Inactive Users

An inactive mailbox is a mailbox that is associated with a departed employee. A long running issue with Exchange Server is managing inactive mailboxes. With Exchange Server it was relatively straight forward – let them sit indefinitely, or for a specified time period (e.g. 3 years), for legal, regulatory, or business reasons. A new challenge Exchange Admins face is how to manage inactive mailboxes when moving to Office 365?

To speed the adoption of Office 365, Microsoft has stated customers can keep inactive mailboxes in Office 365 at “no charge”. The convoluted process involves migrating the inactive on premise mailbox to an active Office 365 mailbox. Once the migration is complete, you then place the mailbox on “Litigation Hold” or “In-Place Hold” freeing up the license so it can be used again. By repeating this process, an “unlimited” number of inactive mailboxes can be created in Office 365.

However, before you rush to adopt this seemingly straightforward strategy, you should read the fine print. Buried in the Product Terms is the License Assignment and Reassignment terms that sets limits on how licenses are used:

“Before Customer uses software under a License, it must assign that License to a device or user, as appropriate. Customer may reassign a License to another device or user, but not less than 90 days since the last reassignment of that same License, unless the reassignment is due to (i) permanent hardware failure or loss, (ii) termination of the user’s employment or contract or (iii) temporary reallocation of CALs, Client Management Licenses and user or device SLs to cover a user’s absence or the unavailability of a device that is out of service.”

This process (migrate inactive mailboxes to Office 365, place litigation hold, reuse license) raises several issues. First, it potentially violates the terms of the Microsoft Product Terms. The Product Terms clearly state that a user license cannot be reassigned less than 90 days since the last reassignment of that same license. The example described above reassign/reuse the same license in a short period of time, potentially hundreds or thousands of times, which is a clear violation of the Product Terms.

The second problem with this process is that is burdens Exchange Online with potentially hundreds or thousands of inactive mailboxes. For customers who are moving to Office 365 and have thousands of inactive mailboxes on Exchange Server, it can take considerable time and effort to move this inactive data to Office 365 and the ‘weight’ of terabytes of unnecessary data will negatively impact Exchange Online performance and increase management complexity.

A better way to address Inactive mailbox storage – Archive2Azure

At Archive360, we believe the better option is to migrate inactive mailboxes to Microsoft Azure using Archive2Azure. Archive2Azure leverages low cost “cool” Azure storage to store inactive mailboxes, PSTs, files, documents and all forms of unstructured data.  The data is held securely and managed with automated retention and disposition.  It can be searched easily and results can be exported for further eDiscovery processing.  Best of all, you keep potentially terabytes of data secure while off-loading the burden from on premises network storage.

For further information, please read the following blog.


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