Set retention rules

Retention rules control how long certain messages in your domain are retained before they are removed from user mailboxes and expunged from all Google systems. You can create custom retention rules to retain specific content. You can also set a default retention rule for your entire domain.

The two types of retention rules

Custom retention rules: With this type of rule, you're telling Vault how long to retain specific content—content in a certain organizational unit (OU) and its sub-OUs, within a certain date range, and with specific terms—before that content is expunged and no longer available to anyone. You can create multiple custom rules.

Default retention rule: With this type of rule, you're setting a global retention rule for the domain. The default rule applies to content only when a custom rule or a hold does not apply. If you set a finite default retention period, content is expunged and no longer available to anyone shortly after the default period expires.

Retention rule precedence behaves as follows:

  • If at least one custom retention rule applies to a message, that rule takes precedence over the default retention rule.
  • If more than one custom retention rule applies to a message, the custom retention rule that retains the message the longest takes precedence.
  • If a user is on hold, none of the user's messages are deleted—regardless of retention rules—until the hold is lifted.

Create a custom retention rule

  1. Sign in to Google Apps Vault.

  2. Click Retention in the left navigation.

  3. Click ADD RULE.

  4. Based on your company's requirements, set parameters for the content that your company wants to retain. You can set one, two, or three of these parameters:

    • Organization. Choose an organizational unit (OU). This rule will apply only to members of this OU and its sub-OUs. OUs are created by your Google Apps administrator in the Admin console; the OUs are then available in Vault.
    • Sent date. Choose a range of dates from the calendar picker that appears when you click either date box. If you specify only a start date, the rule applies to content after that date. If you specify only an end date, the rule applies to content before that date.
    • Terms. Enter any search terms that would appear in messages. You can also use search operators in this field.
  5. Choose a retention period:

    • Retain data indefinitely.This option means that user content meeting the above parameters is permanently available in Vault.
    • Retain data for a specified number of days (36,500 max). With this option, you can specify a period in days to retain user content in Vault. Shortly after that period elapses, content will be expunged from all Google systems. Remember that after expunge, you cannot get content back.
  6. Click Save or Preview:

    • Save: Click if you're sure you've set the parameters correctly.
    • Preview: Click to display a list of messages that match the retention rule parameters that you set. Results display in order by date, with the most recent date first. Examine the list to verify that you've set the rule correctly. If you're satisfied with the result of the preview, click the Save button. If not, change the parameters of the retention rule and test the rule again.
      Clicking the Preview button does not save the retention rule. You must click Save to set the rule.

Important notes

  • Email aliases in the Terms field: An email alias is an alternative email address that points to a primary email address. Custom retention rules do not automatically include email aliases. If you want to include email aliases, you must add them to the Terms field.

  • Renamed users: Custom retention rules are not automatically modified when users are renamed. The retention rule continues to apply only to addresses that are explicitly in the Terms field of the rule. For example, if a rule applies to messages that include 'before@example.com' and that user is renamed 'after@example.com,' the retention rule applies only to messages sent to 'before@example.com.'

  • Modifying a custom retention rule: You can modify a custom rule, but you must understand how that modification might impact retained content. Content is retained according to the most recent modification to the retention rule.

    To modify or verify the details of a custom retention rule, click Retention in the left navigation. In the list of rules that appears, click the retention rule you want to modify or verify.

Set the default retention rule

  1. Sign in to Google Apps Vault.

  2. Click Retention in the left navigation.

  3. Click the Modify default retention period button.

  4. In the dialog that appears, select one of these three options:

    • Do not specify a default retention period. This option means that user content is under user control unless a custom rule applies to it or unless the user account containing the content is on hold. Your organization's default retention period is automatically set to this option unless a Vault administrator changes it.
    • Retain data for a specified number of days (36,500 max). With this option, you can specify a period in days to retain user content in Vault. Shortly after that period elapses, content will be expunged from all Google systems. Remember that after expunge, you cannot get content back.
    • Retain data indefinitely. This option means that user content is permanently available in Vault unless a custom rule applies to it.
  5. Click Submit.