Thursday, December 07, 2023
Home » Office 365 » What is eDiscovery in Office 365? Step By Step Explained

What is eDiscovery in Office 365? Step By Step Explained

Written By Mohit Jha
Mack John
Approved By Mack John  
Published On October 27th, 2022
Reading Time 5 Minutes Reading

Stay tuned till the end of the technical write-up to find out what is eDiscovery in Office 365. And learn more about types of eDiscovery and their usage.

If you remember the old times then Microsoft Office was limited to only doc files, excel sheets, etc. But, with time it has evolved and now it’s popular among many enterprises. Microsoft Office 365 is a subscription-based service used by one in five corporate employees on daily basis. Not just business users many individuals also use this product suite for personal use.

However, Microsoft 365 for business is loaded with advanced tools such as Outlook, Exchange, Microsoft Teams, OneDrive, Yammer, etc.

But, why are we discussing so much about Microsoft 365(Office 365)? Well, it’s simple. Most of the discoverable information today lives in Microsoft 365 apps. And with the wide range of data sources available in their ecosystem, Office 365 data can come in a never-ending list of file types, from the traditional .doc and .xls formats, to chat data in Teams.

Further, if there is a need arises to tackle the legal and compliance challenges presented by all the discoverable data generated in Office 365 apps and services, Microsoft has its own Office 365 eDiscovery tool.

So, what’s this eDiscovery? Let’s have a look at the same.

Brief Introduction of eDiscovery in Office 365

eDiscovery is the process of identifying and delivering electronic information that can be used as digital evidence in legal cases. Also, eDiscovery is used in Office 365 to search for content in Exchange Online mailboxes, Office 365 groups, Microsoft Teams, and SharePoint Online sites. 

In the Exchange admin center, you can use In-place eDiscovery to search mailboxes. And, if you need to search mailboxes and sites in the same eDiscovery search. Then you can use the content search in the Office 365 security and compliance center. In either case, you can identify, hold, and export content found in mailboxes and sites.

Now, let’s explore more about eDiscovery in Office 365.

Know The 3 eDiscovery Solutions in Office 365

The eDiscovery features that you can access, vary according to your subscription plan and the role you’re assigned.

The three solutions are;

#1 Content Search

As the name of the tool suggests, Content Search allows you to run search queries (simple or advanced) to find relevant content across all your Microsoft apps. Then, export the results to your device. It also allows you to view statistics of the estimated search results such as the number of items matching your search criteria and the top locations.

You can only access Office 365 eDiscovery if you have subscription plans for Microsoft 365 E1, Microsoft 365 G1, and Office 365 Education A1.

#2 Core eDiscovery

With the help of Core eDiscovery, you can link searches and exports performed with Content Search to a specific case. Then, share your project or case with specific users. It also lets you place & manages a legal hold on any relevant content locations for a particular case.

Users with Microsoft 365 E3, Microsoft 365 G3, and Microsoft 365 Education A3 or Office 365 Education A3 subscription plans can access this feature.

#3 Advanced eDiscovery

Last but not least, the most sophisticated of all three, Advanced eDiscovery amplifies the discovery tools provided in Core Discovery. This includes more robust legal hold and custodian management workflows, collection, and processing capabilities like email threading, near-duplicate detection, or OCR. It also supports review features such as search, filter, and tag, and even some machine learning and predictive coding capabilities.

Advanced Discovery is available on the highest tier (quite an expensive plan)Enterprise plan, Microsoft 365 E5, and through specific eDiscovery and compliance add-ons on the E3 plan.

Also Read: How to Migrate On-Premise Exchange 2013 Mailboxes to Office 365?

How to Get Started with eDiscovery in Office 365?

As an IT admin or eDiscovery manager, before using eDiscovery to search, export, and preserve content, there are certain pre-requisite tasks you have to complete. They are;

  • Verify and assign appropriate licenses.
  • Assign eDiscovery permissions(providing eDiscovery Manager role group)

Next, to get started using the discovery tool, let’s understand the eDiscovery workflow.

The workflow is simple and can be carried out in three steps.

  1. Search for Content: search the content locations or you can also search other content locations for data that may be relevant to the case.
  2. Export and download search results: Exporting data is a two-step process, first, export the results of a search in the case out of Office 365. Then, use the eDiscovery Export tool to download the content to a local computer.

Let’s move toward a serious discussion.

eDiscovery in Office 365: Beneficial or Not?

Well, to break the truth to you, unless your discovery needs are basic(which is rare these days), relying on Microsoft 365 as your main eDiscovery tool is not a great option.

So, you may say that eDiscovery is not that beneficial and besides, it has certain limitations. Such as;

  • The number of searches you can run at once has limitations.
  • The search engine is usually slow and not centralized in one single module. It signifies that you usually need to search in multiple different places within the MS 365 ecosystem.
  • You must have been assigned a dedicated role to access the eDiscovery tool.
  • Further, you’ll need to use Microsoft’s own search query syntax and rules and you might have to learn the same if you don’t know it otherwise.


Microsoft 365 is a powerful business suite to preserve and manage data. However, the in-house eDiscovery process lacks in many aspects and produces unwanted technical errors while archiving Office 365 mailbox online manually

Hence, you can use trustworthy software like SysTools Office 365 Export Tool, so that you can easily export required data to tackle legal and compliance challenges.