Neil Wells-West - 07.03.202320230307

Key Considerations for Data Retention and Preservation in Sharepoint Online


SharePoint Online is the cloud-based collaboration and document management platform within Microsoft 365 that allows users to store and share content, including files, documents, and other types of data.  

As organisations continue to rely on SharePoint Online to store critical information, data retention and preservation become increasingly important to ensure that information is preserved and available when needed. 

In this blog, I’ll explore the key topics of data retention and preservation in SharePoint Online and where the pitfalls are. 

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Data retention and preservation refer to the practices of retaining and protecting data for a specific period of time, typically for legal or compliance purposes.  

Data retention policies determine how long data should be kept and how it should be managed during that period, while data preservation ensures that data is protected and available when needed, even after the retention period has ended. 


Here are some of the key topics to consider when implementing data retention and preservation policies in SharePoint Online: 

  1. Understanding Regulatory Requirements: Organisations must understand regulatory requirements for data retention and preservation to ensure compliance with laws and regulations, such as HIPAA, GDPR, and CCPA. Compliance requirements vary by jurisdiction and industry, and organizations should consult with legal counsel to ensure compliance. 
  1. Developing Data Retention Policies: Data retention policies should be developed based on regulatory requirements, business needs, and the type of data being retained. Policies should specify how long data should be kept, who is responsible for managing it, and how it should be disposed of when the retention period has ended. 
  1. Implementing Retention Labels: Retention labels are used to apply data retention policies to specific types of content in SharePoint Online. They can be applied manually or automatically based on content type, location, or other criteria. Retention labels can also be used to apply legal holds to prevent the deletion of data that may be subject to litigation or investigation. 
  1. Archiving Data: Archived data is stored in a separate location from active data and can be accessed if needed for legal or compliance purposes. SharePoint Online provides several options for archiving data, including backup and restore, eDiscovery , and Records Management (part of Microsoft Purview).
  2. Ensuring Secure Access: Access to data should be restricted to authorised users to prevent unauthorised access, modification, or deletion of data. SharePoint Online provides several security features, such as permissions, conditional access, and data loss prevention, to help ensure secure access to data. 


Here are some common pitfalls to avoid when implementing data retention and preservation policies in SharePoint Online: 

  • Failure to Understand Regulatory Requirements: Failure to understand regulatory requirements for data retention and preservation can lead to non-compliance, resulting in fines, legal actions, or reputational damage.
  • Lack of Consistent Policies: Lack of consistent policies across the organisation can lead to confusion, inconsistency, and ineffective data management.
  • Inadequate Training: Inadequate training can lead to improper use of retention labels, inadequate archiving, or insecure access to data.
  • Insufficient Resources: Insufficient resources, such as personnel or infrastructure, can lead to inadequate data management, insufficient backups, or inadequate security measures.
  • Failure to Monitor and Review Policies: Failure to monitor and review data retention and preservation policies can lead to outdated policies, inadequate security measures, or ineffective data management practices. 


In today’s world, the importance of data retention and preservation cannot be overstated. As organizations continue to rely on SharePoint Online to store critical information, it becomes increasingly important to implement effective policies and avoid common pitfalls. Failure to do so can result in costly fines, legal actions, and reputational damage. But don’t worry, by understanding key topics and avoiding common pitfalls, you can ensure compliance with regulatory requirements, protect critical information, and maintain effective data management practices. Contact us at Insentra to learn more and take the first step towards effective data retention and preservation in SharePoint Online. For more insights on Microsoft 365, SharePoint Online and more, check out the Insentra blog

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