How to protect my data when an employee leaves my organization?

CEO’s and managers often wonder ‘’How to protect my data when an employee leaves my organization?’’. 

There are certain steps you can take to be prepared when the time comes. Using robust employee agreements, backing up data, and ensuring steps are in place to return any confidential information are some good examples. However, there are other measures you can do yourself from the admin center in Microsoft 365.  

Here is how to remove a former employee from Microsoft 365, and other steps you can take to take care of your data. 

*Note: You need to be a global administrator to be able to do these actions.

Block access to Microsoft 365 services 

The first and fastest step to take is to change their password and force a sign out for their user, you can do this from the Admin Center > Users > Active Users > Reset Password (don’t forget not to send the new one to them) 


  • This has an immediate effect. If they’re using Outlook Online, as soon as they refresh the page, they won’t have access.
  • Within an hour or as soon as they leave the current Microsoft 365 page, they’re in, they’re prompted to sign in again.

From the Admin Center, again go to Users > Active users. Once you’re here, select the former employee’s name that you want to block, then select the symbol for Block this user and Block the user from signing in, lastly click Save. 

This process can take up to 24 hours to take effect, so if you need immediate measures, follow the steps at the beginning of this article. 

Save the content of a former employee’s mailbox 

Saving a former employees mailbox can be helpful for the person who is going to take their place, as well as in case of litigation. 

There are two ways you can do this. Either by turning it into an Inactive Mailbox or adding it to your Outlook web app to export the data to a .pst file. 

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Forward former employee’s email to another employee, or convert to a shared mailbox 

You can also keep the email address active but redirect it to another employee’s account. If customers, providers or partners are still sending information to this address, you or the new person in charge of this position will receive those emails. This way, there’s no lost data or unfinished processes. 

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Give another employee access to OneDrive and Outlook data 

Once you’ve removed a user’s license, and even 30 days after deleting the account, you can access the former user’s OneDrive data. You can keep it or give it to another employee.  

To preserve a former user’s One Drive data, go to the Admin Center > Users > Active Users, then select the user and in the right pane select One Drive. Click on Get access to files and select Create link to files. 

Lastly, click the link to open the file location, then you can download the data to your computer or move it to another OneDrive. 

Here’s a more detailed tutorial on how to give another employee access to OneDrive and Outlook data. 

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Wipe and block a former employee’s mobile device 

You can block a mobile device using the Exchange Admin Center. Go to Recipients > Mailboxes, then select the user and click on Mobile Devices > View Details. Once in the details page, select the mobile device and click on Wipe Data, then Block the device and Save the changes. 

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Remove the Microsoft 365 license from a former employee 

To reduce your licensing cost, you can remove a former employee’s license to stop paying for it. Another option is to assign the license to another user. 

When a license is removed, you have 30 days to access the user’s data. After these 30 days, all data (except the SharePoint files) will be permanently deleted, and irrecoverable. 

  • To remove a user’s license:

From the Admin Center go to Users > Active Users, select the name of the employee you want to block, select the Licenses and Apps tab. Clear the checked boxes for the licenses you want to remove, then click Save changes. 

  • To stop paying for that license:

Admin Center > Billing > Your Products > Products tab. Once in this tab select the subscription from which you want to remove licenses.  

On the details page select Remove licenses, once in this pane, under New quantity click the Total licenses box. Change the total number of licenses you want for your subscription (if you had 21 before, then it would be 20, after subtracting the one that you deleted). Then Save. 

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If you want to read more detailed information or tutorials on how to remove a former employee, read this Microsoft document. 

If you have any questions or want help getting the most out of your IT services, contact us.