SharePoint Retention Policy

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What is a retention policy?

A retention policy applied to a site will ensure that files or folders within the site cannot be permanently deleted before the duration of the retention policy has passed since the last modified date of the file or folder. For example, a folder with a 1 year retention policy applied to it cannot be permanently deleted until 1 year has passed from the last time it was modified.

Will content be automatically deleted if it is not modified within the retention period?

No. Content will not be deleted once it has reached the retention policy expiration duration. The files will not be deleted or modified by the policy in any way. Once the period expires, it is now possible to delete the file, but it will not be done automatically. 

What happens if a user attempts to delete a file within the retention policy duration?

The "delete" option will appear for users that have the ability to edit the file or folder. Once deleted, the content will be moved to the "preservation hold library" within the site and will remain there until the retention policy duration is reached, at which point it will be permanently deleted. Site owners can restore the content to the original location at any point before the retention policy expiration date.  The "preservation hold library" is created and can be accessed after at least one document is deleted.  The "preservation hold library" can be accessed by adding the following to the end of the URL of the site "/PreservationHoldLibrary/Forms/AllItems.aspx". 


The following retention periods can be applied to your SharePoint site upon request. 

  • 1-Year Retention Policy
  • 2-Year Retention Policy
  • 3-Year Retention Policy
  • 7-Year Retention Policy
  • Indefinite Retention Policy (Items will be retained forever, even if user deletes them)

To have a retention policy applied to your SharePoint please have your site collection admin or site owner get in touch with the Northwestern IT Service Desk at 847-491-4357 (1-HELP) or  Provide SharePoint site URL and desired retention policy.  



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Article ID: 2529
Thu 12/7/23 9:02 AM
Tue 4/16/24 9:33 AM