Exchange Online Archiving seems to be a very popular service offered by Microsoft via Office 365 and it usually is a key factor for enterprise customers and small businesses to opt for their way to Exchange Online. Enterprise customers usually use Office 365 enterprise subscription, like E3, where Exchange Online Archiving is included by default, together with the Office 365 ProPlus desktop applications. Everything is very straightforward. However, small businesses usually work with the Office 365 Business Plans that don’t include Exchange Online Archiving by default, neither the Office ProPlus desktop applications and this may cause some headaches. That’s why I aim to clarify some important aspects around Exchange Online Archiving and Outlook client limitations.
First of all, if you are using an Office 365 business subscription (essentials, business, business premium), this doesn’t include Exchange Online Archiving. However, you can purchase it as additional service for your tenant for a fee around 3$/month/user. Still, there is another very BIG aspect you should take into consideration: Exchange Online Archiving is supported only with Office 365 ProPlus! With the Office 365 business plans you get the Office 365 Business desktop applications, and Exchange Online Archiving will not work with Outlook!
As behaviour, you will activate the archive for a certain user, and the user will be able to access it via OWA. However, the archive will not be mapped into the Outlook client and it simply won’t appear there. You may find an extensive table of Office 365 features on TechNet, where you will see exactly that the Office applications that are included in the Office 365 Business plans are not supported by Exchange Online Archiving.
So what does this mean for a small business? If you currently own an Office 365 business subscription and you want to use Exchange Online Archiving, you have to separately purchase the Exchange Online Archive add-on and a separate Office 365 ProPlus licenses for the users that will be enabled to archive their e-mails. From a cost perspective, if you have a Office 365 Business Premium subscription, would mean a total of 20$ per month/user. The Office 365 E3 subscriptions costs also 20$ per month/per user. In this case it might be wise to upgrade to the E3 plan and take full advantage of all the great features that are included in this enterprise plan.
So if you work in the IT field and need to advise your customers, friends, relatives about optimal IT soultions for their business needs, please keep in mind the aspects mentioned above. Briefly, if you need Exchange Online Archiving, you also need Office 365 ProPlus desktop applications, which are included only in the E plans or as a stand-alone license. In the Office 365 business plan you get the Office 365 Business desktop applications and Outlook will not work with Exchange Online Archiving.
Update: As I received a very important feedback, I thought to update this post with a very useful clarification. This blog post refers to the Exchange Online Archiving service and not to the Exchange Online personal archive. All Exchange Online plans (except Kiosk plans) can be enabled for a personal archive. However, personal archive quotas and mailbox quotas are calculated together. So, for example an user could have a 25 GB archive and a 25 GB mailbox, or any other combination that does not go over 50 GB. The Exchange Online Archiving service, on the other side, comes with an unlimited quota that is calculated totally separated of the mailbox quota. Also, in hybrid environments, you could have your Exchange mailbox on premise and the archive mailbox in Exchange Online. So, a certain archive capability comes however by default with all Office 365 plans (except Kiosk) and all the limitations mentioned in this article regard the more complex Exchange Online Archiving capability. Personal archives can be also displayed in Office 365 Business without any problems.