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Manage connectors for third-party data

Updated: Dec 27, 2023

Microsoft 365 lets administrators use data connectors to import and archive non-Microsoft, third-party data from social media platforms, instant messaging platforms, and document collaboration platforms, to mailboxes in your Microsoft 365 organization. One primary benefit of using data connectors to import and archive third-party data in Microsoft 365 is that you can apply various Microsoft Purview solutions to the data after it's been imported. This helps you ensure that your organization's non-Microsoft data complies with the regulations and standards that affect your organization.

Third-party data connectors

The Microsoft Purview compliance portal provides native third-party data connectors from Microsoft to import data from various data sources, such as LinkedIn, Instant Bloomberg, and Twitter, and data connectors that support the Insider risk management solution. In addition to these data connectors, Microsoft works with the following partners to provide many more third-party data connectors in the compliance portal. Your organization works with these partners to set up their archiving service before creating a corresponding data connector in the compliance portal.

Third-Party Import Data Process

Third-Party Import Data Process
  1. Customer works with their partner of choice to configure a connector that will extract items from the third-party data source and then import those items to Microsoft 365.

  2. The partner connector connects to third-party data sources via a third-party API (on a scheduled or as-configured basis) and extracts items from the data source. The partner connector converts the content of an item to an email message format. See the More information section for a description of the message-format schema.

  3. Partner connector connects to the Azure service in Microsoft 365 by using Exchange Web Service (EWS) via a well-known endpoint.

  4. Items are imported into the mailbox of a specific user or a "catch-all" third-party data mailbox. Whether an item is imported into a specific user mailbox or to the third-party data mailbox is based on the following criteria:

  • Items that have a user ID that corresponds to a user account: If the partner connector can map the user ID of the item in the third-party data source to a specific user ID in Microsoft 365, the item is copied to the Purges folder in the user's Recoverable Items folder. Users can't access items in the Purges folder. However, you can use eDiscovery tools to search for items in the Purges folder.

  • Items that don't have a user ID that corresponds to a user account: If the partner connector can't map the user ID of an item to a specific user ID, the item is copied to the Inbox folder of the third-party data mailbox. Importing items to the inbox allows you or someone in your organization to sign in to the third-party mailbox to view and manage these items, and see if any adjustments need to be made in the partner connector configuration.

Overview of compliance solutions that support third-party data

The following sections describe some of the things that Microsoft Purview solutions can help you to manage the third-party data listed in the previous table.

Litigation hold

You place a Litigation hold on a user mailbox to retain third-party data. When you create a hold, you can specify a hold duration (also called a time-based hold) so that deleted and modified third-party data is retained for a specified period and then permanently deleted from the mailbox. Or you can just retain content indefinitely (called an infinite hold) or until the Litigation hold is removed.


The three primary eDiscovery tools in Microsoft 365 are Content search, Microsoft Purview eDiscovery (Standard), and Microsoft Purview eDiscovery (Premium).

Content search

Content search. You can use the content search tool to search mailboxes for third-party data that you imported. You can use search queries and conditions to narrow your search results and export the search results.

eDiscovery (Standard)

eDiscovery (Standard). This tool builds on the basic search and export functionality by enabling you to create cases that let you control who can access case data, and place a hold on user mailboxes or mailbox content that matches search criteria. That means you can place an eDiscovery hold on the third-party data that was imported to user mailboxes.

eDiscovery (Premium)

eDiscovery (Premium). This powerful tool expands the case functionality of eDiscovery (Standard) by letting you add custodians to a case, placing custodian's data on hold, and then loading a custodian's third-party data into a review for further analysis such as themes and duplicate detection. After you load third-party data into a review set, you can query and filter it to a narrow result set.

  • Both eDiscovery (Standard) and eDiscovery (Premium) let you manage third-party data that may be relevant to your organization's legal or internal investigations.

Retention settings

You can apply a retention policy to user mailboxes to retain and then delete third-party data (and other mailbox content) after the retention period expires. You can also use retention policies to delete third-party data of a certain age or use retention labels to trigger a disposition review when the retention period for third-party data expires.

Records management

The records management feature in Microsoft 365 lets you declare third-party data as a record. This can be done manually by users who apply a retention label that marks third-party data in their mailbox as a record. Or you can auto-apply retention labels by identifying sensitive information, keywords, or content types in third-party data.

Communication compliance

You can use Communication compliance to examine third-party data to make sure it is compliant with your organization's data standards. You can do this by you detecting, capturing, and taking remediation actions for inappropriate messages in your organization. For example, you can monitor the third-party data that you import for offensive language, sensitive information, and regulatory compliance.

Insider risk management

Signals from third-party data, like selective HR data, can be used by the Insider risk management solution to minimize internal risks by letting you detect, investigate, and act on risky activities in your organization. For example, data imported by the HR data connector is used as risk indicators to help detect departing employee data theft.

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