Supported data types

With Google Vault, you can retain, hold, search, and export these types of data:

  Retain Hold Search and export
Mail and classic Hangouts checkmark checkmark checkmark
Drive checkmark checkmark checkmark
Groups checkmark checkmark checkmark
Hangouts Chat checkmark checkmark checkmark
Hangouts Meet checkmark Covered by
holds on Drive
Use Drive
search and export

Email and Groups messages

Vault is fully integrated with Gmail and Google Groups. Thus when you’re searching for email with Vault, you're actually searching your organization’s message archive. This means:

  • Messages are available in Vault as soon as they're received by Gmail or posted to a Group.
  • You can use the same familiar search operators you use with Gmail.
  • Vault indexes approximately the first 250 pages of text in a message. 

More about message indexing and search

What types of attachments are indexed?

Compatible, text-based attachment file types (for example, files with .pdf, .xslx, and .docx extensions) are indexed for search.

What types of content are not processed for indexing?

Video, audio, image, and binary content are not processed for indexing. Images in attachments and emails are not processed for indexing.

Do search results displayed in Vault contain only the first megabyte of data?

No. Although approximately the first megabyte is indexed and searched, if there's a match, the entire email and any attachments display in Vault.

Does Vault retain, hold, and search all Groups messages?

Group owners are able to turn archiving on or off for their groups. You can use Vault to retain and search all messages in Groups where archiving is turned on. If a group owner turns archiving off, the messages from that group are still available in the mailboxes of licensed Vault users.

Classic Hangouts and Google Talk

Vault fully supports chats that occur within classic Hangouts and Google Talk. You can retain, search for, and place holds on:

  • Hangout chats with history turned on. G Suite administrators can control whether history is on or off, or they can allow users to decide. For details, see Chat history. Vault archives all chats that occur within Gmail, Google+, and mobile apps when history is on.
  • Google Talk chats that are on the record. G Suite administrators cannot force chats to be on the record. They can, however, disable chat history for a domain.
Note: Vault fully supports Hangouts chats that occur after this feature was launched. For Hangouts that took place before April 8, 2015, only on-the-record chats can be searched, exported, and placed on hold.

Chat information archived by Vault includes:

  • All users who participated in the chat.
  • All messages that were exchanged during the chat, plus links to any attachments.
  • Names of group hangouts. (Chat participants have the option of naming a group Hangout.) Chats between two users cannot be named.
  • Time the chat started and ended.

The following aren't archived by Vault:

  • Unaccepted invitations to chat. If a user does not participate in a chat, messages sent to that user are not archived.
  • Video calls.
  • Chats that occur within Google Docs.
  • Images sent through classic Hangouts.

How chats are archived

Vault groups all chat messages into a single thread. Messages are continuously added to the chat thread until:

  • three hours have elapsed since the last chat message was sent.
  • the thread exceeds 1,000 messages.

When you export a chat message, the entire thread is included when you download the export file.

Enable Hangouts support

For full support of history-on Hangouts chats:

  • Turn on Hangouts Chat for your domain.
  • Ensure that licensed Vault users have both Gmail and Hangouts enabled. Users who have access to Hangouts (such as mobile users of the Hangouts app) but do not have Gmail accounts cannot be archived. When you enable Gmail for an account that has only Hangouts turned on, Vault will only archive Hangouts that occur after Gmail is enabled. Earlier messages cannot be recovered.


You can use Vault to retain, hold, and search for files in your organization's Drives and Team Drives. Vault supports Google file types and non-Google file types such, as PDF, DOCX, and JPG.

Important information about Drive and retention

Retention coverage varies depending on the type of rule

Retention rules apply to files owned by and directly shared with users in the organizational unit to which the policy applies. This includes files in a Team Drive that are directly shared with a user, regardless of whether that user is a member of that Team Drive.

If Include Team Drives is checked, retention rules also apply to Team Drives that include members of the covered organizational unit.

When retention coverage expires, only files owned by those users are expunged

Retention rules retain all applicable files in a user’s Drive (including Team Drive files, if the rule was set up to include them). This includes files owned by or shared with users in the applicable organizational unit. However, when the retention coverage period expires, Vault expunges only the files owned by users of that organizational unit. Files shared from outside the organizational unit are never expunged.

Team Drives and retention

When you apply a custom retention rule to Team Drives:

  • A custom rule that covers All Team Drives affects retention coverage for all Team Drives in your domain.
  • A custom rule that covers specific Team Drives affects retention coverage only in the selected Team Drives.

Team Drive files can only be expunged by Team Drive-specific retention rules:

  • Retention rules retain all applicable files in a user’s Drive (including Team Drive files, if the rule was setup to include them). However, as Team Drive files are owned by the team and not by any specific user, only retention rules specific to Team Drive can expunge files in a Team Drive.
  • Rules that apply to users and have include Team Drives checked can only extend the lifecycle of Team Drive files.
The implementation of retention rules and the expiration of files in Drive can be subject to delays
  • When you create or update a retention rule, it can take up to three hours for the rule to propagate. Files deleted by users during this propagation period are not retained and cannot be retrieved.
  • When a retention coverage period expires, it can take up to 15 days for affected files to be removed from Drive.
Retention rules and holds apply only to files created by users in your domain

Files created outside your domain and shared with your users are not subject to your organization’s holds or retention policies.

Vault won’t let you create Drive retention rules with identical retention criteria

Each custom retention rule you create for files in Drive must: 

  • Have a unique last-modified or created date.
  • Apply to a unique set of users.

As an example, a conflict could occur if you have a rule that applies to an organizational unit, then you try to add a rule that applies to a Team Drive that all members of the organizational unit have access to. Vault rejects the new rule if it has the same created/last-modified date.

Additionally, you can use the Include Team Drives setting to make a retention rule unique. There’s no conflict for two rules with identical retention criteria if one rule includes Team Drives, and the other does not.

Files subject to multiple retention rules are always preserved according to the rule with the longest retention period.​

Some file types are excluded from retention coverage
Some file types have different retention needs than most Drive files. For this reason, the following file types are excluded from retention coverage:
Retention rules and files in trash
  • A moved-to-trash rule applies to both files that are in a user's trash and to files that were deleted when the user emptied trash.
  • A moved-to-trash rule only expunges files owned by the user or Team Drive to which it applies.
  • If a file in trash is subject to multiple retention rules, a moved-to-trash rule supersedes all other all other retention rules. If multiple moved-to-trash rules apply to a file, the file is retained according to the rule with the longest duration. Holds still take precedence over all retention rules.

Important information about Drive and holds

Coverage varies depending on how you configure the hold
  • A hold on Drive applies to files owned by and directly shared with the users or organizations covered by the hold. This includes files in a Team Drive that are directly shared with a user, regardless of whether the user is a member of that Team Drive.
  • If you apply a hold to Team Drives, it also applies to Team Drives where held users are members.
  • You can't place a Team Drive on hold. Instead you must place its members on hold and check the Include Team Drives box.
How does Team Drive affect a hold?
Files in a Team Drive aren't preserved by a hold if:
  • a Team Drive member:
    • moves a file out of a Team Drive, and that member isn't on hold.
    • removes a member that's currently on hold from the Team Drive, and there are no other Team Drive members on hold.
  • no Team Drive member is on hold.


Important information about Drive and search

How does Vault search for files in Drive?

Vault searches Drive for all files owned by and directly shared with the users specified in your search entry. This includes files in a Team Drive that are directly shared with a user, regardless of whether the user is a member of that Team Drive.

Vault also searches files that are:

  • Shared with a group the user belongs to
  • Shared with the domain 
  • Shared publicly
Can I search Team Drives?

Yes, when you search for files in Drive, you have two options:

  • When you're searching for files belonging to specific users or organizational units, you can check a box to include results from their associated Team Drives in your search.
  • You can use Vault to find Team Drives. You can then search selected Team Drives for files.
Which part of files in Drive are searchable?

You can search for words and phrases that occur in file names and in the contents of files. Vault indexes the first 100 pages of text files and the first 10 pages of text in image PDFs.

You can search text within the following file types:

Note: G Suite for Government customers cannot search the contents of files. However, they can search file names and other file properties.

Vault doesn't index video, audio, image, or binary files.

What file types can I preview with Vault for Drive?

You can preview these files:

  • Google files such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Drawings
  • User-uploaded files such as .docx, .pdf, and .xlsx
Can I search within the revision history of a document?

No. Currently you can search only the most recent version of a file. However, you can enter a version date during search to view and export Google files as they existed on that date. Versioning is not supported in non-Google files like PDF and .docx.

A file's version history doesn't include changes to:

  • the title
  • who it was shared with
  • comments
Can Vault search Google Drive for my entire domain?

Vault can search up to 5,000 users (individual users or members of organizational units).

How does Vault handle files that are shared with but not owned by a user?

Vault can search, export, retain, and hold all files that are in a user’s Drive, which can include unopened files, as well as Team Drive files if they were shared specifically with that user. Files owned by a user outside of your domain, even if shared with a user in your domain, are not subject to your organization’s holds and retention rules.

Team Drive files are owned by the associated team and are shared with all team members. As such, Vault can also search, export, retain, and hold files in Team Drives associated with a user

Hangouts Chat

You can use Vault to retain, hold, and search messages sent using Hangouts Chat. 

Important information about Hangouts Chat and retention

Retention rules for classic Hangouts are in effect until you create a Hangouts Chat rule

Until you set at least one retention rule for Hangouts Chat, Vault applies classic Hangouts retention policies to all direct messages (DM) in Hangouts Chat. We implemented this temporary solution to ensure Vault retains and expunges chat messages as required to meet your organization's ediscovery needs.

Classic Hangouts retention rules have no effect on conversations in Hangouts Chat rooms. 

We strongly encourage you to create retention rules for Hangouts Chat as soon as possible. 
Additional information about the relationship between classic Hangouts and Hangouts Chat:
  • As soon as you create a Hangouts Chat retention rule, DMs are no longer subject to classic Hangouts rules. Messages and rooms not covered by a rule are retained indefinitely. Messages deleted by users are expunged approximatley 30 days later.
  • Hangouts Chat users can exchange messages with classic Hangouts users. These messages are stored in both systems as separate copies of the same data. Vault treats these two systems as distinct entities, each with its own retention rules.
  • Retention rules you create for Hangouts Chat never affect the retention of classic Hangouts messages.
  • Images sent through classic Hangouts aren't retained. 

Retention coverage varies depending on the type of rule

  • The default retention rule applies to all DMs and all rooms.
  • A custom retention rule applied to an organizational unit only covers DMs. Rooms aren't covered.
  • A custom retention rule applied to all rooms only covers rooms. DMs aren't covered.

Direct messages are owned by both participants

A DM is owned by both participants in the chat. If the participants are covered by different retention policies, Vault retains messages based on the rule with the longest duration.

When a retention period expires, Vault expunges all covered Hangouts Chats

A retention rule that removes messages will expunge all messages when the retention period expires. There is no option to set retention rules that only expunge messages deleted by users.

Important information about Hangouts Chat and holds

A hold preserves conversations in rooms only if a held user sent a message

A hold applied to a user covers only conversations in which that user sent at least one message. Conversations in a room where the user wasn't an active participant aren't included in the hold, even though that user may have viewed messages.
Direct messages (DMs) sent to a user on hold are included in the hold even if the user doesn't reply.

You can't place an entire room on hold

Rooms in Hangouts Chat can't be restricted to an individual organizational unit, meaning anyone in your domain can be invited to any room. Vault won't hold messages sent by room participants who aren't covered by a hold. 

Important information about Hangouts Chat and search

Vault can preview a maximum of 1000 messages per conversation

While Vault can export as many messages as your search will yield, previews are limited to 1000 messages. If you want to preview a large number of messages, use search terms and other criteria to reduce the results to smaller groups of messages.

Vault retrieves a conversation only if a searched participant sends at least one message

Vault returns only DMs and conversations where a participant has sent at least one message. Conversations where a participant may have viewed messages but didn't respond aren't included in search results.

Held data searches don't include rooms unless a user on hold sends a message

When you search held data in a matter, Vault returns a conversation from a room only if a user on hold sent at least one message.
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