Outlook 2013 Retention Policies

Submitted by: Matt Banning (PTG Project Engineer), Outsourced IT Support and Office 365 Specialist

Ever wonder what that “Assign Policy” button at the top of Outlook means? As an outsourced IT support company, PTG is asked these types of questions all the time, so we did some quick research and thought we’d share the results with you.

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In short, a retention policy is a rule that you can apply to an item which will automatically perform some action after a given number of days. Sound confusing? Its not- a simple example would be to delete all items in my ‘Drafts’ folder after 180 days. As soon as any item in that folder reaches that age limit- it would be automatically moved to the Deleted Items folder.

So what can I do? You can set retention tags to:

  1. Delete and allow Recovery
  2. Permanently Delete
  3. Move to Archive

Got it yet? Good- it’s going to get more confusing now. Retention policies are great because they can be set on a folder or on an individual message. By default- everyone has a default set of retention policies applied to their mailboxes. These policies are set by your administrator and give you a range of options to choose from. Most default policies give you the below options. If you don’t see an option for the choice you want, you’ll have to contact your administrator and have them modify the policy.

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Okay, I understand them but how do I use them? Simply click the appropriate policy button and choose the option you want.


Appropriate button?  What? BE AWARE- there are two retention policy buttons. One on the HOME tab…

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And one on the FOLDER tab…

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The button on the HOME tab applies the retention policy to an individual or multiple messages (hold shift to select multiple messages). The button on the FOLDER tab applies the retention policy to the entire folder.

What about Litigation Holds you ask? If you have a litigation hold enabled for a user’s mailbox- permanently deleted items are retained in the user’s Recoverable Items folder. Once the litigation hold is removed, the message will be deleted. While the litigation hold is still in effect (the message is still in the Recoverable Items folder) a multi-mailbox search WILL return the results of the ‘permanently deleted’ messages.

**One important note- you will NOT be able to apply retention policies to the following folders: Inbox, Deleted Items, or Sent Items. This is by design and must be changed by your administrator. You can, however, apply a retention tag to any of the items within the folder**

About Palmetto Technology Group

Palmetto Technology Group (PTG), an Office 365 Specialist, is headquartered in Greenville, SC. PTG has been recognized as a Microsoft Cloud Accelerate Partner, achieving Silver Messaging competency in Collaborations and Portals, as well as a Microsoft Cloud Deployment Partner. Building and maintaining networks and infrastructure for businesses, PTG serves as an outsourced IT support team. In addition to upgrading and enhancing technology solutions, PTG also offers basic computer repair services.

In addition to being one of the top 100 Microsoft Cloud Partners and the Cloud Partner of the Year for the East Region in 2013, PTG has received numerous accolades for its IT and cloud solutions, including Rookie of the Year (2013), MSPmentor’s Top 501 managed service providers and Cloud Champions Club (2012-2013).

To learn more about the cloud, Office 365 pricing, Office 365 trials, or an Office 365 demo, please visit www.office365migrations.com or  www.palmettotg.com, or call 864-552-1291. You may also connect with PTG on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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