Document Retention Policies


What are Retention Policies?

You can define document retention and archiving policies. A retention policy allows repository administrators to permanently delete older documents or documents that meet 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 closing date. 

Retention Policies will support policies based on matter type, matter closing date, and other criteria. You will have a chance to confirm a mass deletion when retention policies indicate that the documents should be deleted. For more information about deleting documents, see Deleting and Purging Documents

Creating and Activating Retention Policies

If you have the retention policies feature enabled, go to the Repository Administration > Retention Policies.


The Retention Policies page appears as follows:


Select Create to define a new policy:


  • Policy name

Enter the policy name. It allows only letters, digits, spaces, dashes, and forward slashes. The maximum name length is 25 characters.  

  • Description (optional)

You can add a description to retention policies. Policy descriptions are limited to 120 characters.

  • Document criteria

The document criteria drop-down list contains the names of all the repository’s custom attributes except for the Notes type field. There is an additional entry for each attribute with Type appended to the attribute name. 

  • Retention period

In the first box, enter the numeric entry between 1 and 9999. In the drop-down list, choose years (default) or days. Then, in the second drop-down list, choose last modified date or xxx closing date, where xxx is the attribute selected for Document Criteria.

  • Policy is active

Disabled by default.

After defining a retention policy, select Create & Process or Create. The created retention policy appears in a list.

Using Parent-Child Attributes

If a linked parent attribute is selected in the Document criteria drop-down list of the Retention Policy Definition dialog box, an additional set of boxes for the child attribute will appear:


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 dialog box, you are provided with a lookup button. 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 as 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 list will include an entry for the workspace attribute closing date, for example, Matter closing date. If the document criteria attribute is the same as a workspace attribute, the attribute will not be listed twice in the list.

Editing and Deleting Policies

Select any policy to edit or delete it by selecting corresponding buttons.

After you make needed edits, select Update & Process or Update.

When you delete a policy, a confirmation message appears. Confirm the deletion to proceed.

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 you click the link in the email, the following page appears:

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 message will appear requiring you to confirm the deletion by entering the DELETE and selecting OK

Then, a background job will be submitted to delete the documents on the list. A message will appear 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 is completed, an email will be sent to the administrator who submitted the deletion job titled Document Deletion Report. The body of this message will be as follows:

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 retention rules.

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 administrator who performed the action, the name of the policy, the policy’s criteria, and the retention period. If the policy name is changed both the old name and the new name are included in the log.

To view the Retention Policy Log, select View History:


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.