Introduction to Retention Policy Under Information Management System in SharePoint List Settings

In the previous article, I have explained about Enterprise Metadata and Keywords settings, which can be used to organize our contents and capture the properties regarding any document or any items in SharePoint lists and libraries. In this article, I am going to talk about Retention Policy available in Information Management Policy of SharePoint lists and libraries. This less used but a most important feature of SharePoint. So let’s look into this in detail.

In this article, I am going to cover the following topics in detail:

  • Background
  • Introduction to Information Management Policy
  • Configuring Information Management Policy
  • Disable Information Management Policy
  • Summary


Consider a scenario where you have too many data entries on a daily basis in single lists. Let’s assume you make daily 100 entries and you know that only the last 10 days entries need to be maintained and the rest of the entries are not needed. So what you will do is, you filter the items by the last 10 days and the remaining items you will delete manually. That’s not a problem. But what happens if you have too many records and you want that the data older than 10 days should move to specific custom lists or document library or get deleted? Now if the amount of data is large then in that case it’s worrisome because moving or deleting large documents or items will take too much time and manual effort. This was only one scenario. The another scenario is that if the data is in a pending state after 10 days of creation then any responsible person should be notified so that the responsible person can take any action. In order to handle the above mentioned scenarios and many more, SharePoint provides a powerful feature known as “Information Management Policy”. Let’s see this in detail.


Microsoft defines Information Management Policy Settings (IMPS) as “An information management policy is a set of rules for a type of content. Information management policies enable organizations to control and track things like how long content is retained or what actions users can take with that content. Information management policies can help organizations comply with legal or governmental regulations, or they can simply enforce internal business processes.”

So we have seen that Information Management Policy are applied over contents in SharePoint. Using these settings, we can define or configure the life cycle of the contents in SharePoint. The scenario discussed in the Background section can be easily achievable by this feature. Let’s understand step by step how to use Information Management Policies in SharePoint.

Configuring Information Management Policy

Here I have created a new list with name “Information management policy settings” to demonstrate the scenario,

Now follow the below steps to configure.

Step 1

Open the list, click on the setting icon from the top right and then click on List Settings



Step 2

This will open up List Setting page. Locate and click on “Information management policy settings” under Permission and Management heading.




Step 3

This will open up the configuration page for Information management policy setting. Here you can see the types of items available on which we can apply the retention policy. In my case it’s Item and Folder, but if you have added any content type to the list then that content type will be also listed on this place. Currently this is a new list so no retention policy is applied by default so there is no retention policy option. In our case we are applying this policy to the SharePoint list items, so click on Items.




Step 4

When you click on the Item, the following screen will be opened.




From this screen, just check the checkbox which says “Enable Retention”. When you enable the Retention checkbox you will now see the link which says “Add a retention stage” as shown in the below figure.




Step 5

Click on the link “Add a retention stage…” and you will now see a dialog box appears in your browser window. This dialog box will allow you to select the criteria on the item. The criteria would be the  action that should be taken on  the item based on how many days after the item has been created.




The formula will be like,

Created Date + Any Integer Number (Unit of criteria such as days, years, months)

So, if in the text box I am writing one and I am selecting months, then in that case my action will be applied on the item after one month of the item created. It’s similar to days and years.

Step 6

The next task is to set the action. The action will include things like move item to recycle bin, permanently delete etc. Full list of actions is shown in the below figure.




Here if you want to send an email to any user then in that case, you can first create a workflow on the item and then from the action you can select Start a workflow option, and that will trigger a workflow and an email will be sent. You can select any of the actions listed below. In my case I am selecting Move to Recycle Bin, because I want that my item should be moved to the recycle bin once the specific time period has elapsed.

Step 7

Click on OK. Once you click on OK then you will be redirected back to the original window and the dialog window will be closed and now you will see the rule that you have defined for the item.




Step 8

Click on OK. Once you will click OK your retention policy has been activated. And you will be redirected back to the Information Management Policy setting page. And now you will see that your item content type has an active retention policy associated with it.




So here we have seen how to enable and configure the Information Management Policy Settings in the lists. Now let’s look how to disable existing Information Management Policy that is no longer needed.

Disable Information Management Policy

In order to disable the existing Information Management Policy in the list, please follow below steps.

Step 1

Open the Information management policy setting page using Step 1 and Step 2 from the previous example, here you will see that item content type has retention policy activated.

Step 2

Click on Item link and it will display the following page.




Here you can see our previously activated retention policy is there. In order to disable this just unchecked the Enable Retention Checkbox. Once you unchecked the Enable Retention Checkbox, the retention policy will hide and you will see the defaults.




If you again check the Enable Retention checkbox then previously configured retention policy will appear again.




Important to note

  • You can define more than one retention policy over content type.
  • Retention Policy will not always work. Retention policy purely depends on information management policy setting service jobs available in SharePoint. If it is SharePoint on Premises then we can run the SharePoint Information Management Policy service manually, but if you are in SharePoint online, then in that case you have to wait for the next Information management policy service run. Normally for SharePoint Online, users have to wait for one week. So if you have selected Created Date + 1 day then that might not work because service can be run after two days, or one week. This is the major limitation of Retention Policy in SharePoint if you are in SharePoint Online.


So in this article, I have explained about the Retention Policy available in information management policy in list settings. Although I have explained in the context of SharePoint list, the procedure will be the same for SharePoint document library.

In the next article I am going to cover RSS settings available in list settings, we will see what RSS is, how we can use RSS in SharePoint and what are the benefits and limitations of RSS in SharePoint.

Any question or feedback or suggestion, please do comment and let me know.

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