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How to Delete User Mailboxes in Exchange Online?

Megha Sharma Megha Sharma Updated On - 27 May 2020

You can use Microsoft 365 admin center or Windows PowerShell for deleting Exchange Online mailboxes. The effect of deletion on the mailbox varies according to the process used. Soft-deleted user-mailbox is that mailbox which is deleted via Microsoft 365 admin center or using cmdlet in Exchange Management Shell. This mailbox still will be residing in Azure Active Directory recycle bin for less than 30 days. Also, the mailbox is termed as soft-deleted if Azure active directory user account related with user mailbox has been hard deleted. Or, if user mailbox has been soft-deleted for more than 30 days, or the related Azure active directory user has been hard-deleted, the mailbox gets deleted forever and is termed as “hard deleted mailbox”. This in turn means if the soft deleted mailbox survived the default 30 days retention period in the deleted folder or it is deleted manually, it would be deleted permanently (hard deleted).

2 ways to delete user mailbox in Exchange Online

You can delete Exchange Online user mailboxes in two different ways:

Delete an Exchange Online mailbox using Microsoft 365 admin center

The easiest method to delete a user-mailbox in Exchange Online is by using Microsoft 365 admin center.

If you delete a user account in Microsoft 365, the related mailbox from Exchange Online gets deleted. And the user account in Microsoft 365 gets listed in the Deleted Users page in Microsoft 365 admin center. This user mailbox can be recovered within 30 days. After this time exceeds, it gets permanently deleted and cannot be recovered.

This is how you can delete user mailboxes in Microsoft 365:

  1. Log in with your Microsoft 365 credentials. Click Admin.
    Log in Office 365 credentials
  2. Go to Users>Active Users. Select the user you want to delete. Then select Delete user option to delete that particular user mailbox.
    Select the user you want to delete

Similarly, you can delete user mailboxes one-by-one. After deletion, to stop paying for the license assigned to the deleted user-mailbox, you need to remove its license. To do this, go to Microsoft 365 admin center. Then, navigate to Billing>Subscriptions; select the subscription and then choose Add/Remove licenses to delete the license and stop paying for it.

Delete an Exchange Online mailbox using Windows PowerShell

You can permanently delete Exchange Online user mailboxes using Windows PowerShell:

  1. First connect your Microsoft 365 account to Windows PowerShell by running the command.
    $UserCredential = Get-Credential
  2. A dialogue box pops up after the execution of this command. Enter the Microsoft 365 credentials and click OK.
    Enter Office 365 credentials
  3. Next, enter the following command for connection:
    $Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri https://outlook.office365.com/powershell-liveid/ -Credential $UserCredential -Authentication Basic -AllowRedirection
  4. Now run:
    Import-PSSession $Session -DisableNameChecking
  5. To delete a user mailbox, run:
    Remove-Mailbox -Identity <mailbox identity>

    To view the user profiles residing in your deleted folder (as it resides in the deleted folder for 30 days period), run the following command:

    Get-MsolUser – ReturnDeletedUsers

    Command to view user profiles in deleted folder

  6. To delete the user mailbox permanently (i.e. to remove from the Recycle Bin), execute the following command:
    Remove-MsolUser -UserPrincipalName <mailbox identity> -RemoveFromRecycleBin

    Command to delete the user mailbox permanently

Old and outdated user mailboxes are always undesirable and should be properly disposed of. These two easy methods provide solutions to get rid of unwanted data. Although, if you want to back up your Exchange Online mailboxes before deleting them, trust Kernel Office 365 Backup & Restore tool. It is an advanced Microsoft 365 Backup tool to back up Exchange/Microsoft 365 mailboxes and import PST files to Microsoft 365.

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Conclusion

This article suggests two manual ways to perform soft as well as hard deletion of user mailboxes. However, it is recommended to back mailboxes before deleting them. For this, a smart Microsoft 365 backup tool is recommended in the end.