How to Set up Default Retention Rules in Google Vault

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

The first step in your Google Vault setup

  • Your very first step in Google Vault should be to set up your default retention rules.

What do default retention rules do?

  • Default retention rules allow you to ensure that all data in specific services is stored in Google Vault.
  • It will remain there even after users delete it from their accounts. 

Who do default retention rules apply to?

  • They only apply to users who have a Vault license assigned.

The priority of default retention rules

  • Default retention rules have the lowest possible retention priority in Vault.
  • This means that if you have any custom retention rules or holds that match the same type of data as your default retention rules, the custom retention rules and holds will apply.

Default retention rules limits

  • You can only apply default retention rules to all users in your organization.
  • Also, you can only have one default retention rule for each service.

How to set up default retention rules in Google Vault step-by-step with images

Step 1

How To Set Up Default Retention Rules In Google Vault - Step 1

To configure a default retention rule for all licensed users in your account, open Vault at and click Retention.

Step 2

How To Set Up Default Retention Rules In Google Vault - Step 2

Under the DEFAULT RULES tab on top, click a service.

In this example, you will set up a default retention rule for Gmail data, but you can also set it up for Drive, Groups, Chat, Meet, and Sites by following the same steps.

Step 3

How To Set Up Default Retention Rules In Google Vault - Step 3

Under Duration, select Retention period to choose how long to keep messages (or other data if you selected another service).

It’s usually best to set this to Indefinitely. This way, all data gets retained in Vault even after users remove it from services. Data stored in Vault doesn’t take up any storage space.

You can also choose to set a Retention period. Click CREATE.

Step 4

How To Set Up Default Retention Rules In Google Vault - Step 4

If you chose to specify a Retention period, you must now select a number of days. 

Then you must also choose the Action after the expiration of the number of days you specify.

The retention period starts when emails are sent or received.

Purge only permanently deleted messages means that after the retention period passes, all messages that users have removed from their Trash folder in Gmail will be lost for good. 

Purge messages from Gmail mailboxes and permanently deleted messages. This rule purges drafts. – means that after the retention period passes, all emails will be purged from users’ Gmail as well as from Vault.

When you’re ready, click CREATE.

Step 5

How To Set Up Default Retention Rules In Google Vault - Step 5

Check the boxes to confirm that you are aware that:

  1. Custom rules and holds still apply and have higher priority than the default retention rule.
  2. After expiration, the rule purges emails that you may not be able to recover. 


Step 6

How To Set Up Default Retention Rules In Google Vault - Step 6

Your default retention rule is now active. Next, you can set the default retention rules for other services.

To remove a default retention rule, hover over it and click Delete on the right.

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