Should You Delete or Suspend Staff Email Accounts at Your School?

Teachers, administrators and other staff will take new jobs, retire and give IT departments other reasons to delete or suspend their email accounts. Fortunately, there are plenty of similarities with the two most common email systems, Office 365 and Google (G Suite), regarding how to handle a departing employee.

Office 365

Typically, you’d start by disabling a user’s Active Directory account. However, what we hear too often is that you don’t want to delete that account right away, because Office 365 uses the authentication service Azure Active Directory to manage users. When a mailbox gets deleted, the archive also gets deleted. There is still a 30-day recovery period, but that adds another step to the process you want to avoid.

Instead, you can put the user on a litigation hold to keep all of their email. You can do that for a certain amount of time or indefinitely, and then remove the license and the Active Directory account at a later date. Rumors abound that Office 365 is planning on getting rid of in-place holds, which, as long as they’re available, would be another option.

You still have to pay for the license if you have a user on litigation hold, so another option is to export the account as a .pst file. While .pst files are notoriously unstable, you then could get rid of the user license and reduce costs.

Google

Similar to Office 365, if you delete a Gmail account, the Vault account also gets deleted. Google recommends suspending accounts as opposed to deleting them. Like Active Directory, Google suggests that you configure its Cloud Directory Sync to accomplish suspending an inactive email account. Google Takeout is offered at the user-level.

While Vault remains free for K-12 schools and districts, instead of .pst files, Google offers a proprietary format known as mbox. While mbox is a more stable format than .pst files, it still can be cumbersome to search and view the data once it’s out of Google. There’s also the issue of support. Remember: You get what you pay for.

Making the right decision

When using a third-party archive solution, the debate between suspending versus deleting an inactive account is less of an issue. Gaggle’s K-12 archiving solution offers warehouse accounts, which adhere to your defined retention policy.

As soon as someone leaves your school or district, you won’t be paying for that license on a monthly basis, need to manage any litigation holds, or need to write any custom rules. The cost of warehousing an account for a year is roughly the same as the cost of what you pay per month for an Office 365 account.

Finally, a third-party K-12 email archiving solution should provide you to export using multiple file formats.

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