What Are Retention Rules and Holds in Google Vault

Quick and easy-to-follow introduction for Google Workspace administrators

Introduction to Google Vault retention and holds: getting started

  • Retention and holds are two different settings you can configure in Google Vault to ensure you retain user data for as long as you need, even after users remove it from their accounts.

Google Vault retention

  • Retention ensures that your users’ data will be retained in Google Vault even after users delete it from Google services such as Gmail or Drive. 

When to set up retention

How long does retention last

  • After the retention period passes, any data protected by it gets permanently removed from Google’s servers.
  • You can also set retention indefinitely to keep users’ data in Vault as long as they exist as users in your account.
  • Once you delete a user, you also delete their Vault license, releasing their data from Vault. Make sure to export data before deleting users, as shown here.

How to set up retention

Google Vault holds

  • You can also set holds – they are similar to retention rules but have a higher priority, meaning that a hold will override any of your default and custom retention rules. 
  • You place a hold on specific users or OUs, and they always retain data indefinitely. 
  • ​For a hold to work on a user, you must have a Vault license assigned to the user and keep the user in your account (do not delete it – if you want to deactivate the account but still keep data in Vault, suspend the user instead, as shown here

When to set up holds

  • When specific data is really important and you need to retain it no matter what, you should create a hold
  • When you want to retain data without setting up a retention rule

How long do holds last

  • It can take up to 48 hours for expired messages to be removed from Gmail and up to 15 days for expired files to be removed from Drive.

How to set up a hold

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