Official File retention policy for OneDrive for Business and SharePoint

Copper Contributor

Does anyone have information on the length of time files in OneDrive for Business and SharePoint online are retained after an end user deletes them ?


Is there a way of placing unlimited retention on files ?




13 Replies
Items are removed from the recycle bin(s) after 90 days, starting from the original delete date, independently from the recycle bin in which they are (first or second level). Notice that the items do not automatically move from the first level recycle bin to the second level recycle bin. The second level bin is rather an "administrative" bin which is used to recovery items that users have mistakenly deleted from the first level bin. Give a look to this:

In addition to what @Salvatore Marco Biscari said:


Supposing you have an E3 subscription, you can use Preservation policies to preserve content stored in OneDrive/SharePoint for longer time periods or even indefinitely. It's pretty much the same as putting the content on E-discovery hold. The only difference is that the content gets deleted when the user account is de-provisioned. More info here:


However, last time I checked, there is a small UX issue with these Preservation/E-discovery holds - folders in OneDrive/SharePoint cannot be deleted unless they are empty. Users gets an error message if he tries to delete a folder with some files within it (NGSC/mobile clients work fine, web UI has this issue)

There are two scenarios here: Does the user account still exist, or will it be deleted?


If the former, as @Pavel Otych mentions, you can use a preservation policy. If the latter, OneDrive for Business content will be deleted 30 days after the account is deleted. You will need to migrate the OneDrive content to a new location in order to preserve it.


The other possibility is to apply a legal hold to content. Then it cannot be deleted by a user and will not be deleted even if the OneDrive account is deleted.

Hi Erica,


Can you create a preservation policy for accounts that do not exist anymore?  One of the problems we are trying to solve is what to do with OD4B data after an employee leaves the company and their license is removed.  We don't want to lose it after the 30 days, but we also don't want to have download indivudual users' OD4B files and keep them on prem.  Idealy, a preservation policy would work.


If this is possible, do you know if there are any instructions how to to set something like this up?



I've heard that when a person leaves the company, you can set up OneDrive so it would automatically notify the persons Manager (based on the org chart) and they have 30 days until to get content before it's officially purged.  I can't find documenation on this, do you know where that is or can verify if that's true?

best response confirmed by VI_Migration (Silver Contributor)

 I found some documentation here,  Is the Manager determined through the org chart?

Thanks for this , that is what I was looking for.

You can create Information Policies that automatically act on specified files, in your case, moving them to a permanent Record Center or Document Center, see for some instructions.

seems that content stay if enable before disabling account:


But if your organization needs to retain mailbox content for former employees, you can turn the mailbox into an inactive mailbox by placing the mailbox on Litigation Hold or applying an Office 365 retention policy to the mailbox in the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center and then removing the corresponding Office 365 account. The contents of an inactive mailbox are retained for the duration of the Litigation Hold placed on the mailbox or the retention period of the Office 365 retention policy applied to it before the mailbox was deleted. You can still recover the corresponding user account for a 30-day period. However, after 30 days, the inactive mailbox is retained in Office 365 until the hold or retention policy is removed.

In case of user account that owns an OneDrive is deleted from Azure Active Directory:

  • Ownership of OneDrive will be transferred to the Manager (if the Manager property in Azure AD is available). If not, secondary owner (created by default during provisioning) will have full access to that OneDrive.
  • If the Manager Field is populated for the deleted account, the manager will receive an email message that states that the site will be removed after the retention period expires, and that access to the site is granted to the manager.
  • If the Manager field isn't populated for the user account and a secondary owner was configured in Setup My Sites under the User Profile section of the SharePoint admin center, the secondary owner contact will receive an email message that states that the site will be removed after the retention period expires, and that access to the site is granted to the user.
  • Seven days before the retention period expires, a second email message will be sent to the manager or secondary owner that states that the site will be deleted in seven days.
  • The default retention period is 30 days but this value can be modified by using the -OrphanedPersonalSitesRetentionPeriodparameter for the Set-SPOTenant cmdlet in the SharePoint Online Management Shell.
  • User profile should never be deleted manually from SharePoint admin center. If removed manually before OneDrive is removed, it will result an orphan OneDrive.
  • If the OneDrive site is put on hold as part of an eDiscovery case, the site won't be deleted by using this process until the hold is removed. Although an email message is sent as part of the site deletion process the site will remain on hold until the hold is removed.
  • The retention period for cleanup of OneDrive begins when a user account is deleted from Azure Active Directory. No other action will cause the cleanup process to occur including disablement of a user account or removal of a user’s license.

Keywords: OneDrive, User Profile, User Account

Hi @Dean Gross 


Bit of an old post i am replying to but do you know if these policies can also be applied in OneDrive for Business?


No, you can't use those information policies in OneDrive.

Instead, use Office 365 retention labels for OneDrive.
1 best response

Accepted Solutions
best response confirmed by VI_Migration (Silver Contributor)

 I found some documentation here,  Is the Manager determined through the org chart?

View solution in original post