Place Google Groups on hold

As part of your Google Workspace data eDiscovery projects, you can use holds to preserve messages in Groups indefinitely to meet legal or preservation obligations. You can apply a hold to specific groups or all groups in your organization. Holds override retention rules, so data on hold is protected from your normal data governance rules that might purge it otherwise.

If your Google Workspace administrator deletes a user's account in the Admin console, the user's data is no longer available in Vault and cannot be restored. If you want to hold or retain a user's data, the user must have both Google Workspace and Vault licenses. Learn more about Preserving data for users.

Important information about Groups and holds

Before you set holds, we recommend you read Get started with holds in Google Vault and review the Google Groups messages supported in Vault.

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Messages in Groups are deleted when the group is deleted
When a group is deleted, messages in the group are also deleted, similar to what happens when you delete a user's account. Messages in Groups are deleted even when the deleted group was subject to a hold or retention rule. However, messages in Gmail that accounts receive through a subscription to a group aren't deleted and are subject to Gmail retention rules and holds.
Deleted messages on hold are always visible in Vault, but not visible to users

When a message that's on hold is deleted by a user or a retention rule, the user can't access the message anymore. However, as a Vault user with appropriate privileges, you can search for, preview, and export the message using Vault.

Avoid many or complex terms to refine a hold

To refine the messages that a hold covers, you can enter search terms. We strongly recommend that you first refine your holds by specific groups, then refine that smaller set with terms.

In rare cases, Google’s policy processing system might not scale if you set many broad-scoped holds that have complex sets of terms to refine the messages on hold. For example, you might reach the limit if you set several holds with scopes that include more than 100,000 accounts and that you refine with complex terms, such as multiple aliases and many AND/OR statements. If this happens, your organization may be temporarily blocked from creating any admin policies for Google Workspace, such as adding new users or applying new security rules.

Place a hold on messages in Groups

  1. Sign in to vault.google.com.
  2. Click Matters.
  3. If the matter already exists, click it to open it. Otherwise, create a matter:
    1. Click Create.
    2. Enter a name for the matter and, optionally, a description.
    3. Click Create.
  4. Click HoldsCreate.
  5. Enter a unique name for the hold.
  6. Click Choose serviceand then Groups.
  7. Click Continue.
  8. Select the scope of the hold:
    • Specific groups—Enter one or more group email addresses.
    • All groups—Messages in all groups are placed on hold.

      Note: We strongly recommend that you don’t select all groups or a specific group if you have many (more than 100,000) accounts in it, particularly if you enter terms to refine the hold.

  9. Click Continue.
  10. (Optional) Set the conditions for the hold:
    • Sent date—Enter dates to limit the hold to messages sent within the start and end dates.
      • To hold messages sent on or after a specific date, enter only a start date.
      • To hold message sent on or before a specific date, enter only an end date.
      • To hold messages no matter when they were sent, don't enter a start or end date.
    • Terms—Enter search terms and operators to apply the hold to only messages that match the terms.
  11. Click Create.

Edit a hold on Groups messages

You can change some hold parameters, but you can't change the service (Groups to another service) or the scope type (such as specific groups to all groups).

  1. Sign in to vault.google.com.
  2. Click Matters and then the matter that contains the hold.
  3. For holds that apply to specific groups, you can change the groups that are covered by the hold:
    1. Click Scope.
    2. Add or remove groups. If you remove all groups, you're prompted to delete the hold.
    3. Click Continue.
  4. To change the sent date range or terms, click Conditions.
    • Sent date—Expand or restrict the range of dates subject to hold.
    • Terms—Add or remove search terms and operators to change which messages are subject to the hold.
  5. Click Save.
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