Document Retention Policies



What are Document Retention Policies?

Repository Administrators can define document retention and archiving policies. A retention policy allows repository administrators to permanently delete (purge) older documents or documents that meet a certain criteria. For example, a policy could be created to mark documents of a particular matter type for deletion when a specified number of days or years has passed after the matter closed date. 

Retention Policies will support policies based on matter type, matter closing date, and other criteria. Administrators will have a chance to confirm a mass deletion before purging documents when retention policies indicate they should be purged.

NOTE: For more information about purging and deleting documents, see our article on Deleting and Purging Documents

Creating and Activating Retention Policies

When the document retention policies feature is enabled, a link will be available on the Repository Administration page:

The “Document Retention Policies” page will appear as follows:

Click “Add a new policy” to define a new policy:

The policy's fields are described below.

After defining a retention policy, click OK. The dialog will close and the underlying page will update to show the new retention policy. 


The policy name field will allow only letters, digits, spaces, dashes, and forward slashes. The maximum name length is 25 characters.  


Administrators can add a description to retention policies in the description field on the Retention Policy dialog. Policy descriptions are limited to 120 characters.

“Policy is active” defaults to unchecked. 

Document Criteria:

The document criteria dropdown contains the names of all the repository’s custom attributes except for Notes type field. There will be an additional entry for each attribute with “ Type” appended to the attribute name. 

If there are no non-Notes type custom attributes in the repository, a message will display saying “Profile attributes must be defined before retention policies can be added.”

Retention Period:

The first field on the Retention Period line will accept numeric entries between 1 and 9999.  The first Retention period dropdown’s values are “years” and “days”; the default is years. The second retention period dropdown’s values are “last modified date” and “xxx closing date”, where xxx is the attribute selected for Document Criteria.

Using Parent-Child Attributes

If a linked parent attribute is selected in the Document criteria dropdown of the Retention Policy Definition dialog, an additional set of fields for the child attribute will be displayed:

The child attribute drop-down lists the child attributes of the selected parent attribute plus a blank entry. The 2nd Retention period drop-down will include a closing date entry for the child attribute if one is selected, and a closing date entry for the parent attribute if no child attribute is selected.

Using Lookup Buttons

On the retention policy definition page you will be provided with a lookup buttton.  The retention period is keyed off the workspace attribute’s closing date even when the workspace attribute is not used in the selection criteria.

The lookup button on this dialog acts like it does on the Advanced Search page. If multiple values are selected, then each value is automatically surrounded by parentheses and an OR operator is automatically inserted between values.

If workspaces have been enabled for any cabinets in the repository the trigger date listbox will include an entry for the workspace attribute closing date, i.e. “Matter closing date.” If the document criteria attribute is the same as a workspace attribute, the attribute will not be listed twice in the listbox.

Activating Policies

When “Activate selected policies” is clicked, all the marked policies will be set to active.

When “Deactivate selected policies” is clicked, all the marked policies will be set to inactive.

When “Delete selected policies” is clicked, a confirmation message box will display asking if the user is sure he/she wants to delete the selected policies. If he/she confirms the deletion, the selected policies will be deleted.

When you click OK on the Document Retention Policies page, all the changes will be saved.  Clicking Cancel will discard the changes.  You will be returned to the Repository Administration page.

Document Retention Manager

At least once every 60 days the Document Retention Manager will check all documents in repositories where document retention is enabled and where one or more retention policies have been defined and activated. It will build a list of all documents in these repositories that are eligible for purging according to the repository’s retention policies. Each entry in the list will include the document name, cabinet, and the names of all the applicable retention policies (if multiple policies apply). This list will be emailed in XML format to all repository administrators if there is at least one document in the list. The subject of the email will be “Documents Eligible for Deletion” and the message body will be:

“The NetDocuments Document Retention Manager has selected 3408 documents that are eligible for deletion according to the active retention policies in the [repository name] repository.  Visit and click the Delete button within the next 90 days to initiate the deletion process.”

The XML file attached to the email will contain a list of all documents that match the active policies. This file will include the following information: repository name, repository ID, UTC date/time, the number of items reported for each policy, policy name, Doc ID, document name, doc env (URL), cabinet name, and cabinet ID. A sample file in .xlsx format is included below. 

When the link in the email is clicked, the following page will display:

If any of the policies that were in effect at the time the Document Retention Manager created the list, no longer exist, or have been deactivated, they won’t be displayed here. 

If it has been more than 90 days since the email was sent, this page may display a message saying that the list couldn’t be found and that the user should make sure his email didn’t break the link and that it hasn’t been more than 90 days since the message was sent.

If the user clicks the Permanently delete matching documents button on the Document Retention List page, a confirmation entry field and message will display requiring the user to type in the word “Delete” and click OK. 

If the user does so, a background job will be submitted to purge the documents in the list.  A message will display on the screen saying that the purge job has been queued and noting the email address that the report will be sent to when the purge has completed.

The background purge process will purge each document in the document retention list unless the document no longer matches an existing, active policy.  Each purge is logged in the consolidated activity log if this feature has been activated for the repository.  It will then delete the retention list.  When the deletion job has completed, an email will be sent to the user who submitted the deletion job titled “Document Deletion Report.”  The body of this message will look like this:

The NetDocuments Retention Manager has completed the batch deletion initiated at [date & time].  3387 documents were deleted.  21 documents were not deleted because the documents had already been deleted or because they no longer matched an active deletion policy.

Retention Policy History

An unalterable record is available of all changes made to purging rules.

Each activation and deactivation of a document retention policy is recorded.  Edits and deletions of active retention policies (but not of inactive deletion policies) are recorded.  Each of these records will include the current date/time, the user who performed the action, the name of the policy, and the policy’s criteria and retention period.  If the policy name is changed both the old name and the new name are included in the log entry.

A link to view the Retention Policy Log is found at the bottom of the Retention Policies page:

A Retention policy history will look like this: (with records sorted chronologically)

NOTE: A repository’s retention policy log is deleted automatically when the repository is deleted.

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