Event-Based Retention in Office 365

How Event-Based Retention Works in Office 365

Microsoft recently announced the General Availability of Event-Based retention in Office 365 Advanced Data Governance. In this article we will explain event-based retention in Office 365 and what it means to your Office 365 implementation.

What is Event-Based Records Management?

Event-based records management requires that an event occur before the retention period begins. For example, an organization might be required to keep employee performance reviews for three years after the employee’s last day of employment. In this case, the employee’s last day would start the retention period. The problem is that it can be difficult for organizations to automatically “flip the switch” to start the retention period.

How Event-Based Retention Works in Office 365

In Office 365 there are three groups of actions you need to perform to configure event-based retention.

  1. Create the Office 365 label and associate it with a certain type of event, such as employee termination.
  2. Publish the label so it can be manually or automatically applied to Office 365 content. Once the label has been applied to a document a field for an Event ID property will appear, which will need to be populated with an ID, such as an employee number.
  3. Once the event has occurred, it will need to be manually created in Office 365 and the associated content will need to be identified before the retention period can start.

Let’s look at these steps in more detail.

event-based retention in Office 365


Step 1: Create Label and Choose Event Type

First, you will create a label as usual in Office 365. The following is required:

  • Turn on Retention
  • Set the retention period
  • Decide whether to delete the content automatically or trigger a disposition review. You cannot choose to do nothing.
  • For retain or delete the content based on, choose Event.

event-based retention

Photo Credit: Microsoft


When you select “an event”, another window appears asking you to choose the event type. Microsoft has defined 16 common event types from which you can choose, or you can create your own custom event type.

event-based records management

Photo Credit: Microsoft

Step 2: Publish Label and Add Event ID to Content

After the label is created, the next step is to publish it. During the publishing process you need to decide a few things:

  • Where the label should appear, e.g., Exchange, SharePoint, OneDrive, or Office 365 Groups.
  • Whether it should be manually or automatically applied.

event-based records management

Photo Credit: Microsoft


Once the new event-based label has been published, it will need to be applied to the appropriate documents. Once the event-based label has been applied to a document a new field called “Asset ID” will appear in the document properties / metadata.

The Asset ID allows you to group like documents together. For example, the Asset ID could be an employee ID that identifies the employee to which the performance review applies. All the performance reviews for that employee would have the same asset ID.

event-based retention Office 365

Photo Credit: Microsoft

Step 3: Create and Trigger the Event

Each time an employee leaves (or another event occurs) you will need to manually create an event, or automate this process using PowerShell, which we go over below. When you create the event, you need to select the same event type from step #1. Otherwise, it will not work.

event-based records management

Photo Credit: Microsoft


Next, you will need to define the scope of the event. The scope of the content is narrowed down by specifying Asset IDs for SharePoint and OneDrive content, or keywords for Exchange content. It is very important to specify an asset ID, otherwise, all the content with labels of that event type will have the retention period applied. For Exchange, refine your keyword query by using search operators like AND, OR, and NOT.

Finally, add the date the event occurred. The date must be in the past; you are not able to queue up events that will happen in the future.

event-based records management

Photo Credit: Microsoft

Using PowerShell to Automate Events for Retention

Let’s say that you want to trigger an event based on information from a business application. For example, if an employment end date is added to your HR system, it could start a PowerShell script to create and trigger a new event.

Microsoft has stated that they are working on more APIs to execute on the scenario above but have not committed to a release date as of the writing of this article. However, they have released six event-based retention cmdlets in the meantime.

Learn More About Event-Based Retention

RecordPoint Records365 complements Office 365 compliance features, including event-based retention. To find out more about how you can use Records365 and Office 365 together to create a fully compliant records management solution, please see our article How RecordPoint Enhances Event-Based Retention in Office 365.

Microsoft has published additional materials on event-based retention in Office 365:


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