Litigation Hold versus In-Place Hold in Exchange Online


Tim Tetrick

I frequently get questions about the compliance archiving capabilities available in Exchange Online and Office 365.  One area that causes a lot of confusion is around Litigation Hold versus In-Place HoldIs Litigation Hold the same as In-Place Hold? If not, then when and why would I choose to use one versus the other? Is Litigation Hold going away in favor of In-Place Hold?

First, a little background…  In Exchange 2010 and Exchange Online (pre-service upgrade) , Litigation Hold was introduced to allow customers to immutably preserve mailbox content to meet long term preservation and eDiscovery requirements. When a mailbox was placed on Litigation Hold, mailbox content was preserved indefinitely.

In Exchange 2013 and the new Exchange Online, In-Place Hold was introduced which allowed more flexibility in preserving your data.  It allowed you to preserve items matching your query parameters, known as a query-based In-Place Hold, preserve items for a specified period, known as a time-based In-Place Hold, and also preserve everything indefinitely, which emulated the Litigation Hold feature.

After the release of Exchange 2013 and the new Exchange Online, there were initial references in the documentation and in the product itself that Litigation Hold was being deprecated, and included recommendations to use In-Place Hold instead, which added to the confusion.

I want to clarify that Litigation Hold is not being deprecated, and the references to that have been cleaned up in the product and in the documentation.  Both types are available for use and you should use the hold feature that best meets your needs.  Here are some scenarios to help you choose between the two holds.


For more information, see the Exchange Online Service Description under “In-Place Hold and Litigation Hold”.

There is also a great blog post that goes into more detail on this topic at Litigation Hold and In-Place Hold in Exchange 2013 and Exchange Online.