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How to achieve regulatory and compliance requirements using Microsoft 365 Audit Logs!

Hey there, fellow guardians of digital sanctity! Today, we will be talking about the reasons for preserving your Microsoft audit log history and the power of maintaining your document audit logs within SharePoint Online for Microsoft 365.

Trust us, it's not just a mundane task; it's your ticket to regulatory compliance, operational efficiency, and risk management utopia!

Did you Know

Did you know: By default, Microsoft 365 keeps your audit log data (audit history) for applications like SharePoint, Exchange, Entra ID, Teams etc. for only up to 180 days for E3 user licenses, and only up to 1 year for E5 user licenses. After those dates your valuable audit data will be gone forever!

Implication Organizations that use Microsoft 365 have current or future regulatory, compliance or security requirements must take action to preserve their vital audit log, audit history, events and telemetry.

Let's take a stroll through this landscape by discussing three important topics around your audit history:

  1. Industries where maintaining Document Audit History is vital!

    Each industry has its own specific quirks and needs, but the common thread is the need to preserve and maintain a legal chain of custody for your content by preserving, securing and showing the Microsoft audit logs for the lifetime of said documents. Let’s delve a little closer into several industries where and why the Audit History is important.

    • Pharmaceutical and Healthcare:

      These industries need to track changes in documents like drug manufacturing procedures, patient records, and clinical trial protocols to ensure compliance with regulations, safety, and quality control.

    • Financial Services:

      Banks, investment firms, and insurance companies must maintain document history for financial reports, transactions, and customer records to comply with financial regulations and audit trails.

    • Legal Services:

      Law firms require thorough document audit logs for contracts, case records, and legal documents to demonstrate compliance with legal processes and client confidentiality.

    • Aerospace and Defense:

      Document audit history is critical for engineering designs, maintenance manuals, and quality control documents to adhere to strict industry standards and safety protocols.

    • Information Technology:

      IT organizations need to maintain version and audit history for software development, system configurations, and security policies to ensure transparency, compliance, and accountability.

    • Construction and Manufacturing:

      These industries adhere to strict guidelines ensuring products are designed, and created to meet quality standards suitable for their intended use. They may require maintenance of comprehensive records around manufacturing, quality control, and product specifications. Document audit history ensures traceability and accountability for these vital records.

  2. Regulatory and Compliance Requirements

    How to meet and fulfill ISO 9001, FDA 21 CFR Part 11, HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, GDPR requirements in Microsoft 365? These are but a few of the most common guiding regulations for various industries in maintaining compliance! Each demands their due diligence in securing and maintaining your organizations vital document audit history. It's not just a checkbox; it's a compliance requirement that organizations must adhere to. Let’s delve into several common industry regulations and how audit history plays a role.

    • ISO 9001 (Quality Management System):

      ISO 9001 requires organizations to maintain documented information, including version history, to demonstrate compliance with quality management standards.

    • FDA 21 CFR Part 11:

      This regulation mandates electronic records and signatures in the pharmaceutical industry, requiring comprehensive document audit history for electronic records.

    • HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act):

      Healthcare organizations must maintain document audit history to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of patient records.

    • Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX):

      Concerns publicly traded companies active in the United States – they are required to maintain document audit log history for financial records and reports to prevent fraud and maintain transparency for seven years.

    • GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation):

      GDPR requires organizations to track changes to data protection policies and practices, necessitating document audit logs for compliance.

    • Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP):

      GMP guidelines and regulations are designed to guarantee products are produced and controlled consistently according to quality standards suitable for their intended use which are essential for maintaining consumer safety, reliability and performance. Document audit history ensures the traceability and accountability of these records.

    Regulations are the rules of engagement in this digital age, and preserving and securing vital document history is your trusty shield against non-compliance pitfalls.

  3. Benefits of Preserving Document Audit History

    Why is preserving your document audit history important? Compliance, accountability, risk mitigation, operational efficiency, dispute resolution, and the sacred preservation of audit knowledge. Document audit history isn't just a record; it's a treasure trove of organizational wisdom for preserving the who, what, when, where and how of your digital content. Below is a summary of core reasons for why you would want to preserve your document audit history.

    • Compliance:

      Ensuring compliance with industry-specific regulations and standards is a primary reason to maintain document audit history. It helps organizations prove adherence to requirements.

    • Accountability:

      Document audit history holds individuals and teams accountable for their actions, promoting transparency and reducing the risk of unauthorized changes.

    • Risk Mitigation:

      Preservation of document audit logs helps organizations identify errors, track issues, and assess the impact of changes, reducing operational risks.

    • Efficiency:

      Document audit history streamlines collaboration by allowing teams to review and understand past changes, preventing duplication of work and improving overall efficiency.

    • Dispute Resolution:

      In legal and contractual matters, document audit history can serve as evidence in case of disputes, protecting the organization's interests.

    • Knowledge:

      Document audit history ensures that institutional knowledge is retained, making it easier to understand the evolution of processes and decisions.

In summary, maintaining your Microsoft 365 audit history including your SharePoint document audit history is crucial for various industries due to regulatory requirements, accountability, risk management, operational efficiency, and legal considerations. Organizations must be diligent in documenting changes to ensure compliance and facilitate effective document control processes.


Microsoft 365 keeps your audit log data (audit history) for only up to 180 days for E3 user licenses, and only up to 1 year for E5 user licenses. After those dates your valuable audit data will be gone forever! Note: It is possible to extend your audit history for up to 10 years but it requires all Users to be licensed with E5 plus the 10-year audit retention license. This can very expensive for many organizations).

Solution: Audit Vault for M365:

Audit Vault for M365 helps your oganization by:

  • Staying compliant with industry and regulatory standards by retaining your document's audit history for as long as you need.
  • Preserving the historical legal chain of custody of your vital documents in SharePoint regardless of your Microsoft User license types.
  • Saving you money on yearly licensing / subscription costs.

Introducing Audit Vault for M365: Your trusted solution for extending and enhancing your compliance and regulatory needs in Microsoft 365

Audit Vault for M365 protects your organization by enabling a powerful and secure Audit Vault to: manage, secure and preserve your go-forward and past historical audit log data from Microsoft 365 for as long as you require. Access your critical audit log event data to ensure you can gain insights and further investigate user activities if and when required for compliance, regulatory or security purposes.

Benefits of using Audit Vault for M365
Benefit Details
Cost Savings Save Money on Microsoft Licensing Costs. In order to preserve your Microsoft 365 Logs for at most 10 years, Microsoft requires all users to have E5 licenses plus the 10-year audit log retention add-on license. This can be very expensive! Audit Vault for M365 is a cost-effective solution that can save you money by securely preserving all of your audit log history for as long as you require. See our ROI calculator to learn how much you can save.
Ease of Use: Fully Integrated with Microsoft 365, Audit Vault for M365 is a turnkey cloud solution with no app to install. Audit Vault for M365 easily works with your existing Microsoft Tenant and preserves all of your Microsoft Audit Logs for as long as you need them. Set it up once and enjoy the ongoing secure capture and preservation of your Microsoft 365 audit log history.
Ease of Deployment: Get setup within 5 minutes. Our no-code solution can be easily deployed for your Tenant and managed from our cloud interface.
  • Retain your net-new Microsoft 365 audit logs
  • Retain all of your historical Microsoft 365 audit logs and audit history
Preserve your Audit Log History: Avoid losing your Microsoft 365 audit logs after 180 days or 1 year. Enable a secure Audit Vault for all of your organization’s Microsoft 365 audit entries (such as SharePoint, Exchange and EntraID). Preserve and maintain the historical legal chain of custody of your vital documents including your full Microsoft 365 audit log event data and history for as long as you require. Ensures you have a vault of your critical audit log event data for your compliance, regulatory and security requirements.
View SharePoint Audit History: Expose an optional "Audit History for SharePoint" menu item and command bar button in SharePoint. Allow users to view a SharePoint Item’s Audit Log History right within SharePoint Online!
  • Ex.) SharePoint document and folder audit history – who viewed, who edited, when etc.
Powerful Reports: Audit Vault for M365 provides out of the box insights reports and analytics from a single interface. With Advanced Searching, and Threat Intelligence on your Microsoft 365 Audit Logs, our solution ensures you have the insights and reports nessary to protect your organization and make informed decisions.
  • Ex.) List all activity in Microsoft 365 for a specific User in the last 30 days.
Compliance Certificates: Audit Vault for M365 automatically generates Compliance Certificates to prove your defensible unaltered audit history to enhance transparency and accountability. Audit Vault for M365 will help your organization to preserve your legal chain of custody including unauthorized access, use, disclosure, modification, disposal, transmission, or destruction. Capture the who, what, when, where and how for as long as you may require.
No-code Implementation: Automatically import your tenants' Microsoft SharePoint, Exchange and Entra ID audit logs without the need of expensive developers. Just configure Audit Vault for M365 with your tenant and you are all set.

Compliance is no longer an option; it's a necessity. As we have covered in this article non-compliance can lead to substantial financial losses, damage your reputation, and jeopardize your organization's future. With Audit Vault for M365, you're not just meeting requirements; you're embracing a culture of compliance that reduces risk, enhances operational efficiency, and ultimately protects your organization's bottom line.

Intelligently Surface Your SharePoint Audit History

Expose and view SharePoint Item Audit History directly in SharePoint Online to empower your end users, power users and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to see the item history for documents and folders within SharePoint. Unlock the ability for your users to view audit history, identify zero-day permissions issues, and enable identification of unauthorized access and changes in SharePoint Online.

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