Backup Unlicensed Office 365 Accounts with CloudAlly

Are you maintaining inactive Office 365 licenses to avoid losing data? Is the cost of maintaining licenses to adhere to data retention policies rising as your organization scales? Paying for inactive Office 365 licenses to prevent loss of data during employee onboarding/offboarding can eat into your budget, with no measurable ROI. 

Explore ways to backup unlicensed Office 365 accounts to simplify employee management, save on license costs and meet compliance requirements. 

The High Price of Inactive Office 365 Accounts

An active Office 365 license is required for Office 365 data to be stored and accessible. This means that when an employee leaves the organization, the license gets revoked and access stopped. This can be challenging for the modern organization which has a chunk of licenses that are used on an ad-hoc or rotational basis; such as those belonging to vendors, part-time employees, and/or ex-employees. The data held within these accounts is not only valuable but also helpful to onboard the employee, vendor or contractor filling the position. 

The catch is this – Office 365 permanently deletes the data held by inactive licenses after 30 days. Preserving the business-critical data within the unused accounts means paying for the licenses. Audit requirements also typically mandate a minimum data retention period for non-active accounts. This makes it all the more essential to maintain the inactive licenses to meet compliance measures. All while incurring significant licensing expenses.

Litigation Hold is Not a Workaround

What about Microsoft’s Litigation hold? Using Litigation hold to export data and then perform a cross-user restore of emails and data is non-intuitive and complex. This is because litigation hold is not meant to be a recovery tool; particularly to restore emails and user accounts. While the data can be exported, recovery is a manual process, and there is no direct restore option. Litigation hold also does not maintain a separate copy of data in another physical location, making it susceptible to data and security breaches.  

This makes it an unviable and cumbersome option to depend on for onboarding/offboarding employee data transfer, meeting compliance requirements and quickly recovering emails, accounts, or documents.

How CloudAlly Can Help

SaaS Backup is an easy, cost-effective, and secure option to save on the expense of maintaining inactive Office 365 licenses while avoiding data loss. Back up inactive account data, relinquish the license and restore it to the new user/licensed account when required. More significantly, SaaS backup is the only sure way to protect your organization from Office 365 data loss due to human error, malicious intent, malware attacks, and sync errors.

CloudAlly pioneered Office 365 SaaS backup almost a decade ago, and consequently, our products are tested, proven, and top-rated. Newsweek recently ranked us as a leading backup solution provider. Our Office 365 Backup includes support to activate Office 365 account backups that have their status as “Unlicensed”. These can be new accounts or group accounts created by the Office 365 system itself. With the account data backed up, you can release the license knowing that the data can be securely restored to the new user’s account when required. Thus ensuring the smooth transfer of all relevant data from the employees, vendors or contractors who are exiting with the newly joined ones; while saving on licensing costs. Secure and cost-effective backup and recovery that’s geared for the enterprise.

Protect your valuable Office 365 data, skip the stress of complying with data retention, and save on the high costs of Office 365 licenses with CloudAlly. Try a free trial or book a quick demo now!

How to Restore a Deleted Office 365 Group using PowerShell?

By Eddie Pinchasov – Product Director

MS Office 365 is witnessing massive adoption – one in five corporate employees use it.  A big reason behind it is its efficient collaboration mechanisms such as Teams, OneDrive, and SharePoint. A rather understated, but similarly powerful collaboration tool is Groups. In fact, Groups drives all teamwork across Office 365 – groups allow your employees to easily share and collaboratively work on documents, planners, roadmaps, calendars, etc. So what do you do when a Group is inadvertently deleted? How can you restore a deleted Office 365 Group, and ensure business continuity?

How to Restore a Deleted Office 365 Group using PowerShell ?

Step-by-step pointers below:

Consider that you have a SharePoint group MarketingO365

How to Restore a Deleted Office 365 Group using PowerShell

This group is used to grant permissions to members of Marketing O365 Members to a team site with important marketing data

Restore Office 365 Deleted Groups

Uh-oh! Someone accidentally deletes the group. How do you restore the group? Either by using the Exchange admin center or by using PowerShell. Here we will detail how to restore a group using PowerShell. Note that you must have Office 365 global administrator permissions or be a former owner of the deleted Office 365 group.

Step #1 Install the latest PowerShell version

For starters, it is mandatory to install the latest preview version of Azure Active Directory PowerShell for Graph. To do that, open Windows PowerShell as an Administrator 

Open Windows PowerShell as an Administrator

Review installed modules using the command:

Get-InstalledModule -Name "AzureAD*"

If you have not installed the Azure PowerShell then you will get this message:

If you have not installed the Azure PowerShell then you will get this message


If you have an older version of AzureAD PowerShell it is better to uninstall it and then install the new version.

To uninstall AzureAD run the command:

Uninstall-Module AzureADPreview


Uninstall-Module AzureAD

To install the Azure PowerShell run the command

Install-Module AzureADPreview

Install the Azure PowerShell

Input Y to confirm install from an untrusted source.

Wait for the module to install

Wait for the module to install

Step #2 Restore a deleted  Office 365 Group

Open the Windows PowerShell you’ve just installed with Administrator privileges

Open the Windows PowerShell you’ve just installed with Administrator privileges

Run the command:

Import-Module AzureADPreview

Run the command: Import-Module AzureADPreview

Then connect to your Office 365 tenant


You will be asked to enter your Office 365 administrator account details

Enter your Office 365 administrator account details

You will then receive a message with the connection details

You will then receive a message with the connection details

To get a list of deleted groups run the command

Run the command Get-AzureADMSDeletedGroup

Enter the group ID you wish to restore:

Restore-AzureADMSDeletedDirectoryObject -Id <objectId>

Enter the group ID you wish to restore:

And voila! The group will be accessible in the Office 365 admin center and on SharePoint

Restored Office 365 group

For further information, see the Microsoft help center. Note, that restoring the group will restore all related objects:

  • Azure Active Directory (AD) Office 365 groups object properties and members
  • Group e-mail
  • Common Exchange Inbox
  • SharePoint Online team site and files
  • OneNote notebook
  • Planner
  • Teams
  • Yammer group and group content (If the Office 365 group was created from Yammer)

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Only Office 365 groups can be restored; security groups are permanently deleted and cannot be restored. A quick tip: even with planned group deletions, use the Remove-AzureADMSGroup command to soft delete Office 365 groups. However, even a soft-deleted group is stored only for 30 days, after this period the group is deleted permanently. 

A deleted group can cause considerable disturbance to your business processes and workflows. The same holds true for deleted emails, OneDrive files, SharePoint sites, etc. Apart from accidental or malicious deletion, you can also suffer Office 365 data loss due to malware attacks that are getting more ingenious and malicious by the day.

As the IT Admin, the onus for protecting the data rests with you. Mitigate the risk of a data breach with a dependable Office 365 backup and recovery solution – the most efficient way to recover data quickly and seamlessly.

How CloudAlly can help

CloudAlly’s Office 365 Groups backup and recovery solution, comprehensively backs up Office 365 Mail, Calendar, Contacts, and Tasks. Blunt the risk of data loss and facilitate easy self-service recovery with CloudAlly’s top-rated SaaS backup that was named by Newsweek as one of the Best Business Tools of 2019.

Try our full-featured trial now and ensure that your organization is protected from Office 365 data loss.