Delete unstructured content via Policy

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featuredimageNeed help automating retention and deletion policies in Office 365? Although you can set retention policies at a content type, library or site level through other information management policy settings in SharePoint, this blog post will talk about how to set a deletion policy at a site collection level from the new Compliance Center. Microsoft recommends this approach for unstructured content living in both SharePoint and OneDrive for Business.

The Compliance Center is part of the larger Security and Compliance Center which is a one-stop shop for security and compliance throughout O365. The Compliance Policy Center site collection is automatically provisioned for every tenant with an O365 E5 license.  It can also be purchased as an add-on to any Enterprise license.

[UPDATE December 2016] A deletion policy is on the O365 Roadmap for O365 Groups and is currently under development. On First Release, I am currently able to add a deletion policy to a Group’s site collection. Unfortunately I cannot see any indication thru the UI on the site that the policy is applied whereas I can on a traditional SharePoint site. This may change.

With a document deletion policy, you can proactively reduce risk by deleting documents in a site after a specific period of time. You can enforce a single mandatory policy on all site collections created from the same site collection template, such as the OneDrive for Business template, or you can allow site owners to choose or opt out from several policies that you centrally create and manage.

Follow this link on how to … Give users access to the O365 Security & Compliance Center.

You can get to the Compliance Policy Center by one of two methods. The first is thru the Security and Compliance center by selecting Compliance from the O365 Admin Centers’ menu:



Once there, you can select ‘Add a retention policy‘ under Data governance.


And then select the option to manage deletion policies in SharePoint and ODFB:


Alternatively you can navigate directly to the Compliance Centre by this URL:

The 4 steps for adding a deletion policy are:

STEP 1: Add a policy

STEP 2: Add a rule to the policy

At the moment, the criteria available for a rule is limited however that may change over time.


STEP 3: Select a Site Collection template OR a specific Site Collection

In this example, I want to associate the deletion policy to all sites created with the Team Site template so that is the template I select.


STEP 4: Associate the deletion policy to the site collection template.


Once the policy is associated to the template, all team site content will be deleted 5 years after the last modified date.

NOTE: You can optionally mark the policy as mandatory.  This will prevent a site owner from opting out of the policy.

Boom you’re done!


Now, when you go to any team site and you browse to any policy setting, you will see indication of the mandatory deletion policy by a yellow warning bar at the top of the page.



Simple yet effective technique for keeping those content hoarders under control. 🙂

Thanks for reading.

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