Action required: Set up holds and retention for Hangouts Chat

Hangouts Chat and Hangouts Meet together are the next generation of Hangouts. Next year they will replace the original version (classic Hangouts) in G Suite.

Vault administrators must take action to prepare for this transition.

Classic Hangouts messages with history on are subject to Gmail holds and retention. This is because classic Hangouts messages are stored in the same system that stores email messages for Gmail. Hangouts Chat, however, uses a separate system for storing chat messages, and it has its own holds and retention rules in Vault.

As part of this transition, Gmail holds and retention rules will stop protecting chat messages in classic Hangouts. Instead, Chat holds and retention rules will protect chat messages in both classic Hangouts and Hangouts Chat.

Because classic Hangouts and Hangouts Chat are two separate sets of data, Vault admins might need to search both Gmail and Hangouts Chat to find all chat messages related to a matter. Note that 1:1 direct messages are synced between classic Hangouts and Hangouts Chat. You can search for these messages through either Gmail or Hangouts Chat.

Transition timeline

Phase 1: Prepare Vault—January 2019 until late 2019

For any domain that has at least one hold or retention rule for Gmail, Google automatically creates a new custom retention rule that preserves all direct messages in Hangouts Chat indefinitely. This is to protect your messages in classic Hangouts when the next stage of the transition occurs.

Important: to avoid over-retention of chat messages, a Vault admin must: 

  1. Create new Hangouts Chat retention rules.
  2. If you need existing Gmail holds to continue preserving chat messages, copy those Gmail holds to Hangouts Chat.
  3. Delete the custom rule that Google automatically created for you.

    Note: After you complete these actions, the alert about the automatically-created chat retention rule remains visible in Vault.

​See detailed instructions here.

Phase 2: Vault consolidation and early transition—April 16 2019 to 1st half of 2020

  • Gmail holds and retention rules stop protecting messages in classic Hangouts. All Chat and classic Hangouts messages are protected by Hangouts Chat holds and retention rules.
  • A G Suite admin can apply to join the Accelerated Transition Program if your organization wants an early start on migrating to Hangouts Chat.

Phase 3: Anyone can transition—first half 2020

  • A new setting will let G Suite admins turn off classic Hangouts in the Google Admin console.
  • External chat and Gmail integration will launch to GA, and improvements will be made to voice and video calling.

Phase 4: Everyone needs to transition—Late 2020

  • All remaining classic Hangouts G Suite users will be moved to Hangouts Chat, and G Suite users won't be able to use the classic Hangouts user interfaces.

Take action before chat transition

To ensure Vault continues to meet your organization's retention and eDiscovery requirements, Vault admins need to:

  1. Evaluate existing Gmail retention rules and determine the appropriate strategy for retaining messages in classic Hangouts and Hangouts Chat.
  2. Ask a G Suite admin to:
    • Confirm that Gmail is turned on for all classic Hangouts users. Classic Hangouts messages are stored in the same system that stores email messages for Gmail. Vault can't apply holds and retention rules to classic Hangouts messages sent or received by accounts that have Gmail turned off. Classic Hangouts messages sent before Gmail is enabled can't be recovered.
    • (Optional) Turn Hangouts Chat history on. Retention rules and holds apply only to rooms and to DMs that were sent with history on. A G Suite admin can control whether history is on or off for DMs, or they can allow users to decide. Neither admins nor users can turn off history in a room.
  3. Create retention rules as required to meet the needs you identified in Step 1.
  4. Create new holds in both Gmail and Hangouts Chat if you need to preserve chat messages while this transition is in progress.
  5. Learn about how to create holds for Hangouts Chat and understand how they differ from Gmail holds. For example, you can't create holds for Hangouts Chat that are based on search terms or date ranges.
  6. Identify which existing Gmail holds must be recreated for Hangouts Chat.
  7. Once you have set your preferred retention rules and holds for Hangouts Chat, remove the indefinite retention rule that may be overriding your rules.
  8. Notify other Vault users about this change. For example, people who use Vault to search for messages may need to search both Gmail and Hangouts Chat to find all chat messages related to a matter.

Note: After you complete these actions, the alert about the automatically-created chat retention rule remains visible in Vault.

1. Set retention rules for Hangouts Chat

To avoid over-retention of chat messages, you must complete the following steps before April 16, 2019.

Expand all Collapse all Review your organization's Gmail retention policies

Before your organization transitions to Hangouts Chat, you need to:

  • Review your organization's Gmail retention policies and determine which rules should continue to apply to chat messages after the transition to Hangouts Chat is complete.
  • Understand the key differences between Gmail retention and Hangouts Chat retention. For example, you can't create retention rules for Hangouts Chat that are based on search terms.
  • Confer with appropriate people in your organization who can determine which rules are needed to properly retain messages in Hangouts Chat.
Set the default retention rule for Hangouts Chat
  1. Sign in to Vault.
  2. In the left navigation, click Retention.
  3. Click Create Rule.
  4. Choose where to apply the rule: Hangouts Chat.
  5. Choose an entity:
    • Click organizational unit and choose a unit from the drop-down menu. The rule applies only to direct messages that include a member of the organizational unit (not rooms).
    • Click all rooms to create a rule that applies all rooms in the domain (not direct messages).
  6. Choose how long to keep messages:
    • Choose indefinitely to permanently retain messages covered by this rule. Click Save to create the retention rule. You're done!
    • To discard messages after a period of time, enter the number of days, from 1 to 36,500.

    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.

  7. Click Save to create a retention rule that expunges all affected messages. Vault asks you to confirm you understand the effects of this retention rule. Check the boxes and click Confirm to create the rule.
Set custom retention rules for Hangouts Chat
  1. Sign in to Vault.
  2. Open a Gmail retention rule that covers classic Hangouts messages.
  3. In a new browser window, click Retention > Create rule.
  4. Choose where to apply the rule: Hangouts Chat.
  5. Choose whether to apply to rule to DMs from an organizational unit or to messages to all rooms in your organization.
  6. Choose how long to keep messages.
    • Choose indefinitely to permanently retain messages covered by this rule. Click Save to create the retention rule. You're done!
    • To discard messages after a period of time, enter the number of days, from 1 to 36,500.
    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. 
  7. Click Save to create a retention rule that expunges all messages. Vault asks you to confirm you understand the effects of this retention rule. Check the boxes and click Confirm to create the rule.

2. Copy Gmail holds to Hangouts Chat

You have several options for copying Gmail holds to Hangouts Chat. You must complete this process before April 16, 2019.

Expand all Collapse all Use Vault to manually copy a single Gmail hold to Hangouts Chat
  1. Sign in to Vault.
  2. Open a matter that includes a Gmail hold that applies to classic Hangouts messages. 
  3. Click an existing hold, and then click Edit hold to reveal its details.
  4. Open the same matter in a separate browser window.
  5. Click Create hold.
  6. (Suggestion) Use the same name as the existing Gmail hold, appended with "_hangoutschat"
  7. Choose the type of hold: Hangouts Chat.
  8. Use the down arrow to apply the hold to either individual accounts or to an entire organizational unit:
    1. Accounts—enter one or more email addresses for the accounts that are subject to this hold.
    2. Organization—Choose an organizational unit from the drop-down list.

    Note that Vault doesn't support additional conditions like Sent date and Terms for holds in Hangouts Chat.

  9. (Optional) Check the box to include conversations from rooms.
  10. Click Save to create the hold.

Repeat these steps for any additional Gmail holds in this matter that apply to classic Hangouts.

Use Vault to copy multiple Gmail holds to Hangouts Chat
  1. Sign in to Vault.
  2. Review your list of matters. Vault uses a warning icon to highlight matters that might need to be copied. 
  3. Check the boxes for the matters you want to copy. You can copy up to 20 holds at a time.
  4.  Click Copy holds to Hangouts Chat.
  5. (Optional) Check the box to include conversations in rooms.
  6. Check the box to acknowledge that you understand the key differences between Gmail retention and Hangouts Chat retention.
Use APIs to copy multiple Gmail holds to Hangouts Chat

A developer can use Vault APIs to read existing Gmail holds and create duplicate holds for Hangouts Chat. The basic process is as follows:

  1. The developer runs a command that generates a list of all Gmail holds.
  2. The developer reviews the list with Vault admins to decide:
    • how to handle Gmail holds that include date ranges or search terms.
    • whether the new holds should include conversations in rooms. 
  3. The developer creates 2 new files that contain lists of holds to create in Hangouts Chat, one for holds that include conversations in rooms, and one for holds that do not.
  4. The developer runs commands that upload the files to Google and generate the appropriate holds in Hangouts Chat.

3. Remove the custom retention rule created by Google

Once your organization has completed the tasks in the previous 2 sections, it's safe to remove the custom retention rule Vault automatically created in March:

  1. Sign in to Vault.
  2. In the left navigation, click Retention.
  3. Look for a custom rule that retains Hangouts Chat indefinitely.
  4. Check the box next to it and click Delete.
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