Office 365 Retention Policies for Calendar & Tasks

Aftab Alam
Aftab Alam linkedin | Updated On - November 08, 2022 |

Read time 4 minutes

Exchange Online Administrators need to take some proactive measures to protect the whole data in the account. Generally, the primary focus of data protection is on Emails and Contacts as they are essential for the business. But the additional information like Calendar, notes, archive, tasks, etc., should also be protected.

The retention policies help manage the lifecycle of all mailbox items. They contain a ‘retention tag,’ which specifies whether it should be moved to the archive and when it should be deleted.

Apart from mailbox items, several default folders can take advantage of retention tags for protection.
Retention Policy can be applied to the following default folders, including Calendar and Tasks.

Default Folders Usage
Calendar A calendar folder can save important dates, events, meetings, and appointments.
Tasks When a user creates a task to complete in the future, its description is saved in the Task folder. It is also savable using retention tags.
Clutter Clutter folder can save the lesser essential emails and make the Inbox decluttered.
Deleted Items When emails are deleted from the Inbox, then they reach to Deleted Items default folder. It will support retention tags also.
Drafts Drafts folder saves the messages that the user does not send to other accounts.
Journal This folder saves the user’s actions and is placed in the timeline view in Outlook.
Notes Notes created in Outlook are saved in this folder. They can be protected using retention tags.
Outbox Outbox contains the outgoing messages temporarily until they are entirely processed in the Hub Transport Server.
Sync Issues Synchronization logs are present in the Sync Issues folder.
Archive The archive folder is the destination for saving older messages present in Outlook. The retention policies can keep archive mailbox messages. But it will work only in Exchange Online.

Create a Retention Tag

When you have created the retention policy, wait for at least 24 hours to make them functional in the entire Office 365 account.

  1. Go to Compliance in Admin Center and click Retention Policies.
  2. Choose the retention policy under which you need to create the tag.
  3. Click Edit.
  4. Click Add(+) and create the tag with a new name.

Apply the Retention Tag

  1. Go to the Outlook application where you have connected the same office 365 account.
  2. Choose Calendar and right-click on it. Choose to apply the retention tags.
    Choose Calendar

The retention policy protects the selected folder from deletion. There is some necessary information that you need to keep in mind before creating the retention tags-

  1. In Exchange Online, you can also create retention tags on Calendar and Tasks.
  2. You can apply retention tags only on default folders. But, you can use only limited actions on them like –
    • Delete and Allow Recovery
    • Permanently Delete
  3. You cannot create a tag to move messages to an archive folder. It would help if you created Default Policy Tag or personal tags to move the messages to the archive mailbox.
  4. Retention policy tags will not work on Contacts folders.
  5. You can apply only a single tag to the default folder. For example, if you have added a retention tag on Inbox, no other tag will be applicable.

Retention Policies are not Backups

Office 365 follows a shared tenancy model where both user and platform are responsible for data security. It follows a Software as a Service (SaaS) model where Microsoft and others manage some components.

Office 365 manages the physical infrastructure and maintains mailboxes’ availability, but the security is dependent on the users. So, it would help if you understood that retentions are not backups. Backups take an offline copy while retention saves the data from deletion. If you have not enabled the retention policies in data, then it is unsafe from the abrupt deletion.


Taking a backup of the Office 365 mailbox reduces the chances of data loss and reduces the need for having a robust retention policy. So, you should take a backup of the Office 365 mailbox using either the manual or professional Export Office 365 to PST software. The manual process saves only the emails in PST format. But, professional software can save entire mailbox like emails, Contacts, Calendars, notes, and other items.

Kernel Office 365 Backup and Restore software is designed to take the backup of unlimited mailboxes in PST file format. The Exchange Administrator can save the whole account and keep it safe from many threats.