U of T 30-day Microsoft Teams Chat Retention Policy coming September 16

As an important element in records management and data security, the University of Toronto will be implementing a 30-day retention policy for all individual Teams chat messages that occur outside of a designated Microsoft Teams Channel. This policy will take effect September 16, 2024. The policy is designed to streamline data storage, enhance security and promote efficient communication practices within the university. 

What messages are impacted? 
Individual Teams chat messages are ephemeral, one-on-one communications, similar to a phone call or in-person conversation with a colleague, that are intended to disappear after the communication. Messages within group chats (including meetings) are also considered one-on-one communications and will follow the 30-day retention policy. 

What messages are not impacted? 
Chat messages within a designated Teams channel that are directly related to a project, group or committee are intended to serve as a record for the entire team and will not be impacted by this policy. 

Preparing for Teams Chat Retention

 

We are giving all faculty, staff, librarians and students advance notice along with the opportunity to review your chat history in case you have any important links or files that need to be retrieved and kept. We suggest revisiting conversations older than 30 days before the scheduled implementation date (September 16, 2024) to ensure you have access to the necessary links and/or files.

Moving forward, if users feel there are chats that are pertinent to projects or other teams, it is recommended to initiate these conversations and share these links within a specific Microsoft Teams channel or Microsoft OneDrive. At the 30-day mark, links to files shared in one-on-one or group chats will be removed from the conversation but will remain accessible in the original sender’s Microsoft OneDrive. 

Staff, faculty and librarians may also want to consider reverting to email for pertinent conversations and information rather than Microsoft Teams chat.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

TeamsChatRetention

Microsoft Teams has become highly popular over the past several years and has changed the way we work. While it seems communication has become seamless, there are several factors that make keeping chat histories indefinitely problematic, including: 

Operational efficiency 

A retention policy will create standards for the university regarding communications and will facilitate more streamlined processes. If a retention policy is in place, users will understand that communications related to specific subject matters (e.g., project-related) should be stored in an appropriate platform where relevant information can be easily accessed. This approach avoids the need to sift through extensive chat history containing unrelated content and potentially outdated information. 

Security and risk mitigation 

A retention policy on Teams chat history will reduce the exposure of potentially sensitive information and unauthorized access. These risks could potentially lead to legal liabilities. 

Compliance and legal considerations 

Retaining individual chat history indefinitely creates legal risks and can potentially leave the university open to a variety of legal challenges. 

Please note that Teams Chat deleted by a retention policy is gone permanently and cannot be recovered. Everyone across the tenant will be subject to the retention policy.

This policy impacts any conversation outside of a channel or team created by any user including faculty, staff, librarians and students. 

Please note that Teams Chat deleted by a retention policy is gone permanently and cannot be recovered. Everyone across the tenant will be subject to the retention policy.

There are three scenarios you may encounter when the policy is implemented. 

1. Chat messages that are 30 days or older: 

These messages will be immediately deleted following Microsoft’s scheduled deletion job schedule. 

2. Chat messages that are less than 30 days old: 

Any chat message less than 30 days old and X days old will remain visible for 30 – X days until it is deleted. For example, if a message is five days old when the policy is implemented, the message will remain visible for another 25 days. 

3. Net new messages created after the policy is implemented on September 16: 

Any message created after the policy is implemented will have 30 days until it is deleted. 

Please note that Teams Chat deleted by a retention policy is gone permanently and cannot be recovered. Everyone across the tenant will be subject to the retention policy. 

Any files or links that are shared in one-on-one chat will disappear along with the chat history; however, files shared with OneDrive or SharePoint will still be accessible. To access these files, go to Files > OneDrive > Microsoft Teams Chat Files. 

We are giving all faculty, staff, librarians and students advance notices along with the opportunity to review your chat history in case you have any important links or files that need to be retrieved and kept. Moving forward, if you feel there are chats that are pertinent to projects or other teams, it is recommended to initiate these conversations and share these links within a specific Microsoft Teams channel. Users are also encouraged to revert to email for business-related communications. 

If you are on the seven-day policy, you will not be affected by this change and your chats will continue to be on retention for seven days. If you are on the 60-day policy, you will revert to the new 30-day policy. 

Please note that Teams Chat deleted by a retention policy is gone permanently and cannot be recovered. Everyone across the tenant will be subject to the retention policy.

There is currently no way to automate the export of chat content other than manually copying and pasting to another platform. However, due to the factors stated above we do not encourage users to retain their chat history indefinitely, even through manual means. 

Please note that Teams Chat deleted by a retention policy is gone permanently and cannot be recovered. Everyone across the tenant will be subject to the retention policy.

There are a few steps you can start taking: 

  • First, review your chat history. You will need a lot of time for this! 
  • Identify any relevant files that have been shared over one-on-one or group chats in Teams and move them from your OneDrive Teams chat folder into another relevant folder. If it’s a file that is shared and collaborated on, consider moving it into a Teams channel folder or SharePoint site. 
  • Keep an eye out for future communications
  • Join our information sessions: 
  • Spread the word! 

A designated Teams channel refers to a specific channel within a Microsoft Teams team that is set aside for a particular purpose or topic. Channels in Microsoft Teams are dedicated sections that help organize conversations, files, and tools around various subjects, projects, or disciplines, making collaboration more structured and efficient.

Here are some key points about channels in Microsoft Teams:

  • Channels sit inside of teams: They are part of the broader team and are used for conversations and sharing related to a specific topic, department, or project.
  • Types of channels: There are standard channels open to all team members, private channels for confidential discussions, and shared channels for collaboration with people inside and outside your organization.
  • General channel: Every team has a General channel, which is the default channel for team-wide communication and cannot be deleted.
  • Organization: Channels can be organized by anything relevant to the team, such as group, project, feature, etc., and are designed to keep the team’s work focused and organized.

Yes, messages sent to yourself will also be subject to deletion by the retention policy.

The retention policy affects all direct chats including the messages users send to themselves. Teams treats messages sent to your own account similarly to those sent to other users in terms of storage and retentions.

Support  

  • Please refer to the knowledge base article with details on the Teams Chat Retention Policy implementation. 
  • If you have questions regarding this policy, please feel free to contact the support team. 
Information sessions