Email Retention Guidelines

ODU's electronic mail (email) policy is to retain messages only as long as necessary for business purposes. Emails in the following folders are automatically deleted after a specific period of time unless they are tagged with an individual retention policy or moved to a folder with a different retention policy.

Inbox Retained for 1 year from the date of the message
Sent Mail Retained for 2 years from the date of the message
Junk Email Retained for 30 days and then moved to the Deleted Items folder
Deleted Items Retained for 60 days and available for users to recover from the server for 30 days

Your emails can be retained by tagging them with appropriate retention tags in Outlook, or by filing them in folders with appropriate retention tags. These are the retention policies that can be assigned to an individual message or to a folder:

1. General 2 Years Retained for 2 years from the date of the message
2. University Business 3 Years Retained for 3 years from the date of the message
3. University Business 5 Years Retained for 5 years from the date of the message
4. University Business 10 Years Retained for 10 years from the date of the message
5. University Business Permanent Retained permanently

Deciding what to retain

Evaluate your email(s) and determine whether they meet the legal definition of a university record. If so, retain it in accordance with the type of record (the content of the email) as listed in the Library of Virginia Records Retention and Disposition Schedules.


  • Issues policy
  • States decisions
  • Outlines procedures
  • Shows action
  • Gives guidance
  • You're not sure


  • Junk mail
  • Confirms appointments
  • Personal messages
  • Reference copies
  • Broadcast messages
  • Transmits documents/out comment

Important email tips

  • Verify addresses that you are sending emails to
  • Your email contains public records. See Virginia Public Records Act.
  • Your messages may be subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
  • Utilize the records retention and disposition schedules online to determine how long to keep the records.
  • DO NOT use email to transmit confidential information.
  • Your email is part of your job; no expectation of privacy or confidentiality applies.

For more information about this policy please refer to the Email Archive and Retention Standard.