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Supported data types

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

  Retain Hold Search and Export
Mail checkmark checkmark checkmark
Hangouts and Google Talk checkmark checkmark checkmark
Groups checkmark checkmark checkmark
Drive checkmark checkmark checkmark

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.

Hangouts and Google Talk

Vault fully supports chats that occur within 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.

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.

More about Drive search, holds, and retention

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.

You can use search operators to find just files you're looking for.

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 .xslx
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.

How long does it take for retention rules to take affect?

The implementation of retention rules and holds, as well as the expiration of files in Drive, can be subject to delays:

  • When you create or update a retention rule or hold, it can take up to three hours for the rule to take effect and protect the relevant files. Files deleted by users during this period are not retained and cannot be retrieved.
  • When a retention coverage period expires or a hold is removed, it can take up to 15 days for affected files to be removed from Drive.
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