IT ServicesStaff

Office 365

Shared Mailbox Service


Shared Mailbox Service FAQ

Introduction to the Shared Mailbox Service

With the move of Staff Email to Office 365, IT Services became aware of some underlying changes causing problems with administration and/or usage of the Staff Mail Archive (SMA). After some detailed investigation it became evident that the problems were not able to be resolved; the outcome of this is that the SMA is to be decommissioned via the development of a new Shared Mailbox service.

The Shared Mailbox Service has more uses than simply a replacement for the SMA, however. It is intended to be used in a way analogous to the Group Workspace Service, allowing groups of users to have access to a shared mailbox (including Calendar, Contacts etc). Examples of use include:

  • Departmental roles - Finance, Admissions, Administrative Support etc
  • Research groups
  • Cross-departmental collaboration

Access to each Shared Mailbox is controlled by group membership (analogous to Group Workspaces). Each Shared Mailbox, when created, has an assigned Managers group, members of which can control membership of that group plus the corresponding Read-Only and Read-Write groups.

Members of the Read-Only group can read items within the Shared Mailbox.

Members of the Read-Write group can read, delete, create and send emails/calendar items/contacts and so on from the Shared Mailbox.

Retention Policies can be assigned to each Shared Mailbox. A set of standard policies are defined which can be applied on a folder-by-folder basis (excepting the "standard" folders such as Inbox, Deleted Items etc. which are centrally defined).

Requesting a Shared Mailbox

To request a Shared Mailbox

  • Log in to vFire Self Service portal

Sending/receiving email

Shared mailboxes are exactly that - mailboxes. They can be used to both receive and send email.

Groups are used to control access to the mailboxes, but they do not restrict the people who can send to these mailboxes.

As such it is worth remembering that *anyone* - including external senders - can send messages to these mailboxes.

Retention Policies

Retention Policies are used to automatically delete email stored in mailbox folders.

By default, no Retention Policy is applied. Staff in a shared mailbox's Read-Write group can assign Retention Policies to folders (and subfolders) in a mailbox according to a standardised set:

  • 1 week
  • 6 months
  • 1 year
  • 2 years
  • 5 years
  • 7 years

Note however that the application of a Retention Policy does not prevent purposeful deletions (nor accidental!) by an individual with appropriate permissions - that is, a member of the mailbox's Read-Write group.

Information on how to assign retention policies can be found here.

Adding Shared Mailboxes to Outlook

This type of Shared Mailbox needs to be added to Outlook manually - it will not (and cannot be made to) automap unlike other types of account, so it will not appear automatically in the folder tree in the left hand sidebar in Outlook.

To add a Shared Mailbox to Outlook, assuming you have permission to do so, follow the instructions for Setting up Additional Accounts.

How do I delete a Shared Mailbox? What can I do if I need one restoring?

To delete a Shared Mailbox once it has reached the end of its useful life (and you're sure you've archived the important items within it somewhere else!), simply send an email to the IT Service Desk requesting the deletion.

If you've done just that, and desperately need the mailbox reinstating because there's still something in the mailbox that's required, please send an email to the IT Service Desk asking for it to be recovered. Please note: there is a 28 day limit to carry out this recovery after deletion. Once this period has passed, mailboxes cannot be recovered.

Shared Mailbox Retention Policy

In line with the University Information Governance policies and general good email practice the following policy for the management of the Shared Mailbox service has been approved.
An automated system will scan the Shared and Role mailboxes once per month and apply the following policy:


Date mailbox last accessed or emailed. Policy Action taken. User action to prevention deletion
Greater than 93 days (~3 months) ago. Email all mailbox users informing them that mailbox access will be revoked in 31 days if is not used. Access or email the mailbox.
Greater than 124 days (~4 months) ago. Revoke all mailbox access and inform all mailbox users.

Request access to the mailbox is restored.

Access or email the mailbox.
Greater than 334 days (~11 months) Inform all mailbox users than it will be deleted in a month.

Request access to the mailbox is restored.

Access or email the mailbox.
Greater than 365 days (~12 months) ago Delete mailbox and all associated groups and inform all mailbox users. Request recovery within 30 days of deletion.


The Shared Mailbox service should not be used as a solution for the storage of information which you are required to retain for legal compliance. service. As emails may contain Personally Identifiable Information (PII), these should only be stored for as long as required for the purpose it was intended for. Regular housekeeping of the Shared Mailbox should take place to remove data/information which is no longer needed.

Consideration should be given to the information being stored by the Shared Mailbox

The following categories of information should not be stored: <> 

· Highly Confidential (NHS (medical) data, Export Control data, data covered under the Official Secrets Act)