Set retention rules for Drive

Use retention rules to control how long files in Drive are retained for eDiscovery purposes.

Before you set retention rules, we strongly recommend you read about how retention works.

WARNING: An improperly configured retention rule can cause the immediate and irreversible purging of data from user accounts. Use caution when creating or changing retention rules. We recommend that you test new rules on a small group of users before applying them to your entire organization.

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.
    OR
  • 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.

Create a custom retention rule for Drive

Custom rules can be based on organizational units, date ranges, or specific search terms. Custom rules always override the default rule, and if multiple retention rules apply to a message or file, it is retained according to the rule with the longest retention coverage period.

To create custom retention rules:

  1. Sign in to Vault.
  2. In the left navigation, click Retention.
  3. Click Create Rule.
  4. Choose where to apply your rule: Drive.
  5. Choose an entity from the drop-down list:
    • Organizational unit:
      • Click the button to choose an organizational unit.
      • (Optional) Check the Include results from Team Drives box if you want this rule to apply to Team Drives associated with members of the organizational unit.
    • All Team Drives—Apply the rule to all Team Drives in the domain. 
    • Specific Team Drives—Click Find Team Drives to enter a member account and apply the rule to a specific Team Drive.
  6. Choose how long to keep files:
    • Click indefinitely to permanently retain files covered by this rule. Click Save to create the retention rule. You're done!
    • To discard files after a period of time, enter the number of days, from 1 to 36,500. Specify whether the rule will be based on when each file was
      • created
      • last modified
      • moved to trash
  7. Choose what to do with files past the duration you selected:
    • Choose the first option to expunge just the files that users have already deleted.
    • Choose the second option to expunge all files. This includes files that are in users’ Drives. It also includes data that has already been deleted.
  8. Click Preview to display a list of files that will be covered by this retention rule. Examine the list to verify that you've set the rule correctly. Make sure it does not permanently delete data that users may need.
    Warning: Vault immediately begins the process of purging data that exceeds the retention coverage period as soon as you submit a new rule. This can include data users expect to keep. Do not proceed to the next step until you’re sure the rule is configured correctly. 
  9. Click Save to create a retention rule that expunges files. Vault asks you to confirm you understand the effects of this retention rule. Check the boxes and click Confirm to create 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 don't automatically include email aliases. If you want to include email aliases, you must add them to the Terms field.
  • Renamed users—Custom retention rules aren't 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 data. Data is retained according to the most recent modification to the retention rule.

Set the default retention rule for Drive

The default retention rule applies to all files that are not covered by a custom rule or a hold. This includes files on My Drive and in Team Drives.

To set the default retention rule for your organization:

  1. Sign in to Vault.
  2. In the left navigation, click Retention.
  3. Under Default retention rules, click Drive.
  4. Check the Set a default retention rule for Drive box.
  5. Choose how long to keep files:
    • Choose indefinitely to permanently retain all files. Click Save to create the retention rule. You're done!
    • To discard files after a period of time, enter the number of days, from 1 to 36,500. Specify whether the rule will be based on when each file was created or when it was last modified.
  6. Choose what to do with files past the duration you selected:
    • Choose the first option to expunge just the files that users have already deleted.
    • Choose the second option to expunge all files. This includes files that are in users’ Drives. It also includes data that has already been deleted.
    Warning: Vault immediately begins the process of purging data that exceeds the default retention coverage period as soon as you submit this rule. This can include data users expect to keep. Do not proceed to the next step until you’re sure the rule is configured correctly.
  7. Click Save to create a retention rule that expunges all files. Vault asks you to confirm you understand the effects of this retention rule. Check the boxes and click Confirm to create the rule.
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