Control email and chat message storage

If you have the legacy free edition of G Suite, upgrade to Google Workspace to get this feature. 

You can control the amount of email and chat messages stored for users in your organization. You can specify the maximum number of days you want the messages to be kept in a user's inbox. You can also specify whether to:

  • 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 regardless of account activity, such as for legal and compliance purposes, use Google Vault instead.

How storage settings are applied

Storage is controlled by the Email and chat auto-deletion setting. The setting applies to messages in the user's inbox and archived messages. They also apply to messages added using the Gmail API. Migrated messages older than the specified period for auto-deletion are deleted, unless they are tagged with a label to exclude them from deletion.

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

Storage policies are applied to messages on a regular, periodic schedule. Therefore, a storage period might be over, but the messages might not be removed until later.

How to use labels to store messages

You can create a label or list of labels for storing specific messages. You do this using the Do not automatically delete messages with the following labels option. You then communicate the label or labels to the users in your domain so that they can create the same labels and apply them to messages that they don’t want deleted. Learn more about how users create labels.

Note: Wildcard characters aren’t supported and setting inheritance doesn’t apply, so you must enter each label individually using full 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. From the Admin console Home page, go to Appsand thenGoogle Workspaceand thenGmailand thenCompliance.

    Note: You might find this setting at Appsand thenGoogle Workspaceand thenGmailand thenAdvanced Settings.

  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. Skip the remaining steps
    • Automatically delete email and chat messages older than the specified number of days. Then go to step 6.
  5. Enter the number of days you want to store messages. For example, enter 45 to have messages older than 45 days deleted. The minimum number you can enter is 30.
  6. To specify how to handle automatically-deleted messages, choose an option:
    • Move messages to the Trash folder. Messages stay in trash for an additional 30 days before they're deleted. The extra time allows you to retrieve any messages that were deleted by mistake.
    • Delete messages permanently: Messages bypass trash and are deleted permanently after the number of days you specify. You can't retrieve permanently deleted messages.
  7. To store messages with specific labels, under Do not automatically delete messages with the following labels, enter a comma-separated list of labels.

  8. At the bottom of the page, click Save.


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