Control email message storage

As a Google Workspace administrator, you manage email message storage for people in your organization.

Important: This article and the related setting apply to Gmail and Classic Hangout messages, but not to Google Chat messages. Classic Hangouts is deprecated. To manage auto-deletion for Chat, visit Automatically delete Chat messages for your organization.

Set the number of days messages stay in a user's inbox, and create settings that:

  • Move messages to trash or delete them permanently when their storage periods expire.
  • Store messages with specific labels.
  • Delete messages automatically, or let your users manage message deletion.

If you need auto-deletion for all accounts, for example for legal or compliance purposes, use Google Vault instead.

How storage settings are applied

The Email and chat auto-deletion setting controls storage. The setting applies to email messages in the user's inbox and to archived messages. This setting also applies to messages added using the Gmail API.

To exclude migrated messages from being automatically deleted, add a label that excludes them from deletion. Messages with multiple labels are excluded from deletion when at least one label excludes them from being automatically deleted.

When at least one message in a conversation is stored based on storage settings, all messages in the conversation are stored. This happens when Conversation view is on or off.

Storage settings don't apply to messages in the Trash folder. Messages in the Trash are permanently deleted after 30 days. 

Storage settings are applied to messages on a regular, periodic schedule. When a storage period is over, messages might not be removed until a later time.

How to use labels to store messages

To create labels for storing specific messages, use the option Do not automatically delete messages with the following labels. Communicate these labels to people in your organization so they can create the same labels for messages they want to keep. Learn more about how users create labels.

Note: Labels don't support wildcard characters, and labels don't inherit settings from parent labels. Enter each label individually, using complete label names. 

Set up message storage:

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in

  2. In the Admin console, go to Menu and then Appsand thenGoogle Workspaceand thenGmailand thenCompliance.
  3. On the left, select your top-level organization, typically your domain.
  4. Scroll to the Email and chat auto-deletion setting and choose an option:
    • Do not delete email and chat messages automatically. Then click Save.
    • Automatically delete email and chat messages older than the specified number of days.
  5. Enter the number of days you want to store messages. For example, enter 45 to delete messages older than 45 days. The minimum is 30.
  6. Choose an option to manage automatically deleted messages:
    • Move messages to the Trash folder. Messages stay in the trash for 30 more days before they're deleted. This extra time lets you retrieve any messages deleted by mistake.
    • Delete messages permanently: Messages bypass the trash, and are deleted permanently after the specified number of days. You can't retrieve permanently deleted messages.
  7. To store messages with specific labels, enter a comma-separated list of labels under Do not automatically delete messages with the following labels.

  8. At the bottom of the page, click Save

Changes can take up to 24 hours but typically happen more quickly. Learn more


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