Retention labels behavior, need suggestion please?

Occasional Contributor

Hello Everyone,


Can someone please provide suggestion on how to remove current retention labels/policies? 

We have two policies one for 3yrs and other for 6yrs out of which 3yrs retention policy is an label. These policies are applied to OneDrive tenant level. 

And currently 120-130 users are already applied with these policies as they are the ones enabled with OneDrive. 


Now we came to a position where we want to remove these two policies and create a new policy called 8yrs retention policy. 


My question is that, even if we delete the old policies, will it still reflect/affect to already applied documents in OneDrive? is there a solution to remove this label and policy reflection completely from the tenant? can anyone please suggest the best solution and approach on this? 

9 Replies

Removing the policy should leave the items stamped with their corresponding labels, unless a new policy is in effect. If you remove the labels as well, they will no longer be a subject to their corresponding actions, so you might end up soft/hard-deleting some items.


If the items were already deleted and held in the Preservation library, they will be kept for at least 30 days, as detailed for example here:


Adding @Tony Redmond to keep me in check, as I'm writing this in a hurry with angry girlfriend over my shoulder :D


Are you using a retention policy to broadly apply a retention period across all OneDrive accounts or a retention label to apply a retention period to selected documents?


If a policy, then you can simply extend the retention period and all will be well.


If a label, you can extend the retention period as well.


Don't remove a label. If you want to retire a label, remove it from any retention label policy that it features in so that people can't apply it anymore.


@Vasil Michev , thanks for your reply. Which means in my scenario, I am deleting a label which is set to 5yrs delete only and making changes to existing default OneDrove Tenant level 
policy called "3years delete" to 5yrs delete , then documents which are exclusively applied with a label

previously will still reflect to that deleted label policy? Because here I am not creating any label anymore instead I am just making changes to an OneDrive Tenant level policy. 


@Joseph8888 When you apply a specific retention label to a document, it takes precedence over a general policy applied to a OneDrive account. If you change the general policy to extend the retention period, the new extended period will govern any document not assigned a specific label,.


@Tony Redmond and @Vasil Michev ,


Hi Tony,


AT present we have both
1. Retention policy (OneDrive Tenant)for certain years, which I will extent as per your suggestion. 

2. Label(name: 5years) which is added to a retention label policy (Name: 5years delete). We want to delete this retention label policy as well as Label. is this right approach? Do we need to remove only bale from the retention label policy only? 

ex: 1. if we delete the label and label policy, will existing documents be affected or will be now pointed back to tenant level retention policy? 

2. If we only remove label from retention label policy, then existing documents will still be pointed to this old policy or new tenant level policy? 



@Tony Redmond . What about already assigned label documents? will that also be governed by general policy after the change? we don't want old documents to still reflect deleted/remove Label. 


@Joseph8888 I would remove the label from any policy that publishes it to OneDrive. It will stop users applying it to any other document. Documents that have the label assigned today will keep it. I would then extend the general policy to have the retention period you need.


@Tony Redmond ,


Thanks Tony, so there is no other way to remove that label from those documents either through powershell or from Microsoft back-end? We cannot clean up those things right? 

Best Response confirmed by Joseph8888 (Occasional Contributor)

@Joseph8888 You can clean up labels.


First, you unpublish them by removing the labels from all policies. The labels stay in place on the assigned documents.

Then you delete the label from the SCC (or with PowerShell). This puts the label into a pending deletion state.

Next, you wait for Office 365 background jobs to recognize that the label no longer exists. Eventually (could be a couple of days) the penny will drop and the labels will be removed from the documents. At this point, the documents will be governed by the general policy applicable to the site/account.