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Storage Management

Top 10 Tips to Optimize Your Microsoft 365 Storage

As Microsoft transitions from unlimited storage for education customers to a maximum of 100TB of free storage across OneDrive, SharePoint, and Exchange, here are 10 ways to manage your storage more efficiently and keep storage costs in check.

Last fall, Microsoft announced major changes in storage offerings for its education plans. The company stated it would transition from offering unlimited storage to providing 100TB of free storage across OneDrive, SharePoint, and Exchange for all educational tenants. This change, which was announced August 1, 2023, was a big shock to the system for many higher education institutions that historically relied on unlimited storage.

Like every other industry in our post-COVID world, education has experienced a surge in remote learning and digital collaboration. This has led to an overwhelming proliferation of stored data, creating many challenges for education institutions needing to manage this mounting data securely. Effective data management is not only crucial to prevent security risks but also to control storage costs as storage limits come into effect in 2024.

While challenging, it is possible for institutions to successfully navigate these new limitations with effective guidelines and governance around Microsoft 365 storage. The tips below ensure efficient storage management for students, faculty, staff, and alumni, from identifying inactive users to automating workflows.

1) Identify inactive users, groups, and sites IT can target for cleanup and removal. This frees up precious space, reallocating the storage for more effective use.

2) Identify orphaned OneDrives for cleanup. Graduates, retirees, and former employees will often leave OneDrives behind when they leave the institution. Finding these orphaned OneDrives to clean up can help lower storage costs as well as security and compliance problems with the large fluctuations in active users that occur each academic year.

3) Use playbooks and automated workflows to support the rollout of new storage policies. Improve your Microsoft 365 storage governance and free up your institution's central IT staff time with tools that provide automated workflows and playbooks — even better if they can be customized to your school's policies.

4) Delegate tasks needed to investigate and remediate storage issues before your new licensing takes effect while maintaining security. The average cost of a data breach in education is nearly $4 million. Proactive remediation of storage issues can help you prevent security issues before they happen.

5) Report on how often SharePoint sites are utilized, identifying sites that could be archived. When SharePoint sites are not used, they eat up important storage space. Tools that provide continuous reporting give companies the visibility needed to archive without constituent issues.

6) Use Virtual Tenants and granular permissions to delegate administration with only the necessary access needed. With tenant permission tools, you can keep storage expenditures under control and eliminate the danger of assigning tasks across departments and campuses to investigate and address storage issues while maintaining full oversight of your environment.

7) Monitor and enforce policies with automated governance, reducing your risk of unexpected storage costs and freeing up IT staff time. With constant monitoring and automated governance, you can avoid expensive surprises and best utilize scarce IT resources.

8) Update licenses to "right size" user storage. Budget balance, budget control, and vendor and cost management are key objectives for many institutions in 2024. Having licenses with the right size of user management is critical to a balanced budget.

9) Update and enforce Exchange storage policies. It is imperative that Exchange storage rules for students, faculty, staff, alumni, and retirees be updated and continually enforced in accordance with the new Microsoft storage policies.

10) Identify old/unused/former student and employee mailboxes. Determine which mailboxes belong to former employees and students and move them to kinds that don't count against the storage quota.

Educational institutions face many technology challenges, but managing storage does not have to be one of them. Following the above 10 tips will prevent storage issues while maintaining security and reducing unexpected costs. Strategic storage practices unlock your environment's full potential and help you provide the best experiences for students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

About the Author

Robert Edmondson is senior director at CoreView.

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