Is OneDrive data preserved on unlicenced accounts?

Contrary to what you may have imagined, you possess some control over the preservation of unlicensed account data. How you go about influencing how OneDrive handles unlicenced accounts is akin to how you handle licensed accounts. In simpler words, OneDrive preserves unlicensed accounts the same way it preserves your licensed accounts.

Unlicenced account data is preserved for 30 days by OneDrive. After, OneDrive will delete your data. At this time, a global admin or SharePoint admin can restore the data from a SharePoint recycle bin — however, you must do this within 93 days before the data is irreversibly removed. However, you must have stored the data on SharePoint for this to occur.

Within this post, I’ll be further elaborating on what happens to your unlicensed account’s data — should it have been deleted or not had its license renewed. In addition to this, I’ll also be letting you know which aspects are within your control.

What happens to a OneDrive account’s data when its licence is lost

When you first revoke an account’s license, OneDrive holds its data for an initial thirty-day period. At this time, the data can be made available once more by reapplying the license or having a global admin restore the data manually. If you do not in some way restore the account’s data within the allocated time, you will find your data deleted. Your data will now remain within a SharePoint recycle bin for 93 days- though both global and SharePoint admins can restore it. Unfortunately, you will lose your data if you fail to restore the data within the 93-day period.

While pending deletion from OneDrive, an account’s data is accessible to “owner-level” delegate accounts. Once OneDrive sends the data to a recycle bin, delegate access is no longer maintained unless you or an admin restore the account.

Deleting a Microsoft 365 account versus revoking its license

Functionally, deleting an account is equal to revoking its license in the sense that a deleted account no longer bears a license. The most notable difference is that, unlike a deleted account, you can still use an unlicensed account to some extent.

Which parts of the process can I control?


Through Microsoft 365’s retention policies, you can configure the data preservation period for “deleted” data. Of course, such changes are not possible for a regular account — you will require a global admin account to make such changes.

What do I control in OneDrive?

By default, OneDrive’s retention policy allows you to preserve deleted OneDrive data for 30 days. However, we can modify this value. While 30 days is the minimum amount, you can increase the period to up to 3650 days.

Can I control anything in SharePoint?

Unfortunately, once removed from OneDrive, you can only hold your data in a recycle bin for 93 days. At this time, you cannot extend this period. Though, this shouldn’t be necessary considering the length of the said period. If you were desperate to extend the period artificially, you could restore the file and delete it once more.

Recap & Farewell


Although OneDrive preservers unlicensed accounts and licensed accounts in the same way- many still ponder how it works. First, OneDrive holds the account and its data for 30 days. After this period, OneDrive deletes the data and moves it to a SharePoint recycle bin for 93 days. A global admin or SharePoint admin can restore the data at both points. However, while some delegates can access the account during the initial period, they cannot access the account or its data once in the recycle bin. Similarly, while you can extend the 30-day initial period to up to 3650 days, the secondary preservation period of 93 days is immutable.


Thanks for reading this far; I hope this post was as comprehensive and helpful as intended. Furthermore, if you’ve been using Microsoft 365 for a while or plan to, I believe the rest of our site may be of use to you. Our content is oriented around providing solutions for various problems Microsoft 365 users encounter- we rarely fail to find an answer.

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Jack Mitchell

Jack Mitchell has been the Operations manager at telecoms and MSP Optionbox for more than 4 years. He has played a crucial role in the company, from marketing to helpdesk, and ensures that the IT requirements of over 300 clients are continuously met. With his innate passion for technology and troubleshooting and a particular interest in Apple products, Jack now delivers the most comprehensive tech guides to make your life easier. You can connect with Jack on LinkedIn.

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