Fix: can’t delete OWA mailbox or calendar items

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Microsoft’s email and calendar services are very reliable, helping millions of users to organize their professional life. Since Outlook and Calendar are very important tools, any bugs affecting them needs to be solved as soon as possible.

OWA users often can’t delete items from their mailbox, be it emails or calendar items. When this happens, an error message appears on the screen, informing users about the cause of the bug:

  • Remote Server returned ‘554 5.2.0 STOREDRV.Deliver.Exception:QuotaExceededException.MapiExceptionShutoffQuotaExceeded
  • Task ‘user@xyz.com’ reported error (0x8004060C): ‘The message store has reached its maximum size. To reduce the amount of data in this message store, select some items that you no longer need, and permanently (SHIFT + DEL) delete them.’

Of course, there are many other error messages that can appear on the screen, apart from the two listed above. Fortunately, there’s a quick workaround you can use to solve this problem.

Fix: OWA email and calendar items won’t delete

1. Check if the mailbox is placed on Litigation Hold or is part of an In-Place Hold Search. In this case, the deleted items are put on hold and are not purged from the mailbox.

Get-Mailbox <affected_user’s_mailbox> |FL Name,LitigationHoldEnabled,LitigationHoldDate,LitigationHoldOwner,LitigationHoldDuration,InPlaceHolds

2. Check in PowerShell if the TotalDeletedItemSize is near or has reached the maximum amout of 100 GB.
Get-MailboxStatistics <affected user’s mailbox> | FL Name,DeletedItemCount,ItemCount,TotalDeletedItemSize,TotalItemSize

In Exchange Online, there is a soft limit of 20 GB and a hard limit of 30 GB for the Recoverable Items quota. The quota for the Recoverable Items folder is automatically increased to 90 GB and 100 GB, respectively, when a mailbox is placed on Litigation Hold or In-Place Hold. Then all items are held indefinitely or until the holds are removed. In-Place Hold and Litigation Hold uses the Recoverable Items folder to preserve items.

3. Remove HOLD from the mailbox and delete unnecessary items. Microsoft recommends to use this method with care because the mailbox items were put on Hold for a reason. This option will purge the deleted emails and valuable data will be lost.

4. Enable online archive. In this manner, the old emails will be moved automatically from the mailbox to the archive.

For more information about the connection between Litigation Hold and OWA emails, check out the latest Microsoft TechNet post.

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