Under the hood of Microsoft Office365

HELP! > Under the hood: Office365

Since a limited version of Office365 is available (almost) free via TT-Exchange) to UK charities, some are opting to switch their email and data systems to Office / Sharepoint 365. There are some important limitations to note for those who wish to make this switch.

Big Change

Sharepoint does not work in the same way as SMB (standard windows file sharing) which is probably what your users are used to. Like any software change it can take some time for users to adapt to using it efficiently. For Windows machines the change can be simplified using One drive for business app which is used to sync the online Sharepoint libraries with a local machine. This is useful in that it allows users to work fast and locally using an installed MS office package, and also in the case of a bad internet connection because changes will automatically be synced with the online Sharepoint libraries once connection is restored. Unfortunately this feature is not available on Macintosh devices, Mac users will need to use Office Online.


Data may be stored outside of UK jurisdictions. Some organisations are legally obliged to ensure their data is not stored outside the UK so you need to check your policies. Unlike data stored in the UK, Office 365 data would be automatically subject to a Subpoena from a US Court, about which the owner of the data will be informed. However if the agency concerned uses FISA or an NSL to force data disclosure under 18 U.S.C. section 2709(c)(1) Microsoft (or any US based provider) would be prohibited from even informing the data owner that any disclosure has occurred.

Data retention

Office 365 data retention policies may not comply with your organisation’s policies and legal obligations under EU data protection legislation. Of specific relevance to E1 version of Office 365 (offered to UK charities FOC) are the following points:

  • Office 365 will only keep deleted emails or mailboxes up to maximum of 30 days. Some organisations are required by law to keep copies of deleted data for longer periods.
  • If an entire mailbox is deleted the maximum retrieval time is 30 days. Deleted files/folders can only be retrieved from the Second Stage Recycle Bin (administrator accessible) a maximum of 90 days after they were first deleted.

    You can supplement the service in order to remain compliant – there are additional MS products available for data retention compliance such as Litigation Hold, but for E1 users it attracts significant additional per-user/per-month costs.

    Migrating to Office / Sharepoint 365

    E1 software Licensing does not include Desktop Software The E1 product does not include machine licenses, so unless users will either need to purchase the software separately or use the web-based versions. Some of our users however have reported that Office Online (the version that run in a web browser) is lacking in performance and unproductive for them to work with on a daily basis. Although Application performance will be influenced by their available bandwidth usability will also be subject to variations in the load on hosting Microsoft Servers. This load can be high at times.

    Last but not least, Windows Desktops are the target OS for Sharepoint users, so users of Mac or Linux will find there are some extra steps involved to using Sharepoint.

    Need help?

    COMM-TECH offer migration and support packages and budget solutions to many of these limitations including the lack of backup and retention.