Retention policies in Office 365 vs full control over retention in Xopero ONE

What is data retention and why is it important for your company to know retention policies in Office 365? Data retention is a set of policies about which data should be stored and for how long. Probably every company has its own rules here and if not – it should. There is also a chance that your company needs to comply with some legal requirements regarding storing the files and formal documentation. 

When it comes to retention policies in Office 365 you will find out shortly that they probably aren’t sufficient enough. In this article, we will talk about retention policies in Office 365 and how you can control long-term data retention in Xopero One. 

Retention policies in Office 365 and related problems

Office 365 suite offers some ways to retain your data, but as we mentioned earlier those ways are not sufficient for most needs. To set up retention in Office 365 you would need to set up retention policies. 

If you want to learn more about retention policies in Office 365 – check our article about setting up Microsoft Office 365 backup policies

Yet retention policies are the main part of Office 365 backup policies, don’t mistake it for the proper backup that we strongly advise you to include when you are thinking about protecting your Office 365 data. Each one of the Office 365 apps has its own retention policies set up. 

Exchange Online has a default 30-days retention period when it comes to deleted mailboxes. Individual items that were deleted can be recovered for up to 14 days, but this period can be manually increased up to 30 days.

In SharePoint Online by default, data is retained for 14 days. Deleted items are kept in the recycle bin for 93 days – after that time they are deleted permanently and we call it hard deletion.

And for OneDrive for Business the default retention period is 30 days. 

This is how default retention policies in Office 365 most popular applications work, but there is a way provided by Microsoft to extend the retention period drastically. In Microsoft 365 Compliance Center you can set up retention tags for specific apps. You can set up those retention tags to delete the files after set period of time. There is an option to keep the files indefinitely, but it doesn’t make them easy to recover in case of a disaster. 

To make sure your data is secure for as long as you need, you need to be equipped with a proper tool, and such a tool is a proper Office 365 backup with Xopero One. 

Long-term retention in Xopero One

Let’s see now how the situation looks with retention in Xopero One. With Xopero One you will be able to fully control how you create backups of your Office 365 organization, and here we will focus on how you can control retention settings for your Office 365 backup.

When you are creating a backup plan for your Office 365 you are able to set a rule defining how you want to retain your copies. You have 3 options:

  • To keep the copies indefinitely
  • To keep the copies by the time
  • To keep the copies by the number of copies

Retention Rules in Xopero One

The first option is to keep the files indefinitely. That way you don’t have to worry that you will be missing any copy. You will have access to the copies from months or even years ago, but the problem with that solution is that you would require a lot of storage capacity to store all that copies. 

The second option is to keep the copies by time. You can set up for how long you want to retain certain types of copies (full, incremental and differential copies). You can separately choose for how long you want to retain full copies, incremental copies, and differential copies. This way you can save on storage space, by for example keeping full copies for longer periods of time, but keeping differential and incremental ones for a month (until the next full copy).

The last option to set up retention in Xopero One is to keep the copies by the number of copies created. This one is straightforward. You can set up how many copies you want to retain. It can be 10 copies, but it also can be 1000 copies. Please note that in this case you also should consider 

Grandfather – Father – Son Backup Scheme (GFS)

Together with retention, we must discuss backup rotation schemes – those two concepts are strictly related. Xopero ONE offers two backup rotation schemes – basic FIFO (First-in-First-out) scheme and Grandfather-Father-Son backup scheme (GFS). Let’s take a look at the second one. The GFS backup scheme allows you to manage copies over a long period of time while requiring minimal space in storage and enables fast recovery. 

The GFS scheme connects multiple backup types cycles (full copies, incremental copies, and differential copies) and rotates them in different time intervals to enable fast recovery and save storage space. 

The Grandfather copy – a full one – is created once a month, the Father copy – differential one – is created once a week, and the Son copy – incremental one – is created once a day. To fully restore all the files the maximum number of copies needed is 8: last full copy, last difone, and 6 differential ones. 


Xopero One offers full and easy control over retention of your Office 365 data, in opposition to Microsoft ways of retaining your data, where you have little to none control over the retention period. Also there are two important assumptions about versioning – Xopero ONE never deletes the last version and always makes sure not to disturb the continuity of the version chains.