I received this question from an attendee during a recent presentation I was giving on Microsoft 365 Information Governance so I thought I’d share the answer in a post in case there are others wondering the same…
Question: “When reviewing dispositions for your organization’s records and the deletion is approved, does it go into the SharePoint site’s recycle bin?”
Great question! This post walks thru the lifecycle of a document once a disposition reviewer approves its deletion.
First things first… here’s Microsoft’s official answer for How long until disposed content is permanently deleted? The key point from their article as it relates to this question is “the content in the SharePoint site or OneDrive account becomes eligible for the standard cleanup process”. In case you’re wondering what that means… this post is for you! 🙂
What is the Standard Cleanup Process?
From reference link (Restore deleted items from the site collection recycle bin), the Standard cleanup process within SharePoint/OneDrive means items are retained for 93 days from the time you delete them from their original location. They stay in the site Recycle Bin the entire time, unless someone deletes them from there or empties that Recycle Bin. In that case, the items go to the second stage Recycle Bin, where they stay for the remainder of the 93 days unless:
- the site collection Recycle Bin exceeds its quota and starts purging the oldest items
- the items are manually deleted by the site collection administrator from the site collection Recycle Bin
SharePoint Online retains backups of all content for 14 additional days beyond actual deletion. If content can not be restored via the Recycle Bin or Files Restore, an administrator can contact Microsoft Support to request a restore any time inside the 14 day window .
You therefore have up to 93+14 days to retrieve the document once a disposition has been approved (with the noted exceptions above) from the recycle bin if required.
To demonstrate, I’ll walk-thru the disposition process on a single item in my own tenant. I have a document set with several documents in it, each labeled with the retention label, Test Review Label. This label is configured to require a disposition review at the end of the retention period. I’ll work with the document named Sample policy 4.docx.
Before starting, both the first and second stage recycle bins in this SharePoint site are empty. If I view the Compliance details for Sample policy 4.docx from SharePoint (3 dots… More… Compliance details), it shows the expiry date indicating this item is expired (date is in the past) and has now been waiting for a disposition review for about 6 weeks:
Since I’m one of the disposition reviewers, I’m regularly receiving an email reminder of the pending disposition of all items labeled with Test Review Label:
I can either click Go there now from the email OR navigate to the Compliance Centre, select the Records management menu option and the Disposition tab. For this example, I’m performing a disposition review on items labeled with the Test Review Label so I’ll select that one:
There are 12 items (documents and items) pending disposition. I’ll select the first item in the list, Sample policy 4.docx, view its details, and select Approve disposal.
I’ll provide a reason for disposition.
Tip: To apply some rigor and control, include specialized training for disposition reviewers in your organization on a standard vocabulary to use for their disposal reasons. E.g. Organizations may want additional information provided on dispositions such as destruction certificate reference #, authority, etc.
The reasons can be entered either for an individual item or in bulk. They appear under a Comments column in the Disposed items tab although are not in the exported csv (as of Dec. 2020).
Once saved, it’s immediately removed from the Pending Dispositions tab, however it doesn’t appear in the Disposed items tab immediately nor is it deleted from the source SharePoint library immediately. How long does that take?
Disposed items tab
It was visible on the Disposed items tab ~an hour after the disposition review was complete.
The document was still visible and wasn’t deleted from the document set until the weekly process ran (which on my tenant was about 5 days later). Since I am a disposition reviewer for this label, I also received an automated email from the Disposition Review process indicating this:
If I select the Go there now link above, it takes me to the Disposed items tab within the Records Management feature in the Compliance Center.
SharePoint Recycle Bin
When the document is deleted from SharePoint, it moves to the second stage recycle bin. At this point, it will follow the standard cleanup process. As stated earlier in this post, this means it will stay here for 93 days before being permanently deleted. You will have an additional 14 days beyond the 93 to request a restore from Microsoft if necessary.
As of December 2020, an eDiscovery search will currently NOT look into the recycle bin and see this document, however Microsoft has announced they are working on allowing this capability on the Microsoft 365 Roadmap with a targeted release of February CY2021.
BONUS: Add this to your Governance site!
I’m a proponent of building a SharePoint site in your environment dedicated to governance. Governance can span many areas, however as it relates to Data Governance and Security Governance, it consistently has four key messages end-users should understand (applies whether you are talking about security controls, retention controls, or protection controls):
The content on the site should be customized to the organization’s needs and should evolve over time. This is not a once-and-done activity.
An example of content to include on the site is for disposition reviewers. Why not dedicate a page to this important role in your organization to ensure they understand the expected behavior when disposing content housed in Microsoft 365? Explain why the file they just disposed of will not appear in the Disposed items tab immediately and why it will continue to appear in the SharePoint site for a period of time before appearing in the recycle bin.
Thanks for reading.