Think Office 365 is a Maintenance-Free Environment? Not So Fast …

Guest Post by Chris Pyle, Champion Solutions Group

So you’ve made the move to Office 365. Great!

You think you’ve gone from worrying about procuring exchange hardware and storage capacity, being concerned about email recovery plans, and having to keep up with the constant maintenance of your exchange server farm and the backing up your data, to relying on Office 365 to provide virtually anywhere-access to Microsoft tools.

Sounds pretty good, and we won’t blame you if you’re thinking that your move to the cloud has just afforded you a maintenance-free environment, but not so fast.

While the cost-savings and convenience it may seem like a no-brainer, what many administrators often forget is that the cloud itself doesn’t make email management any easier – there are still a ton of tasks that need to be done to ensure usability and security.

Indeed while moving mailboxes to the cloud may be efficient and provide cost savings, it doesn’t mean administration ends there. Not by any means.

Not to worry, for starters Office 365 admins looking for a faster and easier way to handle mail administration tasks have a number of tools at their disposal, such as our 365 Command by MessageOps. 365Command replaces the command line interface of Windows® PowerShell with a rich, HTML5 graphical user interface that is easy to navigate and makes quick work of changing mailbox settings, monitoring usage and reporting (and did we say you don’t need to know PowerShell?).

From our users who manage about 1 million mail boxes we see the most effective 365 administrators break down maintenance and tasks into daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly buckets. Breaking down tasks this way simplifies work-flow, and the best part is that this can be easily implemented into your routine and should heighten the value and success utilizing Office 365.

Here are best practices for getting started:

Daily: Mailbox Administrators are constantly responding to any addition, change, and removal requests for their Office365 accounts. The most common are daily tasks that are quickly resolved, for example “forgot my password”, “need access to folder X”, “executive Y is on maternity leave, can you forward her files”, and so on:

  1. Modifying Passwords

  2. Modifying Folder Permissions

  3. Mailbox Forwarding

  4. Creating Single and Shared Mailboxes

Weekly: Weekly task groupings are geared toward helping Administrators keep a watchful eye on growth and scalability, security, speed and access. For example, checking for new devices that are being added to mailboxes, comparing them from previous weeks, and verifying that the user did indeed add a new device, and not incurring a potential risk of theft or fraud:

  1. Review Top Mailbox Growth by Size

  2. Review Office 365 Audit Logs

  3. Review Mobile Security

  4. Review Shared Mailbox Growth- (shared mailboxes only have 10GB limit!)

  5. Review the exact location of their servers and their mailboxes within the Microsoft data centers

Monthly: OK, now you’re cooking with gasoline — with those annoying daily tasks and cumbersome weekly tasks out of the way, top-level Administrators turn their full attention to security and access, which we can never have a lapse in attention:

  1. They run reports and lists of all users last login date. They are checking for people who may no longer be employed with the company, thus eliminating the need for that mailbox and its associated cost from Microsoft. Or if there is limited use, they could move the end user to a less expensive Office 365 SKU, again reducing their overall O365 costs.

  2. From a security standpoint, they are running reports to see who is forwarding their mailboxes to external mailboxes, such as sending their email to their home email account (Gmail/Yahoo/ Hotmail, etc.)

  3. Review password strength and the passwords that are set to expire on a monthly basis, ensuring their mailboxes are safe and secure.

  4. Review mailbox permissions, and review who has Send As privileges in their organization. They are confirming with the end user that they allowed these people to have the ability to send email as them.

  5. Review which employees have Full Mailbox access privileges. They confirm with the end user that they do want those additional users to have full access to their mail and calendar.

Quarterly: See how easy this is now? You’ve cleared out the clutter, and made sure every box on the system is secure. You’ve taken the steps to keep the system running fast and true, with consistent access and performance across the enterprise. Now kick back, light a fat stogie and do some light clean up and maintenance:

  1. Group Clean Up, review all email groups to ensure they have active members, as well as review which groups have people in them that are no longer employed, or contractors that are no longer involved, which groups aren’t being utilized, etc.

  2. Review the Edit Permissions list.

  3. Review Non Password changes in 90 days.


Just because you’ve moved to the cloud it doesn’t mean management and maintenance of your mail boxes stops there. Many of these best-practices would require the knowledge of PowerShell, but who wants to deal with that? Save yourself lots of trouble and find a tool that will manage these activities, streamline your work-flow and jump-start your productivity.

Chris Pyle headshot

Christopher Pyle is President & CEO for Champion Solutions Group. He is also an active member of Vistage International, an executive leadership organization, and is a Distinguished Guest Lecturer at Florida Atlantic University’s Executive Forum Lecture Series.