Microsoft Teams – Where is my data stored?

Teams where is my data stored

One of the most common questions I am asked is ‘Where is my Microsoft Teams data stored’?

Why is this? In short, Microsoft Teams is not an individual application, it is a productivity hub that utilises many applications and services across Microsoft 365. Therefore Teams stores data across multiple locations.

Why do I need to know where my data is stored?

For several reasons. Knowing where your data stored helps you address the following questions:

  1. Which geographic location is my Teams data stored?
  2. How can I govern Teams when I don’t know what is stored where?
  3. Can I control who has access to my Teams data?
  4. What information protection can I apply to my Teams data?
  5. Where do I need to apply retention policies?
  6. How to ensure my eDiscovery searches are scoped to include the right locations?

Let’s dig deeper into Microsoft Teams and see where your data is being stored.

Microsoft Teams and the dependant services

Microsoft Teams uses:

  • Azure Chat services to store the persistent chat records
  • Azure media services to mange images and videos
  • SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business to store files
  • Exchange Online to store the compliance records
  • Microsoft 365 Groups to provide the membership management
  • Streams to store meeting recordings. However from 1st March 2021 all meeting recordings will be stored in OneDrive and SharePoint. Note for Educational customers this will be 1 Jul 2021
  • In addition Teams provides access to other Microsoft 365 apps such as Forms, WhiteBoard, Planner and Power BI; these apps will store data in their own repositories
  • Finally Teams can also add in third party apps, bots, and connectors. In this scenario you will need to check what data is being shared with the third party

So What data is stored where?

The diagram below illustrates what data is being stored where. The rules are complex and depend on what activity you are undertaking in Teams.

I have deliberately excluded Microsoft, custom and 3rd party Apps that you can add into Teams because each app has its own privacy policy and terms of use. I recommend that you understand what data is being shred and stored before adding any app into Teams.

Where is my Teams One-to-one and Group Chat stored?

A One-to-One or Group Chat is started from the Chat menu. Users are added to the chat by searching for their name. In addition, if guest or federated access is enabled, then guests and federated users can also be added to the chat. However guests are unable to share files.

In this scenario the Users in the chats are the Owners of the data. The table below details the rules for ‘Where is my Teams One-to-one and Group Chat stored?

Data TypeOne to One and Group Chats
Persistent chat messages including adaptive card messages and voice memosAzure Chat Service
Chat inline images, emojis & stickersAzure Media Services (not SharePoint)
Chat GIFsURL to a third party service
Files sharedFile sharer’s OneDrive for Business; in the folder ‘Teams Chat files’
The default sharing permission is internal only. This means external users need to request access to the files
Chat message & adaptive card compliance record (for eDiscovery searches)DiscoveryHolds (Hidden folder) in Exchange Online mailboxes for all users in chat
1, 2, 3

Where are my Teams conversations and files stored?

Understanding where your data is stored in a Team will depend on whether you’re working in a standard or private channel.

In a standard channel all members in the Team, including guests, can access the conversations and files. In this scenario the owner of the conversations and files is the Group managing the Team.

However the rules for private channels are different. This is because a private channel in a Team is restricted to a subset of the members of the Team. Therefore access to the channel conversations and files content needs to be restricted to only the members in the private channel. In this scenario the owner of the conversations and files is NOT the Group managing the Team; the owners of the conversations are the users, and the owner of the files is the private channel.

In summary, the rules for ‘Where is my data stored?’ will change depending on whether you are using a standard or private channel. The table below details the rules for ‘Where are my Teams conversations and files stored?

Data TypeStandard ChannelPrivate Channel
Persistent chat messages and voice memosAzure Chat ServiceAzure Chat Service
Adaptive card messages in channel from appsAzure Chat ServiceN/A
Chat inline images, emojis & stickersAzure Media ServicesAzure Media Services
Chat GIFsThird party serviceThird party service
Files shared and storedTeam’s SharePoint site; in the Channel folder within the Document library
All members of the Team, including guests have access
Private Channel’s SharePoint site; in the private Channel folder within the Document library
Importantly the private channel SharePoint site permissions are restricted to just the members of the private channel.
Team WikiTeam’s SharePoint site; in the Channel folder within the Teams Wiki DataPrivate Channel’s SharePoint site; in the private Channel folder within the Teams Wiki Data
Email including attachments sent to channelTeam’s SharePoint site; in the Channel folder, within the Document library. Emails are stored in a separate folder for each month e.g. EmailMessages_2_2021Private Channel’s SharePoint site; in the private Channel folder, within the Document library. Emails are stored in a separate folder for each month e.g. EmailMessages_2_2021
Default Team OneNote NoteBookTeam’s SharePoint site; under Site Assets
N/A
Additional OneNote NoteBooks for channelsTeam’s SharePoint site; in the Channel folder within the Document libraryPrivate Channel’s SharePoint site; in the private Channel folder within the Document library
Channel conversation compliance record (for eDiscovery searches)Hidden folder in Exchange Online mailbox for the Group 1, 2Hidden folder in Exchange Online mailboxes for all members of the private channel 1
)Channel adaptive card compliance record (for eDiscovery searches)DiscoveryHolds (Hidden folder) in Exchange Online mailbox for the Group 1, 2N/A

Where is my Teams Meeting data stored?

There are three types of Teams meetings:

  1. Private Teams meetings are scheduled by a user so the user is the meeting organiser.
  2. Channel Teams meetings are scheduled from a channel in a Team so the Team is the meeting organiser.
  3. Private Channels only permit ‘Meet Now’ meetings. These are held in the private channel in a Team so the private channel is the meeting organiser.

The type of Teams meeting you are running will determine where your data is stored.

In summary, the rules for ‘Where is my data stored?’ will change depending on the type of meeting you are holding. The table below details the rules for ‘Where is my Teams conversations and files stored?

Data TypePrivate Meetings (Meet Now & scheduled)Channel Meetings (Meet Now & scheduled)Private Channel Meetings (Meet Now only)
Persistent chat messages and voice memosAzure Chat ServiceAzure Chat ServiceAzure Chat Service
Files sharedFile sharer’s OneDrive for Business; in the folder ‘Teams Chat files’Team’s SharePoint site; in the Channel folder within the Document libraryPrivate Channel’s SharePoint site; in the Channel folder within the Document library
Chat inline images, emojis & stickersAzure Media ServicesAzure Media ServicesAzure Media Services
Meeting recording encoding & streamingAzure Media ServicesAzure Media ServicesN/A
Meeting recording (new) OneDrive for Business for the person initiating recording 5Teams’ SharePoint; in the Channel folder within the Document library 5N/A
Meeting recording (being deprecated July 2021)Stream 5Stream 5N/A
Meeting NotesMeeting organiser’s OneDrive for Business; in folder Microsoft Teams DataTeam’s SharePoint Teams; in the Channel folder within the Teams Wiki DataN/A
Meeting pollsPoll creator’s FormsPoll creator’s FormsN/A
Whiteboard drawingWhiteboard AppWhiteboard AppWhiteboard App
Meeting chat compliance recordDiscoveryHolds (Hidden folder) in Exchange Online mailboxes of users in Meeting chat 1, 2, 3, 4DiscoveryHolds (Hidden folder) in Group online mailbox for the Team (in hidden folder)DiscoveryHolds (Hidden folder) in Exchange Online mailboxes of all members of the private channel 1, 2
Meeting Call Detail Record (for compliance)DiscoveryHolds (Hidden folder) in Exchange Online mailboxes of all meeting participants 1, 2, 3, 4DiscoveryHolds (Hidden folder) in Exchange Online mailboxes of all meeting participants 1, 2N/A

Where is my Teams Live Events data stored?

Microsoft Teams Live Events allow you to schedule and produce events that stream to large online audiences.

There are two types of Teams Live Events:

  1. Public: anyone who has the link can attend without logging in
  2.  Private: restricted to your org or to specific people and groups, attendees will need to log in to join

The rule for data storage are the same for both public and private event.

Data TypeTeams Live Event
Live event recording encoding & streamingAzure Media Services
Live Event Recording, Live Event Transcription, Q&A Report & Attendee ReportAzure Media Services held for 90 days with option for the producer to download

Where is my Teams Calling data stored?

Calls to other Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams users including federated users and guests uses Voice over IP (VOIP) telephony.

Optionally Teams also allows you to have a phone number and to make and receive calls from regular phones.

The table below details the rules for Where is my Teams calling data stored?

Data TypeTeams to Teams CallsPSTN calls
Call recording encoding & streamingAzure Media ServicesN/A
Call recording (from 1 March 2021)OneDrive for Business of the person initiating recordingN/A
Call recording (Legacy) being deprecated March 2021StreamN/A
Voicemail & transcriptionReceiver’s Exchange mailbox (cloud or hybrid)Receiver’s Exchange mailbox (cloud or hybrid)
Call Detail Record (for compliance)DiscoveryHolds (Hidden folder) in Exchange Online mailboxes of all users in call 1, 2, 3Hidden folder in Exchange Online mailboxes of all users in call 1

Summary

In conclusion the answer to ‘Where is my data stored?’ will depend on what functionality you are using within Teams.

It is important to explain ‘Where is my Team’s data stored‘ to all users as part of the user adoption plan for Teams. This is to ensure that users know when to use One-to-One and Groups Chats as opposed to using a Teams channel.

  • Data shared in a Team will last until the Team is deleted. It does not matter if the originator has left the organisation or if someone gets added or removed from the Team.
  • Data shared via One-to-One and Group Chats from a user’s OneDrive will be deleted when the user’s account is deleted.

Finally knowing where the data is stored is critical for people undertaking eDiscovery searches. If the scope of the search includes Teams that have private channels then the scope must be extended to include the private channel SharePoint sites and the individual user mailboxes, in addition to the Team’s SharePoint site and Group mailbox.

Notes for the tables

  1. Exchange hybrid users with an on-premise mailbox store their compliance records in a shadow online mailbox
  2. Guests with Azure B2B account store their compliance records in a shadow online online mailbox created for the guest
  3. Federated users store their compliance records in their own mailbox outside of tenant
  4. No compliance records are stored for anonymous meeting participants
  5. Meeting recordings have been historically stored in Stream. However Microsoft are moving meeting recording storage to SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business. From July 2021 you will only be able to store meeting recording in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business.

Microsoft Reference Documents

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