Creating and Applying Retention Policies
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In this course, we'll be taking a look at how to start managing your archiving policies within your Microsoft Exchange mailboxes. 

Learning Objectives

  • The basics of retention policies, retention tags, and Messaging Records Management
  • How to activate and enable archive mailboxes in Exchange
  • How to create new retention policies and retention tags
  • How to assign retention policies to a user’s mailbox

Intended Audience

  • Users looking to learn about archiving in exchange online


  • A basic familiarity with Microsoft Exchange

Now that we have our retention tags, we are finally ready to create our new retention policy. Just like our previous lecture, we navigate to the Legacy Exchange option within the Data Lifecycle Management section of our Microsoft Purview compliance portal. Here we have all of our MRM policies which currently only consists of our default and our eight-year test policy. So, let's change that. If we click on the new policy option, we can create our new policy with all of our custom tags we just created. Just like before, I want to name this very specifically to easily determine its purpose. Depending on how an organization is set up, this policy may pertain to a specific avenue of business. So, it would be smart to name this specific to what it pertains to. For example, let's just say this is a new HR policy to apply, so I could name this something like, New HR Archive and Deletion Policy. We can start to add tags to our new policy. So, once I click 'Add Tag', I can simply choose the tags I want to apply from this list. I will choose the two custom tags we just created alongside some preconfigured personal tags.

Once I'm happy with my selection, I can click Add and Next, which brings us to a review section. But assuming everything is good, we simply click 'Submit' and that policy will be created. You can see we're prompted to go to Exchange Online Admin Center to apply the policy. But before we go do that, I just want to show you how to adjust the policy. Back in the list we can see our new policy has been added. But if we wanted to configure it, we can click on it, and then click the Edit option here and follow the same prompts we had before. But once our policy is created and we verify everything is all set, we are ready to apply it to our mailboxes. So, now we need to head over to the Exchange Admin Center. We navigate to the Recipients tab and then mailboxes, the same place we initially enabled our archive mailboxes. From here, in order to apply our new policy, we simply choose the user or users we want to apply them to, click on those users, and on the menu click on 'Mailbox' and 'Manage Mailbox' policies.

Here, we can simply find the retention policy, choose the new policy we want to apply, and apply it to the mailbox. Once that's done, we simply hit Save and we're good to go. It is important to note that new retention policies can take up to seven days to implement. This is due to a process known as Managed Folder Assistant, which is responsible for processing mailbox changes running once every seven days. You can, however, force this to occur by connecting to Exchange Online PowerShell and running the following two commands. Now, if you wanted to make this the new default retention policy for any new users, you can run this command to do so. Remember to specify the name of your retention policy in order to properly apply your new custom policy.


About the Author
Learning Paths

Lee has spent most of his professional career learning as much as he could about PC hardware and software while working as a PC technician with Microsoft. Once covid hit, he moved into a customer training role with the goal to get as many people prepared for remote work as possible using Microsoft 365. Being both Microsoft 365 certified and a self-proclaimed Microsoft Teams expert, Lee continues to expand his knowledge by working through the wide range of Microsoft certifications.