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Control email storage

You can control the amount of email stored for users in your organization using the Email auto-deletion settings in your Google Admin console. You can specify:

  • The number of days you want to retain messages
  • Whether to move messages to the Trash or delete them permanently when their retention periods have expired
  • Whether to store messages with specific labels
  • Whether to delete messages automatically or let your users manage email deletion
Email retention settings apply to messages in the user's inbox and archived messages. They also apply to messages added using the Email Migration API. Migrated messages older than the specified retention period are deleted unless they are tagged with a label to exclude them from deletion.

Email retention settings do not apply to messages in the Trash folder, which are deleted permanently after 30 days, nor to suspended or inactive users. To stay active, accounts must receive messages or make requests via web or client at least once a day. If you need complete archiving with auto-deletion for all accounts regardless of account activity, such as for legal and compliance purposes, use Google Vault.

This feature is not available in the legacy free edition of Google Apps.

To set up email retention:

  1. Sign in to your Google Admin console.

    Sign in using your administrator account (does not end in @gmail.com).

  2. From the Admin console dashboard, go to Appsand thenGoogle Appsand thenGmailand thenAdvanced settings.

    Tip: To see Advanced settings, scroll to the bottom of the Gmail page.

  3. On the left, select your top-level organization.
  4. In the Email auto-deletion section, select either Automatically delete email messages older than N days or Do not delete email messages automatically.

    If you select Do not delete email messages automatically, click Save and skip the remaining steps.

  5. Enter the number of days you want to retain messages. For example, enter 30 to have messages older than 30 days deleted.
  6. Choose 1 of these options to specify how to handle automatically-deleted messages:
    • Move messages to the Trash folder: Messages stay in the Trash folder an additional 30 days before they're deleted, which gives you additional time to retrieve a message that was deleted according to your email retention settings.
    • Delete messages permanently: Messages bypass the Trash folder and are deleted permanently after the number of days you specify. Once a message is deleted permanently, you can't retrieve it.
  7. To retain messages with specific labels, enter a comma-separated list of those labels in the text field under Do not automatically delete messages with the following labels.

    You must enter the full names of the labels, because wildcard characters are not supported. Nested labels do not inherit this setting from their parent labels.

    You can publish a list of these labels to your users so they have the option to prevent specific messages from being deleted automatically.

  8. At the bottom, click Save.
The email retention policy is applied to users' mailboxes on a regular, periodic schedule. Therefore, messages whose retention period has passed might not be removed until a few hours later.
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