What happens to an employee’s mailbox if they no longer work for your organization? Which steps should you take if you want to preserve their emails and forward any incoming correspondence to their addresses? In this short tutorial, we will discuss the necessary steps that you need to go through in Microsoft Office 365 for such scenario.


  1. Block user access to Office 365.
  2. Block user access to Exchange Online.
  3. Put user’s mailbox on ‘in-place hold’. (optional, works only with Plan 2 licenses)
  4. Preserve data from mailbox by downloading it as PST file from eDiscovery. (Always do that before deactivating a user)
  5. Forward the user’s email to another address. (optional, only if necessary)
  6. Remove license from user.


Blocking Access to Office 365:

  1. Log in to Office 365 Admin Center.
  2. Go to Users => Active users.
  3. Select the user that you want to block, and then click Edit besides Sign-in status.
  4. Choose Sign-in blocked, and then save.


Blocking Access to Exchange Online:

  1. In Office 365 Admin Center, look at the lower left corner.
  2. Under Admin Centers, click
  3. Go to Recipients => Mailboxes.
  4. Click disable under Email Connectivity, then click yes


Mailbox Preservation:

  1. Go to Exchange admin center.
  2. Go to compliance management.
  3. Click + to create a new hold.
  4. Give it a name, for example: ‘PST Export’.
  5. Choose which users to back up; you can select more than one. You can also select everyone if you want to.
  6. You can filter what you want to backup per your specific criteria, or you can back up the whole mailbox.
  7. Press the download arrow icon to run the app that will download the PST file(s).
  8. If you are trying to run the app from Chrome, you will have to install this extension first.


Forward Emails to another Address:

  1. Login to Office 365 Admin Center.
  2. Go to Users => Active Users.
  3. Go to the user that you want to DEACTIVATE.
  4. DELETE their email Alias.
  5. Go to the user you want them to receive emails meant for the user who is going to be deactivated.
  6. Enter the OLD user’s alias
  7. Example: John no longer works here, his email account needs to be deactivated, but emails meant to him should go to Jane.
    1. Delete John’s alias.
    2. Add same old alias that John used to Jane’s aliases.


Removing License(s)

  1. Login to Office 365 Admin Center.
  2. Go to Users => Active Users.
  3. Select the user you want to deactivate their license(s)
  4. Click Edit beside Product licenses.
  5. Put the slide(s) of any license(s) you want to deactivate on OFF.
  6. Click on Assign to save changes.
  7. After finishing the clean-up, make sure to go to Billing => Licenses to remove any excess licenses.