Flowchart to determine when an item will be retained or permanently deleted

Microsoft 365 licensing guidance for security & compliance.

Use the following flowchart to apply the principles of retention to an item to determine if the system will retain it or permanently delete it as a result of a retention label or retention policy.

This logic flow is used for an item when either of the following conditions apply:

  • There is more than one retention policy applied
  • There is a retention label and one or more retention policies

When an item is subject to an eDiscovery hold, it will always be retained before the decision flows for retention policies and a retention label.

If any of the terms used in this flowchart are unfamiliar to you, see Learn about retention policies and retention labels.

Flowchart to determine when an item will be retained or permanently deleted.

Note

It's important to distinguish between the longest retention period for the item vs. the longest specified period in a retention policy or label. And similarly, between the shortest expiry date for the item vs. the shortest specified period in a retention policy.

For more information, see the explanation after the graphic in the principles of retention section.