O365 Group Retention Policy - Group Deletion


I am finding orphaned modern experience SharePoint sites, not connected to an O365 group. What I have determined is that a retention policy is in place for O365 groups, which I assume affects SharePoint as an associated resource. When in SharePoint admin, all of the sites note "This site has a compliance policy set to block deletion". My questions are as follows:

  1. Does a retention policy on O365 groups affect associated resources like SharePoint, where the group can be deleted, but the SharePoint site remains, following the retention policy deletion period?
  2. If the O365 group is deleted, does it break the link that ties all groups' resources together and that is why I am finding the "orphaned" SharePoint sites?
  3. Do I have to remove the retention policy before I am able to delete the SharePoint site (many are empty as they were created as part of  O365 group testing)?
  4. If a group was created as part of a Teams creation, can the Teams owner delete the group - or better yet, who can delete Groups?
  5. If normal "users" can't delete O365 groups, what is the purpose of having a retention policy on O365 groups?
3 Replies

1) Depends on the policy scope, but generally speaking yes - if applied to a Group the policy covers both the mailbox and the SPO site

2) Yes, as different workloads handle retention differently. In particular, Exchange will turn the group mailbox into "inactive" one, but SPO will keep the site. 

3) Again depends on the policy, but generally speaking yes

4) They can, but it depends on which "endpoint" they will use

5) The purpose of retention policy is compliance, and you definitely don't want end users to be able to bypass functionalities that relate to compliance


@Vasil Michev 

Thanks for the reply. The retention policy is very simple:

  • applied to all Office 365 groups
  • retain for 3 years
  • do not delete after this time
  • retain or delete the content based on when it was created

We have many O365 groups created for the purpose of Planner and not one of them have documents in the SPO sites. We have many test O365 groups that were created, that created SPO sites and none of it is needed because the group was a test. With the deletion of the O365 group, the empty SPO site remains.


If SPO keeps the site, while the mailbox and O365 group is deleted, how can I remove these orphaned SPO sites? Remove the policy, delete the SPO and then establish the policy again?



That's one way to go, you should also be able to exclude them from the policy while keeping it active.