQs

How can we recover an inactive mailbox? ›

You can't recover or restore an inactive mailbox that's configured with an auto-expanding archive. If you need to recover data from an inactive mailbox with an auto-expanding archive, use content search to export the data from the mailbox and then import to another mailbox.

Does an inactive mailbox require a license? ›

Inactive mailboxes don't need any type of license. Microsoft is reducing the recovery period to 30 days from September 2022 (it won't make much difference). Inactive mailboxes are invisible to normal client interfaces, like OWA and Outlook desktop.

How do I restore my mailbox? ›

Recovering mailboxes
  1. Click Microsoft Office 365 (Local agent).
  2. Select the mailbox to recover, and then click Recovery. You can search mailboxes by name. ...
  3. Select a recovery point. ...
  4. Click Recover > Mailbox.
  5. In Target mailbox, view, change, or specify the target mailbox. ...
  6. Click Start recovery.

How long does inactive mailbox last? ›

This means that content in an inactive mailbox is retained forever or until the hold is removed and the inactive mailbox is deleted. Therefore, we recommend using Microsoft 365 retention for inactive mailboxes.

Can you recover a mailbox? ›

It can be recovered within 30 days after being deleted. After 30 days, the user account and mailbox are permanently deleted and not recoverable. To delete a Microsoft 365 or Office 365 work or school account, see Delete or restore users.

How do I enable litigation hold on an inactive mailbox? ›

Go to Recipients > Mailboxes. On the mailbox properties page, click Mailbox features. Under Litigation hold: Disabled, click Enable to place the mailbox on Litigation Hold.

How do I view inactive mailboxes in Office 365? ›

In the left navigation pane, select Data lifecycle management > Microsoft 365 > Retention policies. Select the Inactive mailbox option: The Inactive mailboxes page displays a list of inactive mailboxes. Select one to see details about that inactive mailbox.

How do I know if my mailbox is litigation hold? ›

Office 365 Litigation Hold FAQs
  1. Go to the Exchange admin center and go to Recipients.
  2. Select Mailboxes, and in the list of user mailboxes, choose the one you want to verify has a hold, and then click Edit.
  3. On the mailbox properties page, click Mailbox features.
  4. Under Litigation hold, confirm that hold is enabled.

What happens if you remove a license from a disabled mailbox? ›

If you remove a user's license, the user mailbox will no longer be able to sign in and use Exchange Online or Office 365. The user mailbox will remain in Exchange Online until it is deleted, permanently removed or purged by the Office 365 admin. You can reassign a license to the user and make the mailbox active again.

What happens if you remove a license from an active mailbox? ›

When you remove the license, all that user's data is held for 30 days. You can access the data, or restore the account if the user comes back. After 30 days, all the user's data (except for documents stored on SharePoint Online) is deleted permanently from Office 365 and can't be recovered.

Can an unlicensed user access a shared mailbox? ›

To access a shared mailbox, a user must have an Exchange Online license, but the shared mailbox doesn't require a separate license.

How do I restore my mailbox in Office 365? ›

Use the Microsoft 365 admin center to Restore a user account
  1. Go to Admin Centre.
  2. Users.
  3. Deleted Users.
  4. Open the deleted user.
  5. Click on restore the mailbox.
  6. After Clicking on restoring the mailbox it will appear in Active users .
  7. Please assign the License to that User and change the password.

How do I check my mailbox restore status? ›

Use the Get-MailboxRestoreRequest cmdlet to view detailed status of an ongoing restore request that was initiated by using the New-MailboxRestoreRequest cmdlet. For information about the parameter sets in the Syntax section below, see Exchange cmdlet syntax.
...
For example:
  1. Name.
  2. Distinguished name (DN)
  3. GUID.

How do I restore a shared mailbox? ›

To recover a shared mailbox, expand the Users node, select All users, select the shared mailbox that you want to recover, and then click Recovery.

What happens to inactive email accounts? ›

E-mail expires or disables with inactivity

Many free online e-mail services disable or delete an e-mail account that is not in use for so many days. For example, users who do not log into their e-mail account at least once every thirty-days can have their accounts deactivated.

What happens when a mailbox is disabled? ›

Disabling a mailbox means disconnecting a mailbox-enabled user account in Active Directory from its mailbox. When the mailbox is disabled, all the exchange attributes of the user account are removed from Active Directory.

What happens to your mail if your mailbox is gone? ›

After ten days, mail is returned to sender. The recipient can get the overflow mail by: Scheduling a Redelivery with PS Form 3849 - Someone must be available to receive the overflow mail when Redelivery occurs.

When an inbox mail is deleted accidentally it can be recovered? ›

When you delete a message, it stays in your trash for 30 days. After that time, it will be permanently deleted from your account and can't be recovered.

How long will a mailbox remain in a soft deleted state by default? ›

The user mailbox is now soft-deleted in Exchange Online and stays in a soft-deleted state for 30 days.

What licensing is required to place a mailbox on Litigation Hold? ›

You must have an Exchange Online Plan 2 license to place Exchange Online mailboxes on hold. In doing so, all mailbox items, including modified and original versions of the items. Likewise, content in users; active mailboxes are also retained when you create a Litigation Hold.

How do I enable legal hold in Office 365 mailbox? ›

Litigation Hold in Microsoft 365
  1. Open Exchange Admin Center.
  2. Navigate to Recipient → Mailboxes → Edit → Mailbox Features → Litigation Hold → Enable.
  3. Enter the Litigation hold duration, for which you want the items to be held.

Are Inactive emails deleted? ›

Do unused Gmail accounts get deleted? Google no longer completely deletes Gmail accounts due to inactivity. However, if a Gmail account has not been used for more than 24 months, the data stored in the account (messages, files, photos, etc.) will be deleted.

How do I find an inactive email? ›

Email Checker

You just have to enter the email address and tap the check button. The tool runs a check and tells you whether or not the email address is valid. Just visit www.email-checker.net to use this tool. Enter the email address you would like to check and Email Checker will show you the results.

What is the difference between deleting a mailbox and disabling a mailbox? ›

The primary difference between deleting and disabling a mailbox is that when you disable a mailbox, the Exchange attributes are removed from the corresponding Active Directory user account, but the user account is retained.

Can you get in trouble reinforcing your mailbox? ›

A local man who reinforced his mailbox with steel and concrete may become liable for injuries to a driver who hit it.

How many times can you do a Hold mail request? ›

An address can have only one USPS Hold Mail® service in effect at a time. A USPS Hold Mail request is not necessary for a PO Box™, as mail delivered to a PO Box will be allowed to accumulate for up to 30 days. Be sure to notate confirmation number for future reference in case changes are necessary.

Why do litigation holds? ›

A litigation hold prevents spoliation -- destruction, alteration or mutilation of evidence. Its goal is to ensure that a plaintiff has fair access to any information that might be relevant to the litigation. A legal hold applies to both hard copies of documents and to electronically stored information (ESI).

Is removing mail from a mailbox a federal offense? ›

Removing mail is a separate crime referred to as mail theft. Generally, the offense occurs when someone takes a letter, postcard, package, box, or other items addressed to another person. It can be prosecuted as a federal crime, state crime, or both, and a conviction carries harsh penalties.

Does removing an Exchange license delete mailbox? ›

How to Remove an Office 365 Mailbox Using Microsoft 365 Admin. Selecting the user account will display the user configuration. Select Licenses and apps and deselect the Exchange Online license. This will delete the user mailbox.

Can the mailman unlock my mailbox? ›

Note: A mailbox with a lock must have a slot that is large enough to accommodate your daily mail volume. The Postal Service™ neither opens a locked box nor accepts a key for this purpose. You pickup the mailbox key(s) from the local Post Office.

How can you identify whether someone was accessing another user's mailbox? ›

How to Detect Who Was Accessing Shared Mailbox in Office 365
  1. Open Exchange Administration Center → Navigate to "Compliance Management" Auditing.
  2. Click "Run a non-owner mailbox access report". ...
  3. To view non-owner access to a specific mailbox Click on a mailbox to view all non-owner access events with the details.

Can a shared mailbox receive external email without a license? ›

A shared mailbox doesn't require a license unless you will be using more than 50GB.

Can you audit a shared mailbox? ›

Shared mailboxes are useful resources but are not audited by default. To enable auditing, you need to use PowerShell. The first step is to authenticate to your Exchange Online tenant using an account that has permission to change audit settings, like an Office 365 Global Administrator account.

Does System Restore affect emails? ›

System Restore does not affect personal data -- such as new files, new email messages and changes to documents -- while it undoes system changes.

How do you resync a mailbox? ›

Go to Start and open Mail. Select Manage Accounts and select your email account. Select Change mailbox sync settings > Advanced mailbox settings. Confirm that your incoming and outgoing email server addresses and ports are correct.

How do I reactivate a shared mailbox? ›

You can also reconnect disabled linked mailboxes and disabled shared mailboxes to the corresponding user account.
  1. In the EAC, navigate to Recipients > Mailboxes.
  2. Click More. ...
  3. Click the disabled mailbox that you want to reconnect, and then click Connect.
Feb 10, 2022

Does mail com delete inactive accounts? ›

As outlined in our terms and conditions, mail.com's free email accounts are considered inactive after six months. Inactive accounts will eventually be automatically terminated and the data they contained deleted for reasons of data privacy.

How do I reactivate an expired email address? ›

Is it possible to reactivate an email account? Once an email account has been terminated, it is not possible to restore the data that it contained – for reasons of data privacy, the email provider has to delete all the emails and other information in a closed account.

How do I access inactive mailboxes in Office 365? ›

In the left navigation pane, select Data lifecycle management > Microsoft 365 > Retention policies. Select the Inactive mailbox option: The Inactive mailboxes page displays a list of inactive mailboxes. Select one to see details about that inactive mailbox.

How do I reset my shared mailbox? ›

Just go to admin.microsoft.com > Users > Active Users > select the Shared Mailbox > Reset password.
...
Shared Mailbox can have a password and login enabled without...
  1. Labels:
  2. Admin.
  3. Exchange Online.
Oct 31, 2018

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4. How to delete emails from a users mailbox in Office 365!
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