Action required: Upcoming changes to how Vault handles group conversations

Time sensitive announcement

In December 2020, Google Chat will change how group conversations work. Building on the recent release of unthreaded rooms, group conversations in Chat will be handled like unnamed, unthreaded rooms. For clarity, Chat will now consider all threaded rooms, unthreaded rooms, and group conversations as "Chat spaces". In Vault, references to "rooms" will change to "Chat spaces". For organizations that still have classic Hangouts turned on, groups conversations will be synchronized to Chat. Retention rules, holds, and search will be applied to group messages as described in the following sections.

Who's impacted, what to do, and when

If your organization has done any of the following in Vault, evaluate your settings and policies to ensure that they work as required by your organization:

  • Set custom retention rules for Chat
  • Placed holds on Chat messages
  • Saved queries that search Gmail and classic Hangouts or Chat

The next section has details about what's changing. The changes will roll out to customers over several weeks in December.

What's changing


Currently, group conversations are handled as direct messages (DMs) with many recipients and are subject to retention rules set for organizational units.

With the upcoming release, new group conversations in Chat will be handled like unthreaded rooms. Unlike current group conversations, the members of a group chat can be added or removed. When Vault users set a Chat custom retention rule, they'll set it for an organizational unit or "all Chat spaces" (instead of "all Rooms"). An "all Chat spaces" retention rule will apply to these new group conversations.

Additionally, if your organization still has classic Hangouts turned on, group messages will be synced between classic Hangouts and Chat. In classic Hangouts, group conversations synced from Chat will be handled as group conversations and subject to organizational unit-based retention rules. In Chat, group conversations synced from classic Hangouts will be handled as unthreaded rooms and subject to "All Chat spaces" retention rules.

The following table lists which message types are retained by each type of rule:

Organizational unit-based retention rule "All Chat spaces" retention rule
  • DMs in classic Hangouts and Chat
  • Group conversations in classic Hangouts
  • Group conversations in Chat created before early December 2020
  • Threaded spaces (spaces with messages in conversations)
  • Unthreaded spaces (spaces with messages in a single thread, like DMs)
  • Group conversations in Chat created after early December 2020
  • Group conversations synced to Chat from classic Hangouts, if your organization still has classic Hangouts turned on

Existing rules that were set for "all rooms" will become "all Chat spaces" and apply to new group conversations in Chat.

Group messages will be synced between classic Hangouts and Chat, with the following behavior:

  • When a message is purged by a Vault retention rule in one service, that deletion isn't synced to the other service. For example, if you set 2 custom Chat retention rules:
    1. set on an organizational unit to purge messages after 1 year, and
    2. set on all Chat spaces to retain messages indefinitely

    With these 2 policies, a group message is deleted from classic Hangouts 1 year after it was sent and isn't available through a Gmail search in Vault. However, that message is retained by the Chat spaces rule and is available through a Chat search in Vault.

  • When a user deletes a message in classic Hangouts but that message is retained by Vault, the message won't be synced to Chat. Learn how this behavior will affect search in the search section.


Currently, when a Vault user sets a hold on Chat, the hold applies to DMs and group messages associated with the specified accounts or accounts in the specified organizational unit. The Vault user can check a box to include messages in rooms.

With the upcoming release, the checkbox will apply to messages in Chat spaces, as defined in the preceding table. If your organization doesn't have classic Hangouts turned on, new group conversations will be included in a hold only when the box is checked, and holds will apply as they do for unthreaded rooms.

Search, preview, and export

Currently, to search group messages in Chat, you search by specific accounts or by an organizational unit. History must be turned on for messages to be available to Vault.

With the upcoming release:

  • To include messages in these new group conversations in a Chat account-based search, Vault users must check the Include messages from Chat spaces box (formerly the Include messages from rooms box). This option makes Vault search all threaded rooms and unthreaded rooms that the accounts are members of, including new group conversations (as long as history is on).
  • To search for messages in new group conversations in a Chat spaces-based search, Vault users will enter a member of the group chat and then select from a list of Chat spaces. The search will return messages from selected new group conversations and group conversations synced from classic Hangouts (as long as history is on).
  • To provide context for messages that match your Chat search query, preview and export return all messages in the group chat sent 12 hours before and 12 hours after the matched message.
  • New group conversations in Chat will synchronize to classic Hangouts as group conversations, so they will be included in a Gmail search (as long as history is on).

We recommend Vault users continue to use Gmail search to find messages in classic Hangouts. Although most classic Hangouts messages are synced to Chat, messages that are deleted by your users and are retained by Vault don't sync to Chat. If your Vault users select Chat as the data type for a search, the deleted messages aren't returned. Because of this behavior, your Vault users should search for classic Hangouts messages using the Gmail search.

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