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Andrew N. Kowtalo
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Critical Missing Email from O365 Cloud

Hello all.

I am experiencing an issue with a critical user who is currently in an ongoing litigation from 2013.   Currently his O365 sent folder only is showing emails from 2015 on.   He needs to be able to locate emails prior to 2015.   When the original migration was done from their old exchange environment to O365 by default we took everything that was in the onprem exchange and sucked it into O365.   However a year later we are being told there was more mail then what is currently listed.   I found a link on Microsofts retention policy


This is a very confusing article.   Because of O365 default retention policy that we are unable to get mail before 2015.   Has anyone run across this?  This is critical that they are able to retrieve sent messages prior.   If he logs into portal.office.com the mail only goes back to 2015 so policy somehow kicked in I think when the migration was done and only did 5 years worth.   But I have a feeling when the migration took place there was more than 5 years, so I am hoping perhaps email is sitting somewhere in MS cloud and can be retrieved prior to 2015.   As always appreciate the help.

P.S. I am reading that after the retention policy date is exceeded email goes into an archive.   Is this retrievable?
Chat / IM* Retention PolicyExchangeMicrosoft 365Outlook

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Andrew N. Kowtalo

8/22/2022 - Mon
Vasil Michev (MVP)

The default retention policy does NOT delete messages, it simply moves them to the archive. You can access the archive either via Outlook or OWA, of if you want to do it without the user's help, use eDiscovery/Content search: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/compliance/ediscovery

Now, if you have created/applied a custom policy, or the user simply deleted the messages, they might be lost forever. As a rule of thumb, if the user is under investigation, you should have put his mailbox on litigation/in-place hold the moment you were made aware of this, making sure that no message is lost.
Andrew N. Kowtalo


We were not made aware of this at the time, and the customer is not under litigation, they are the ones part of a lawsuit.  We found some old pst files located on his shared drive.   But those show from 2007.   We put in a call to Microsoft to see what they can tell us as well.   I will look at the eDiscovery tool and see what can be done.

Andrew N. Kowtalo


We tried to run the utility it suggested however it kept saying we did not have permission to view ediscover, even though we are the admins in the portal and gave ourselves permission.   We need to access the archive somehow.   Microsoft has a case open any other thoughts?

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Andrew N. Kowtalo

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