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Exchange 2010 SP1 Retention Policies

Exchange 2010 RTM introduced Retention Policies as the successor to the Message Records Management (MRM) technology introduced in Exchange 2007.  MRM was the successor to Mailbox Manager Policies in Exchange 2003.  Message Records Management is called MRM 1.0 and Retention Policies is being called MRM 2.0 for short. MRM 1.0 as well as MRM 2.0 are both available in Exchange 2010 but MRM 1.0 is being deprecated in Exchange 2010 SP1.

I won’t go into MRM 1.0 a whole lot but will show you the capabilities of Retention Policies in Exchange 2010, how it ties in with Outlook 2010, and how you can create Retention Policies via the Exchange Management Console in Exchange 2010 SP1.

Important: Please keep in mind that the screenshots below are not final as this article is based off of SP1 Beta software and may change by the time Exchange 2010 SP1 ships.

Retention Policy functionality

Default Policy Tag

A Default Policy Tag is the default Tag that is chosen for a Exchange specific folder such as Inbox, Calendar, Deleted Items, etc.  It affects all subfolders and subitems within that folder.  It is essentially the default policy/tag assigned to a specific folder. An example of a Default Policy Tag is when you enable a Personal Archive Mailbox for a user they are assigned a Default Policy Tag which says that all mailbox data will be moved to the archive after 2 years and it applies to all folders within an Exchange Mailbox.  Alternatively, you can also specify a specific part of the mailbox to be used for the Default Policy Tag instead (such as your Inbox, or Calendar, etc.)

Policy Tags

Policy Tags are the options available for a user to select on a Personal folder which are essentially any user created items which include a subfolder off of the Inbox, items created on your calendar, a user created task, and so on. This Policy Tag which is assigned to a Personal Folder is there to allow a user to override the Default Policy Tag.  It is essentially a way for a user to override the Default Policy (Default Policy Tag) set on a folder or a specific item or subfolder under the main folder that the Default Policy Tag is assigned to. So let’s say we enabled a Personal Archive Mailbox for a user and they have a Default Policy Tag for All Folders in a Mailbox for 2 years to be  pushed down to their Personal Archive Mailbox.  This Default Archive Policy also has a few Policy Tags that allow a user to select a folder or a specific item and choose the following options:

  • 1 year
  • 5 years
  • Never

By selecting 1 year, we are using the Retention Policy Tag that allows the user to select 1 year.  If we select User Folder Policy, we are essentially reverting back to the default setting which let’s the Default Policy Tag (2 years) to govern when that specific item gets moved to the archive.  So think of the Default Policy Tag as the default permission whereas a Policy Tag is a way for a user to override the Default Permission (the Default Policy Tag).

Retention Policy

A Retention Policy contains a Default Policy Tag and Policy Tags.  You assign this Retention Policy to a user.

A Walkthrough of Creating a Retention Policy in the Exchange Management Console

Microsoft is moving away from MRM 1.0.  In fact, in the Exchange 2010 SP1 Exchange Management Console, Managed Folders and Custom Managed Folders which were MRM 1.0 functionality has been removed.  The Exchange Management Shell still has MRM 1.0 functionality.  As you can see by the following image, there’s no Managed Folders or Custom Managed Folder tabs.  But, there is a Retention Policy Tags and a Retention Policies Tab.

The Scenario

Let’s say we have a MRM 1.0 policy that does the following: When an item is moved to Deleted Items, after 14 days it will be deleted with the ability to recover that deleted item.  In MRM 1.0 we couldn’t create any user configurable options.  But with Exchange 2010, we can use Policy Tags to allow our users to override the default we give them. We want to create a similar policy in Exchange 2010 SP1 (RTM did have Retention Policies but not the ability to create them in the Exchange Management Console).  We also want to take advantage of the Default Policy Tag to take care of the 14 day deletion but also provide additional Policy Tags to allow users to be able to choose a different time limit such as 7 days and 21 days.  Let’s go ahead and create a Default Policy Tag to Delete Items after 14 days.

So to recap the goals of our Retention Policy:

  • Default Policy Tag to delete all items in the Deleted Items folder after 14 days
  • Policy Tag to allow users to override the Default Policy Tag and be able to select 7 days for individual folders and/or items
  • Policy Tag to allow users to override the Default Policy Tag and be able to select 21 days for individual folders and/or items

So let’s create our first Retention Policy Tag which will become our Default Policy Tag because we are assigning it to a folder that Exchange creates, the Deleted Items folder.

We then want to allow the user the ability to select 7 days and 21 days. We will assign the Tag Type to Personal Folders which essentially makes it into a Policy Tag rather than a Default Policy Tag and will allow the users in Outlook 2010 to select 7 days or 21 days to override the Folder Policy (Default Policy Tag).

Let’s go ahead and create our 7 day Retention Tag.

Let’s go ahead and create our 21 day Retention Tag.

We can now see the Retention Tags and the Default Policy Tag.

So let’s go over to the Retention Policies Tab and create a new Retention Policy that includes all three of our Retention Policy Tags.

During the Policy creation we can specify mailboxes to associate the policy to; which I did.  After assigning the policy and running the Managed Folder Assistant (Start-ManagedFolderAssistant) to expedite the process of assigning the policy to the mailbox, I launched Outlook 2010 with this user’s account profile.

If we take a look at the Inbox Policy, it just says to use the Parent Policy.

But if we look at the Deleted Items Folder in which we created the Default Policy Tag for, we can see our Default Policy Tag at work.


65 Responses to “Exchange 2010 SP1 Retention Policies”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Elan Shudnow. Elan Shudnow said: #Exchange 2010 SP1 Retention Policies […]

  2. […] Exchange 2010 SP1 Retention Policies | Elan Shudnow’s Blog Posted on April 9, 2010 by johnacook […]

  3. on 10 Apr 2010 at 10:11 pmHasnain Shaikh

    Very nice article.
    Do we still require minimum 500 items for auto Retention tag?

  4. on 11 Apr 2010 at 2:18 pmElan Shudnow

    Hm, didn't even know about this 500 item limitation? Do you have a link that talks about it?

  5. on 23 Apr 2010 at 5:28 pmDale Meredith

    It's talked about in the Microsoft Official Coureware (MOC)…I'm a MCT and I'm teaching 2010 this week

  6. […] […]

  7. on 20 Sep 2010 at 11:37 amElan Shudnow

    Oh yes, that. That's not a 500 limit. That just says that the Auto-Tagging features doesn't start learning until you have tagged 500 items manually. That way, Auto-Tagging will be more accurate once it starts functioning.

  8. on 01 Oct 2010 at 10:37 amMeImnot

    In Exchange 2010 RTM I did not find a way to change the -TriggerforRetention to 'WhenMoved' on Retention policy tags…it stays in a default state of 'WhenReceived' which is not what I want for the Deleted Items. I am upgrading to Exchange 2010 SP1 on the test env…hoping that this behaviour is changed.
    Also the comments are not showing like they used to when I was using anaged folders and Outlook 2007…I think this was a very good disclaimer and its a pity that it has been removed from Retention policy tags.

  9. on 01 Dec 2010 at 4:30 pmJeremy Wood

    If you dig in with ADSI Edit and find the Retention Tag you can change the msExchELCFlags property to '2' and the policy will show WhenMoved. You need to change the policy and the object under the policy. I haven't tested this yet to see if it works, so don't mess with this unless you have somewhere to test it. :)

  10. on 01 Dec 2010 at 4:43 pmJeremy Wood

    Sorry I fat fingered that. Youneed to change the value to '3'.

  11. on 04 Oct 2010 at 6:19 pmnetronin

    Anyone know if the -basefolderonly option still works on Exchange 2010/sp1 like it did in Exchange 2007? I don't want the policy to process sub-folders, only the root folder.

  12. on 08 Nov 2010 at 9:36 amStephen

    I would like to know this myself. Without this option to process only the root folder, we won't be able to to change to Retention Policies with SP1. We'll have to stick with Managed Folders using powershell. :(

  13. on 17 Nov 2010 at 3:07 pmMilo145

    I've set the -basefolderonly flag to $True in 2010 SP1 but it is still processing the subfolders??? I can't find any documentation for 2010 SP1 as how to do this :(

  14. on 30 Nov 2010 at 3:43 pmChris

    same exact problem, i need it to apply ONLY to inbox, not subfolders. Is it possible with 2010 sp1? It seems like Microsoft adds these new features but at the same time implements LESS functionality.

  15. on 30 Nov 2010 at 3:44 pmChris

    its hard to tell a customer that they can do something they have always done in exchange 2003, but their new shiny exchange 2010 environment.

  16. […] Exchange 2010 SP1 Retention Policies December 12, 2010 ranjnaaggarwal Leave a comment Go to comments Exchange 2010 SP1 Retention Policies […]

  17. on 16 Dec 2010 at 2:06 pmmdrooij

    Elan, you got fans:

  18. on 16 Dec 2010 at 3:47 pmElan Shudnow

    Apparently we both do. Thanks for the link.

  19. […] Exchange 2010 SP1 Retention Policies December 19, 2010 Ranjna Aggarwal Leave a comment Go to comments Exchange 2010 SP1 Retention Policies […]

  20. on 04 Feb 2011 at 8:52 amJohn Lee

    Is it possible to exclude such as deleted item, notes from archive ? I try to find but no luck…

  21. on 24 May 2011 at 6:28 amrobwetz

    Is this what you're looking for?

  22. on 08 Jun 2011 at 11:20 amPaul

    Very nice article.
    In your experience, have you come across a way to manage the default Calendar or Tasks folders? I know that one cannot manage the contents of those folders with Retention Tags/Policies (as stated on this Technet article:… but I need something to manage them in my company, in keeping with our data retention policy. Do you know if that can be done with the older "Managed Folders" functionality, or a 3rd-party program?

  23. on 15 Jun 2011 at 8:44 amTony

    Paul you will need to create a managed folder policy:

    New-ManagedFolder -Name ‘DefaultCalendar’ -DefaultFolderType Calendar -MustDisplayComment $false
    New-ManagedContentSettings -FolderName DefaultCalendar -MessageClass IPM.Appointment -Name DefaultCalendarContentSettings -RetentionEnabled $true -RetentionAction MoveToDeletedItems -AgeLimitForRetention “1″
    New-ManagedFolderMailboxPolicy -Name “DefaultCalendarPolicy” -ManagedFolderLinks DefaultCalendar
    Set-mailbox -identity johndoe -ManagedFolderMailboxPolicy “DefaultCalendarPolicy”
    Start-ManagedFolderAssistant -Identity Johndoe
    get-mailbox JohnDoe| fl name,ManagedFolderMailboxPolicy

  24. on 23 Jun 2011 at 3:33 amMike

    A cautionary note…

    As far as I'm aware ManagedFolderMailboxPolicy and RetentionPolicy are mutually exclusive, in that if you apply one, the other is removed.

    So if you need to apply retention policy to the calendar, you're stuck with Managed Folder Mailbox Policies for everything…. unless I'm missing a way to apply both..?

  25. on 22 Jul 2011 at 1:26 pmPaul

    Thank you, Tony; that works like a charm. I guess I'm going to be using the "Old" method of retention until MS updates Retention Tags/Policies to work with non-message folders.

    You are correct, Mike, it's one or the other. As a matter of fact, when I added my mailbox to the new MRM policy I created it removed me from the Retention Policy I was in. I figured I would have gotten a red-texted PS message saying "Remove this mailbox from the Retenton Policy first", or even a "If you add this mailbox to a MRM policy it will be removed from the Retention Policy. Would you like to continue?", but no, it just went ahead and took care of the dirty-work.

    Thanks again to both of you for your input!

  26. on 04 Aug 2011 at 2:37 amLee


    I am testing this on and it seems that a user (under the default policy) has the same modification/deletion privileges on an archived item as they do in their standard mailbox.

    Is there anyway of getting Inbox and Sent items to archive mail immediately on send and receive respectively, then have read only access to these in the archive boxes?

    Thank you.

  27. on 20 Sep 2011 at 12:37 amGenie Bra

    The retention tags have a lesser impact on the users work flow because users aren't required to file messages in folders based on the folders retention settings. They can apply any personal tag to custom folders, and also explicitly apply a different tag to individual messages. Thanks.

  28. on 21 Sep 2011 at 5:56 amarea formulas

    RTM introduced Retention Policies as the successor to the Message Records Management technology introduced in Exchange. MRM was the successor to Mailbox Manager Policies in Exchange. Message Records Management is called MRM 1.0 and Retention Policies is being called MRM 2.0 for short. MRM 1.0 as well as MRM 2.0 are both available in Exchange but MRM 1.0 is being deprecated in Exchange SP1. Thanks for sharing.

  29. on 21 Sep 2011 at 2:07 pmBob

    Safe to say that retention policies and archive policies are mutual exclusive – e.g. you either delete something that is 14 days old or you archive to the Online Archive mailbox. Yes?

  30. on 21 Sep 2011 at 3:17 pmElan Shudnow

    Well Archive Policies really is a Retention Policy. But if you don't want to use the "Default" Archive Policy since you have other Retention Policy requirements, then you must add the Archive Policy requirements to a Retention Policy that has other Retention Policy settings.

  31. on 22 Sep 2011 at 7:54 amBob

    TY, I guess my point is the context menu on mailbox folders. It lists both Retention Policies and Archive Policies as separate selection items giving the impression they can both be in affect when in fact the "shorter" period will be the action taken. Unless i'm missing something.

  32. on 25 Sep 2011 at 2:02 pmElan Shudnow

    All the Archive Policy is, is a predefined Retention Policy so it makes it easier for Administrators to apply a Retention Policy based on archiving when you enable users for Archiving.

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  43. on 10 Oct 2011 at 7:44 amAlan

    I've followed this article and applied a simple- 'empty deleted items after 60 days policy' to my account. Nothing has happened since I applied it 5 days ago -all deleted items going back 6 months are still there. Do I have to do anything to trigger the process? I saw something about start-managedfolderassistant, but when I type this it just says "Managedfolderassistant is not recognised as an internal or external command". I'm using Exchange 2010 and Outlook 2007 client

  44. on 17 Oct 2011 at 8:21 amElan Shudnow

    Keep in mind that it won't apply to existing items only to items that have triggered the action post creation. For example, you now have the Retention Policy and after you create it, any new items moved to the Deleted Items Folder now are governed by the Policy since you triggered the action of moving it to the Deleted Items.

  45. on 11 Sep 2012 at 9:36 amJohn Brines

    Is there anything we can do about deleted items deleted prior to the policy being made active?

  46. on 11 Sep 2012 at 10:30 amElan Shudnow

    John, are you asking for another mechanism to delete Deleted Items other than the Retention Policies? If so, you'll want to use the Retention Policies to handle this as that's what they're there for. But I would check out this link ( as Deleted Items in Retention Policies work a bit differently.

    Basically, Deleted Items in Retention Policy only start being tagged after the Retention Policy is applied. So if the Deleted Items Retention is 1 year and you assign the policy today, anything 1.5 years old won't get deleted. The counter on new Deleted Items start at the time of applying the policy. For other folders, if you have a 1 year retention, as soon as you apply the Retention Policy, items older than 1 year (1.5 years for example) will be affected immediately by the Retention Policy.

  47. on 27 Oct 2011 at 7:53 amPete

    Elan I have a question.

    I'm a bit confused when it comes to having 1 policy that moves items from the inbox to the archive and then another that deletes items from the archive after a period of time.. say 5 years. Is this possible?

    I'm looking to have all items that are 180 days old moved from the mailbox(all folders) to the archive. items can sit in the archive for no more than 5 years then need to be deleted. I will enable single item recovery and retain the deleted items for 5 years to cover that aspect. What i'm not sure on is the moving to archive after XXX days and then deleting all items after X years.

    Help would be appreciated.

  48. on 02 Nov 2011 at 7:53 pmElan Shudnow

    Can't do this automatically as you cannot sign a Policy Tag to the Archive. You would have to control this using Quotas for the Archive so users will delete from the Archive.

  49. on 03 Nov 2011 at 7:23 amPete

    Ok. What if the users do no delete the mail from their archive? Could it stay around forever? Is there any way I can purge mail from an archive to prevent discovery on an item older than a set date?

  50. on 03 Nov 2011 at 7:44 amElan Shudnow

    So actually I believe the DPT (Retention Tag of All other Folders in the Mailbox) will include the Archive Mailbox. So you can potentially use that.

  51. on 03 Nov 2011 at 9:03 amPete

    ok that is what my testing has looked like.

    I've set 2 dpts. 1 to move to archive and 1 to delete all after a time period. this appears to work as long as I ensure the recovery folder is also set to 7 years and single item recovery is on.


  52. on 08 Nov 2011 at 11:57 amGary


    Could someone please elaborate on this:
    New-ManagedFolder -Name ‘DefaultCalendar’ -DefaultFolderType Calendar -MustDisplayComment $false
    New-ManagedContentSettings -FolderName DefaultCalendar -MessageClass IPM.Appointment -Name DefaultCalendarContentSettings -RetentionEnabled $true -RetentionAction MoveToDeletedItems -AgeLimitForRetention “1″
    New-ManagedFolderMailboxPolicy -Name “DefaultCalendarPolicy” -ManagedFolderLinks DefaultCalendar
    Set-mailbox -identity johndoe -ManagedFolderMailboxPolicy “DefaultCalendarPolicy”
    Start-ManagedFolderAssistant -Identity Johndoe
    get-mailbox JohnDoe| fl name,ManagedFolderMailboxPolicy

    We recently implemented Exchange 2010 at our facility (hospital) and we have some users looking to have their calendar items retained for 12 months (why they want this…who knows???). This is the only blog that has some sort of solution to this issue, but I'm pretty green as an Exchange admin and am looking for some clarification on the above fix. Where is the "managed folder" for the calendar created? Is the value for "age limit for retention" = to days (is the "1" in the example above = 1 day?).

    Any help would be greatly apprecaited!

  53. on 18 Nov 2011 at 1:56 pmjohn

    Hello. I enabled the retention policy by making my own – 60 days.

    But i had no idea it did all these things.

    Now all mail items in users mailboxes older than 60 days are gone.

    We’re still in the default retention period of 14/30.
    Also have backups.
    But restoring all this via backup is quite difficult.

    Is there a way to undo or return all retention items back to the source mailboxes?
    I dont even know where the items are right now.

    Currently the policy i made, (60 days) is deleted and retention is at the default.

    I tested a Discovery and found it severly lacking in the ability to find and restore all items and cannot use folder names-cant search folders?
    This makes any recovery hard.

    I have searched for articles and cannot find any discussing undoing a retention run.

    I cant believe that it seems like this cannot be done…


  54. on 23 Nov 2011 at 10:59 amElan Shudnow

    It depends on the Action Taken. For example, Delete Permanently or Delete and Allow Recovery. If the latter, then a user would go into their Recover Deleted Items.

  55. on 15 Dec 2011 at 10:23 amMike A.

    Is there a way to set retention policies for internal emails (i.e. an email sent from one employee in the company to another one)? We have a need to start up with something that removes all internal email from a user's mailbox on a rolling 90-day backlog, and permanently deletes the email after 120 days. Is this something even possible within Exchange 2010?

    Currently on Exchange 2010 SP1, if you need any further details I can provide them.

  56. on 15 Dec 2011 at 10:50 amElan Shudnow

    Unfortunately, there's no distinction between internal and external e-mails when it comes to Retention Policies. You can take a look at the Set-RetentionPolicyTag ( to see there's also no hidden Powershell Switch to configure it for internal only.

  57. on 24 Dec 2011 at 3:14 amShaks

    I would be good,if we discuses power shell command for the retention-policies.

  58. on 03 Jul 2012 at 8:09 pmAaron Brown

    Hello Elan,

    We have an offsite exchange server that runs 2010 that we rent and by default there are no retention policies, only archive. When does archive policy actually work. I've had my inbox set to a 1 year and I've had mail n there since 10/1/2010 however, they don't move. I am assuming they want us to purchase the archive feature in order to have it automatically move.

    The main reason I am writing is I want is the ability to automatically delete mail older than 3 years and have it continuously and automatically delete mail older than 3 years, but I'm thinking that will be an additional charge for them to do this since the only option is default folder policy.

  59. on 08 Jul 2012 at 1:43 pmElan Shudnow

    Aaron, you can create a Retention Policy and have it use non-archive features (don't select Move to Archive) and instead use options such as Permanently Delete, Delete and allow Recovery, etc… This doesn't require you to pay the additional licensing costs of using an archive. When you apply a Retention Policy, it will act on items that are currently in your mailbox.

    The same does not work for Deleted Items. Instead, if you apply Retention Policies to affect Deleted Items, these Deleted Items become new stamped items at the time of applying a Retention Policy on a Mailbox. For example, if an item in the Deleted Items is 1 year old and you now apply a Retention Policy to apply to a person's entire mailbox, items in the mailbox that are 1 year or older should automatically get deleted but items in the Deleted Items will be considered new to the Retention System and will get deleted 1 year after applying the Retention Policy.

    And don't forget to apply the Retention Policies to mailboxes. Then every so often, the managed folder assistant will run, scan the mailboxes, and remove data when it sees fit. If using Exchange 2010 SP1 or later, you can forcefully run the Managed Folder Assistant using the following command:
    Start-ManagedFolderAssistant -Identity

    If using Exchange 2010 RTM, you can run it by using the following command:

  60. on 22 Aug 2012 at 2:43 pmAndrew

    Hello Elan.
    Great article. Thanks.
    All the examples I can find refer to moving content from the Mailbox *to* the Archive.
    Can Retention Policies also be used to *delete* message from the Archive?
    I would like to do:
    – Everything older than 90 days gets moved from Mailbox to Archive
    – Everything older than 1 yr gets deleted from Archive
    (possibly with 1 folder with 'indefinite' retention tag)


  61. on 24 Aug 2012 at 8:30 amElan Shudnow

    Yes, this is possible. See the following thread:

  62. on 24 Aug 2012 at 9:24 amGreg T

    @Andrew @Elan thanks for the info! I had the same question as Andrew and haven't had much luck finding any solid answers anywhere

  63. on 13 Sep 2012 at 9:18 amChristopher Crawford

    I have applied a 45 day retention tag to the sent items folder. I also have a personal tag to archive after 30 days. The sent items get archived to the online archive, but retain the default tag, even on the archived sent items folder. I can choose to have the Archive sent items use parent folder, but that gets reset when the assistant runs, and mail is still removed after 45 days from the archive. Why can I not retain the sent items in the archive?

  64. on 21 Nov 2012 at 8:11 amblaugrana

    I'm deploying archiving in my exchange 2010 sp2 rollup 4 v2 environment, and would like to know if there is any option to apply retention policy on an archive mailbox?
    I mean that my scenario will be as following:
    1. all items that older than 1 year will be moved to archive and
    2. all items that in my archive mailbox that older than 7 years will be deleted with recovery/without recovery


  65. on 06 Oct 2014 at 5:02 amSourabh

    Hi, Screenshot below Policy Tags is missing, could you please fix it.

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