How long is litigation hold data retain after license downgrade?


Looking for guidance on how long any litigation hold data is retained after a license downgrade.


Case 1:

For example, mailbox has O365E3 assigned with litigation hold enabled for months. Mailbox has license downgraded from O365E3 to say Business Basic, which means no more Litigation hold. Any existing litigation hold data retained via the original O365 E3 license is removed immediately? After 30 days?


Case 2:

Are there any differences to the above case in the event of moving from O365 E3 to a shared mailbox? Again, what happens to any pre-existing litigation hold data? Removed immediately? After 30 days?


Love if there are some links that cover this situation I can share with people.


10 Replies

Changing the license has no effect on holds, just like many other functionalities across O365 do not have licensing requirements enforced. That said, a license is still required as per the usage terms, so you are responsible for removing any holds before downgrading/removing licenses.

@Vasil Michev 

So are you saying that once holds are enabled they remain forever no matter what the license?? If I have a license and enable hold, then downgrade the license to one that does not provide for hold what happens to any data related to the hold? Are you telling me that any hold data is retained no matter license was applied long term? If so where is the documentation that says this?

I would expect that once you downgrade the license the hold data is lost. My question is when does that loss happen? Immediately? or after 30 days? or when?? Again, a link to documentation would be great.

@Robert Crane Hi Robert, I don't think there is any official documentation that confirm Vasils reply more than what's required from a license point of view.


"To place an Exchange Online mailbox on Litigation Hold, it must be assigned an Exchange Online Plan 2 license. If a mailbox is assigned an Exchange Online Plan 1 license, you would have to assign it a separate Exchange Online Archiving license to place it on hold."


Feature availability


Preparations before creating an inactive mailbox


That's the best I can find (as per now).

@ChristianBergstrom my question is not about enabling the feature. My question is about data retained after a license downgrade. I would find is extremely improbable that after a license downgrade on a single mailbox litigation hold data is retained in the long run. If it was why would you continue to use more expensive licenses with that enabled feature?

what I want to know is when that feature is removed what happens to the accumulated data from the more powerful license. As I said I find it hard to believe it is retained after a downgrade. What I want to know is whether it is documented how long that hold data is retained for after the downgrade and as I said I can’t see that being forever given the license applies to a single mailbox not the tenant,

@Robert Crane I hear you. As far as I know it isn't hard-wired to the license as Vasil mentioned. But I have no link to confirm that.


Maybe @Vasil Michev or @Tony Redmond wouldn't mind elaborate on this?

@ChristianBergstrom I have spoken with Tony Redmond and he indicates that he believes old hold data is retained for 30 days before being removed. I agree with that but find no docs to confirm unfortunately. Thus downgrading license doesn’t retain hold data as I believed but all Kinda mute without confirmation officallly. So best bet of 30 days is what I’ll have to go with until there is confirmation.

@Robert Crane That's handy to know, in case that's how it really works. Thanks for sharing.

@Robert Crane what's documented are the supported configurations, as in the license requirements for hold. Any configuration outside of that is unsupported and unlikely to be commented about from anyone at MS, and can even be considered a violation. Kinda like the "change the password for shared mailbox" scenario, if we are to make analogies. But feel free to probe support and/or the PG.


I have tenants where mailboxes have been kept alive for years after any SKUs that "allows" for holds has expired. Obviously this is not a supported scenario and I can expect that data to be removed at any time, but it hasn't happened for at least 10x 30-day periods so far.

@Vasil Michev I think you are confusing the data about which I’m asking. I am not worried about what the mailbox currently contains when the license is downgraded, what I am worried about is all the change history of that mailbox that was enabled via litigation hold. That is, the data of changes I can access via eDiscovery. What happens to all that history when legal hold is removed is my question?