How to Cut Your Archived User License Costs

Posted by Andrew Kaye, Account Manager, CloudM

Sep 09, 2020


License costs are often a mounting sum in many organizations. One of the biggest obstacles when trying to streamline budget numbers in this area is archived data pertaining to former employees. The costs around that can add up over time.

Through a worker’s tenure, it’s common to archive and store their data for many purposes, including business continuity and audit and compliance purposes, even after an employee has separated from the company.

Retaining ex-workers’ files, mail and data in a secure, affordable accessible space can leave many organizations scratching their heads at the storage price tag for archived licences. Such licenses can cost tens of dollars per user, per year. 

It can add up quickly, especially because most businesses typically retain this data for seven years after an employee leaves. What can organizations do to mitigate these costs?

Archival Data Challenges

Ensuring that archival data keeps its integrity and  that audit details remain accurate after a restoration is a crucial business need for any organization. So, too, is business continuity. 

accessing dataCurrent employees likely will need to access the former employee’s important files or emails, whether it’s to satisfy audit needs or to continue doing day-to-day work. In most cases, organizations usually archive a wide range of data that can be recalled at a later date, if needed. This data includes:

  • Documents
  • Mail
  • Calendars and appointments
  • Address books, groups, group members and contacts
  • Tasks and notes

This means, of course, that the majority of the employee data being retained is digital. And as the number of employees that have left the organization increases, so does the ongoing cost of managing their archived data.

Some organizations just take the hit and keep active licences open for old employee accounts.  But, depending on staff turnover, retaining old employee data can massively bloat license costs. 

Addressing Archived User License Costs

Organizations overcome this in many different ways. 


The large cloud services providers typically offer hold licenses that allow organizations to migrate former employees’ data to storage accounts. It’s easy but costly to retrieve this data, which remains fully intact during the restoration process. These storage licenses typically come with a fee that can cost upward of tens of dollars, per user, per year.

As a result of this, many organizations are looking elsewhere for alternative archive solutions that are cheaper, secure and easy to use. Cloud storage is one such solution.

Cloud storage provides a scalable, cost-effective alternative to traditional archived user licenses. Its relatively low cost, compared to ongoing archive license costs, delivers a robust, secure cost-saving solution. This is the case for the majority of users, which are unlikely to ever need to be fully restored - as they are being stored for data governance. 

Seeking Cost-Effective Archival Solutions

Cloud storage provides the elasticity needed to preserve former employees’ data at scale. Its costs are measured in volume rather than per user. Despite inevitable price increases over time, it likely will be at a much slower rate of pennies per user, per year, rather than tens of dollars.

CloudM can help organizations quickly and securely move to cloud storage, helping them migrate user data from Google Vault Former Employee (VFE), or archived licenses to Google Cloud Storage (GCS) and Microsoft Azure. 

analyzing dataOrganizations can migrate the bulk of their old users to cloud storage and still maintain data structure, for both instant and long term savings. The migration to cloud storage can be performed using either hosted or self-hosted platform solutions, or it can be handled by the CloudM Managed Migrations team. 

These organizations securely maintain and manage this data. It can be recalled back to an active user license using CloudM at any time, using a free restoration license. 

In short, license costs for archived users can eat up license budgets. But there are ways to claw that capital back by utilizing the cost-savings of cloud storage.

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Andrew Kaye, Account Manager, CloudM

Andy helps organizations of all sizes to get more from the cloud. He works with partners and customers worldwide to make their people more productive, get more for their money and establish a more secure future. Andy has been part of the CloudM family for nearly 10 years.

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