Division of IT: IT Training

Email Records Retention

The two tutorials below provide information on the records retention folders that are available in your email.

Email Records Management - Part 1: Your New Records Retention Folders

Email Records Management - Part 2: How to Use Your New Records Retention Folders

Records Retention Policy

Maintenance and disposal of electronic records, as determined by their content, is the responsibility of the creator and/or receiver of the record and must be in compliance with the University's approved records retention and disposition schedules. Failure to properly maintain electronic records may expose the University and individuals to legal risks.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do I know which email messages are records?

A: Email records are messages that relate to your department's official duties or activities. They document decisions, policies, procedures, resource expenditures, operations and/or delivery of services and provide evidence of business activities, events or transactions. Visit the email records identification guidelines for more information.

Q: How should I manage my emails that are records?

A: The new email environment has five retention folders that email users can use for storing records. They are located under "Managed Folders."

Retention Folders

Five Retention Folders

If you have emails that are records, you should move those emails into the appropriate 1 year, 3 year, 5 year, 10 year or Historical Records folder once they become inactive (a project ends, end of a fiscal year, a decision is final, a contract or grant ends). The retention period for an email begins after you move the email into the folder (e.g., when you move an email to the 01 Year folder, it will expire 1 year later). The retention period is not related to the date on the email. Once the record retention expires, the email system will still retain the email in the folder but the message will have visual indication that it is expired by striking through the email message.

Expired Email Messages Showing Strikethrough

Expired Email Messages Showing Strikethrough

Note: Strikethroughs will only appear in Outlook 2007 and 2010 for Windows on computers that are configured for Exchange (not IMAP or POP accounts). Strikethroughs will not appear in email clients for the Mac or in Webmail on either PC or Mac computers.

Q: How do I know how long a record needs to be kept?

A: Records Management publishes a records retention guide that tells you how long you need to keep each type of record and what to do with the record at the end of its retention.

Q: Why should I eliminate emails that I don't need or that are very old?

A: Do you keep every piece of snail mail you receive? Keeping emails that are old or no longer relevant increases the risk of the following:

  • Running afoul of privacy laws and the likelihood of privacy breaches.
  • Having to produce documents that should have been deleted according to the retention schedule for litigation or open records requests.
  • Causing negative consequences to the University for inconsistent application of retention policies.

Keeping emails that you don't need increases the volume of information that must be maintained as well as the time it takes to search for and retrieve the information you need for business and legal purposes. In addition to increasing risk and liability, keeping emails you don't need increases the cost to the University. Increased costs are incurred in the following areas:

  • Litigation.
  • Responding to open records requests.
  • Labor and infrastructure to maintain the email system.
  • Loss of user productivity to departments to manage, search for, and retrieve needed information.

Q: What may happen if I don't retain records according to policy or can't find my records when needed?

A. Failure to properly maintain and dispose of electronic records may expose the University and individuals to legal risks. As explained above, keeping records longer than you should exposes the University to a number of risks. Not keeping records according to records retention policies or not being able to locate and retrieve them when necessary also increases the risk and cost of litigation and compliance. Not knowing if or where records are stored reduces productivity by increasing time spent looking for and retrieving needed information. The University and employees can be held liable for not being able to produce records when requested or for destroying records that should have been kept.


If you have questions that are not answered by the information on these pages, contact the IT Training department.