Section 1: Where is my Email

Where is my email stored?

When Email files (including any attachments) are stored externally, they will exist on third party servers off Western's campus.

How is the data protected?

Microsoft has numerous privacy and security features designed to protect you and your data.  Microsoft will only use your data to provide the approved services to you.  This may include troubleshooting aimed at preventing, detecting, and repairing problems affecting the operation of the services and the improvement of features such as malware or spam detection.   For more information, Western's Privacy Impact Assessment for Office 365 can be found in the Privacy Impact Document.

Can an Email I sent really live indefinitely?

Yes! Emails sent to and from a Western Email account can have a very long life. Email messages can be copied, forwarded to other Email accounts (hotmail, yahoo, gmail), and stored. Email messages are just kept in files and files themselves can be copied, sent to others and stored on multiple systems and moved to a new system. The messages and files can remain in existence for many, many years.

Where would the Email I created exist and will I always have access to it?

Obviously the recipient of the Email now has the ability to copy, forward, and save the message as they see fit.  You do not have control over ‘your’ message once it has been sent.  If the message was sent from your Western account, by default, a copy is also kept in your ‘Sent’ mail folder in addition to the copy sent to the intended recipient(s).  The copy in your Sent folder will exist until you delete it from your account (and purge your deleted messages or Trash folder), and then still recoverable for up to 30 days after the message's deletion.  Afterwards, Western cannot retrive the message for you.  However, the message you sent is now in the recipient’s mail box and he/she can forward it to others or store it on another computer.

What about the Email I receive? Do I have total control over that?

You have the ability to reply, forward, copy, and save, all of which are making more copies to look after, each of which has its own lifespan.  Even if you did not make copies, and deleted the message, it can still be around longer than you think.

Will messages that I have deleted exist in the backups?

Possibly. If it has been less than 30 days since you deleted a message from your Deleted Items folder that you wish to retrive, you can right-click on your Deleted Items folder and select "Recover Deleted Items."  Then, click the message you are looking for and click Recover in the bottom corner.  Otherwise, if it has been more than 30 days since you deleted the message, it may still exist on Microsoft's third-party storage service and Western cannot retrive it for it for you.  It is important you think carefully about every email you delete as you have over 50 gigabytes of storage space through Office 365.  

Are there other places that my Email message could be?

Yes. There are many other locations where Emails could be stored and continue to exist.

  • A Western member may store mail locally on their PC and so it would exist as long as the data on that PC is accessible. If the user's PC fails and has to be wiped clean and have all applications re-installed, often the data stored on it is not recoverable.
  • A Western member may also store Email in local folders within the Microsoft external storage services.  This is often referred to as "in the cloud" or "shared service model".  
  • A user may download their Email and store it to a portable device such as a USB key or portable drive.
  • If a user is forwarding their Email to another account ( for example) the message will exist on another server with its own rules of retention.

Consider that your Email could very easily live indefinitely.

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