Monthly Archives: August 2023

Microsoft Drops A1 Plus & FREE Unlimited Storage for Education! Make the most of the Pooled Storage!

In a surprising move, Microsoft has announced the retirement of the A1 Plus license for education, accompanied by the removal of the free unlimited storage feature. These changes are set to impact educational institutions using Microsoft’s suite of tools. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the implications of these changes, explore their effects on educators, and provide actionable strategies to optimise your pooled storage and make the most out of this altered landscape.

Understanding A1 vs. A1 Plus Licenses

At the heart of these changes lies the difference between the A1 and A1 Plus licenses. While A1 offers essential functionality without desktop apps, A1 Plus includes these apps, making it an appealing choice for schools. Although each A3 and A5 licenses remain unaffected, A1 Plus users will experience a shift in their license type to A1.

Identifying Your License

Discovering which license you have is crucial in adapting to these modifications. By navigating the Admin Centre and visiting the Billing and Licenses section, you can ascertain your current licenses and their renewal date.

The New Storage Limitations

Previously boasting unlimited storage, Microsoft’s new changes introduce a cap of 100 terabytes for pooled storage across the tenant. This shared storage allocation encompasses OneDrive accounts, user mailboxes, and SharePoint sites. This blog post takes an in-depth look at the specifics of these new limitations and their implications for IT admins.

Timeline of Storage Tool Rollouts

Microsoft has outlined a timeline for introducing new storage tools. While some are already active, others are set to roll out in the coming months. This timeline offers insights into when you can expect to access various storage management tools, helping you plan accordingly.

Exploring the Storage Report Page

Microsoft’s storage reports page provides administrators with a detailed breakdown of storage consumption across Exchange, SharePoint, and OneDrive. While current storage limits might not yet be enforced, this tool allows you to proactively manage and optimise your storage resources.

Pooled storage in admin center

Managing OneDrive Storage

An in-depth exploration of managing OneDrive storage is provided in our video, outlining how administrators can use security groups to allocate differing storage allowances. Strategies are shared for effectively managing user storage limits within the constraints of A1 licenses.

Using security groups to restrict OneDrive storage limit

Centralising Resources for Efficiency

One effective strategy for optimising pooled storage is Centralising resources. By creating subject-level or department-level teams to store resources centrally, teachers can reuse materials across academic years, reducing duplication and storage consumption. This is something Cloud Design Box can automate for you based on school MIS data.

Centralising resources in education

Setting Retention Policies

Utilising retention policies within Office 365 can automatically delete files and emails after a designated period of inactivity. This not only frees up valuable storage but also aligns with data retention and GDPR policies. Check out our older blog post on retention policies

Restricting Site and Team Creation

Preventing uncontrolled site and team creation is essential for maintaining a manageable and secure environment. By delegating the creation of teams and SharePoint sites to trusted individuals and using specialised tools (like our Cloud Design Box site creation tool), schools can prevent unnecessary storage bloat.


Microsoft’s changes to the A1 Plus license and storage capabilities present challenges for educational institutions. However, armed with an understanding of these changes and armed with actionable strategies, IT admins can adapt and even thrive within this evolving landscape. As we navigate these shifts together, remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more insightful tips and guides on maximising your experience with Office 365, SharePoint, and Teams in education.

EASY Microsoft SDS Academic Year Rollover | Complete Guide

As the new academic year approaches, it’s time to:

  • Update your Microsoft Data Sync (SDS).
  • Archive old classes.
  • Create new teams for the new academic year.

This blog post is a step-by-step guide on how to update your SDS for the new academic year.

Cloud Design Box Customers

If you’re a Cloud Design Box customer, you don’t need to worry about this as we’ll do this for you. You should’ve received a rollover form from us to give us the info we need to prepare your SDS data for the new academic year.

How we can help you manage your SDS

Along with our SharePoint intranet, assignment tools and other services to help teachers save time, we also provide the following solutions to make end of year easier for teachers and students:

  • Centralised subject sites to avoid moving/copying teacher resources.
  • Managed rollover process – we will archive old teams for you.
  • Early creation and update of next year’s teams – reach into the future to create teams early.
  • Managed SDS service – we will setup and support automating classes from MIS data.
  • Class dashboard time machine – view archived classes quickly and easily.

Roll over your classes for the new academic year

If you are not a Cloud Design Box customer and would like to roll over your classes for the new academic year, simply follow the steps in the rest of this blog post.

Create a Group Report

1. Open School Data Sync. If you’re unsure where this is, go to Microsoft 365 Admin Centre and select All Admin Centres. You can find School Data Sync here.

Microsoft Admin Cloud Design Box SDS New Academic Year

2. Under Sync Profiles, select the profile you’d like to update.

Update Profile MS School Data Sync

3. Hit Group Cleanup for further detailed instructions if required.
4. Tap People in the top left of the menu.
5. Select the Memberships tab.
6. Hit Group Report.

Profile group cleanup MS School Data Sync

You might have a previous Group Report here but make sure you choose Generate New Report.

7. Tap Generate New Report. This may take a few minutes to generate.
8. Download the .csv file by selecting the Download Icon. This file can be opened in MS Excel.

Download group cleanup report MS School Data Sync

Extract the teams you’d like to archive

1. Open the .csv file.
2. Convert the data into a table:

  • i. Highlight all of the the data.
  • ii. On the Home tab, hit Format as Table.

Create a new table on MS Excel School data sync

  • iii. Make sure My Table has Headers has been ticked.
  • iv. Tap Okay.

This enables you to sort the data to easily find the teams you’d like to archive. You may want to sort the teams you’d like to archive by:

  • Name (Prefix ID)
  • Created Date/Time
  • Section ID
  • Course Name
  • Course Subject
  • Status

For example, if you want to filter out a Name or Prefix ID:

  • i. Tap the arrow next to the column header.
  • ii. Hit Text Filters.
  • iii. Select the desired filter. For example, Contains….

Filter data Excel MS School data sync

  • iv. Enter the School Code or the appropriate code for the classes you’d like to archive.
  • v. Choose AND to include both search terms if you entered multiple filter terms and you’d like data containing both of your defined search terms.
  • vi. Choose OR to include both search terms if you entered multiple filter terms and you’d like data containing either of your defined search terms.
  • vii. Tap Okay.

Set filter parameters in MS Excel Microsoft Data Sync

Check the list to make sure you have a list of all the classes you’d like to archive.

3. Create a new tab.
4. Copy and paste the list of classes you’d like to archive.
5. Delete the old SectionUsage tab (right-click on the tab and hit Delete).

Delete tab MS Excel MS School Data Sync

6. Rename the new tab as SectionUsage so it’s in the same format.
7. Save the file. It’s important that the file name is exactly the same as the original name.

Complete the group cleanup

1. Go back into School Data Sync.
2. Hit People on the left-hand menu.
3. Select Group Cleanup.
4. Tap Select Group Report.

Select group report in profiles in MS School Data Sync

5. Upload the file you saved above.
6. Hit Upload Group Report.
7. Tap Next.
8. Make sure Archive Group is ticked.
9. Tap Run Cleanup.

Archive file and run group clean up in Microsoft School Data Sync

This may take a while to run. You may need to check to make sure all the classes have been archived correctly as sometimes the odd classes can be missed.

The classes are still available in Read Only mode. The users in those class teams will be frozen in time and it’s still possible to find these students in the future. More info on how to find archived classes can be found here.

You will be notified once the group cleanup has been completed. This can take 10 minutes or longer.

Update the classes for the new academic year

1. Under Sync Profile, select the profile you cleaned up.
2. Hit Start New Term/Year. It won’t strip people out now we’ve correctly archived the relevant classes and users.

Run new academic year in MS school data sync

3. Set a new Profile Expiry Date using the calendar icon.
4. Tap Save.

Set the expiry date for new academic year in MS School Data Sync

5. Hit Upload.
6. Select Add Files.
7. Choose the new spreadsheets for the classes for the new academic year. If you’re a Cloud Design Box customer, we will do this for you after you’ve sent us your rollover form.
8. Tap Open.
9. Hit Upload.

Upload new csv files for new academic year in MS School Data Sync

10. Press Okay.

Updating your SDS for the new academic year is a breeze with these simple steps. First, archive off any old classes that won’t be needed anymore. Then, with the excitement of a fresh start, create new teams for the upcoming academic year. If you’re a Cloud Design Box customer, don’t worry – we’ve got your back and will handle this for you.

If you’re not a Cloud Design Box customer or would like us to take over your SDS academic rollover for you, or if you’d like to improve collaboration and communication with an intranet, contact us to find out how we can help.

Be More Productive – Focus Time Guide on Viva Insights

The need for effective productivity and well-being solutions has never been greater. Viva Insights in Microsoft Teams steps up to the plate, offering a wide array of features designed to:

  • Enhance productivity
  • Streamline collaboration
  • Prioritise employee well-being

  • Employee wellbeing award winners Cloud Design Box are experts at utilising tools through our intranet to improve employee happiness and wellbeing.

    In this article, we’ll delve into the various benefits of using Viva Insights in Microsoft Teams and discover how it empowers organisations to thrive in the modern digital landscape.

    Install Viva Insights

      1. Select the apps icon on Team’s left menu bar.
      2. Search Viva Insights.
      3. Under Apps, select Viva Insights.

    Install Viva Insights 2

      4. Tap Add.

    Select Add Vista Insights

    Viva Insights will automatically open once it’s been installed. If you’d like easy access to Viva Insights, you can attach it to the left menu bar by right-clicking on the Viva Insight icon and selecting pin.

    Pin Vista Insights to the Menu

    Create Focus Time

    Viva Insights allows you to schedule focus time using the remaining free time in your current calendar. Best of all, it’s very easy to set up:

      1. Tap Protect Time in the top menu or scroll down to find the Protect Time window and select More Options.

    Focus Time in Vista Insights

      2. Rename the focus time if you’d prefer a customised focus time name. This will be displayed in your calendar.
      3. Select a date and time for the focus time list. Viva Insights will allow you to select a time range that is currently free in your calendar.
      4. Hit Show More Focus Time Options to see more available times.
      5. Tap Book Time for the desired focus time slot(s).
      6. See Further Dates by selecting the small left and right arrows.

    Set up Focus Time in Vista Insights

    Your new focus time can now be seen in the calendar on Team’s left menu bar. You can edit your focus time just like an ordinary scheduled meeting in your calendar. Your status will change from available to Do Not Disturb once the focus time begins too.

    Edit Focus Time Settings

    Once your focus time has been created, you’ll only receive notifications for urgent messages and from your priority contacts. These can be edited in change settings.

    Tap on the notification to view your task list and set up a countdown timer.

    Create a Focus Plan

    Booking focus times can also be done on an ad hoc basis or planned in advance on a recurring basis. This feature enables you to book focus time automatically which lasts for 8 working days.

      1. Go to the Improve Work Life Balance window.

    Focus Plan in Vista Insights

      2. Select Get Started.

    Selected Vista Insights in Focus Plan

      3. Your time will appear in your calendar. Check your calendar to see the focus times.

    Edit a Focus Plan

      1. Go to Viva Insights on Team’s left menu to see an overview of your focus plan.
      2. Select Book Focus Time.

    Edit Focus Plan in Vista Insights

      3. You can edit the dates and times of your focus time here.

    Focus Plan Preferences

      1. Tap the Viva Insights icon on Team’s left menu to see an overview of your focus plan.
      2. In Your Insights, select Book Focus Time.
      4. Go to the Protect Your Time window.
      5. Select View Focus Plan Preferences.
      6. Here, you can:

    • Set your lunch hour.
    • Configure your recurring plans for focus.
    • Set an earliest focus time start time.
    • Choose if you’d like to receive notifications or not.
      7. Hit Save. It can take up to 24 hours to enact the changes.
      8. If you’d like to revert the plan back to its original state, select Reset to Default.
      9. You can also cancel the plan by choosing Leave Plan.

    Leave plan in Vista Insights

    It can take up to 24 hours for these changes to be made.

    Remember that recurring focus time will be set for the next 8 working days. If you’d like to set up a recurring event longer than 8 days, simply set up a recurring meeting in your Microsoft Teams calendar.

    Viva Insights Suite

    Purchasing Viva Insights Suite would give you further control over your productivity in Microsoft Teams. Viva Insights Suite includes:

  • Viva Connections – Centralise a gateway for company resources, news, and collaboration.
  • Viva Engage – Enhance team dynamics with personalised insights, fostering well-being and stronger bonds.
  • Viva LearningIntegrate learning management system for easy access to training and personalised learning.
  • Viva Topics – Automate knowledge organisation, empowering users with relevant information.
  • Viva Goals – Facilitate goal-setting, tracking and alignment for a goal-oriented culture.
  • Specifically, Viva Insights Suite enables the above by providing the following:

  • AI-powered learning suggestions, monitoring, and external app integrations.
  • Valuable organisational analytics for managers and leaders.
  • Tailored insights tools and boosters.
  • AI-based content organisation and exploration.
  • Efficient goal setting and management features.
  • Enhanced community engagement options.
  • Knowledge sharing through crowd-based FAQs.
  • Support for multiple branded employee hubs for news and updates.
  • You can find the current Viva Insights Suite business pricing plan here.

    Contact Cloud Design Box to find out how we can help you improve collaboration and communication with an intranet.