Electronic Messages — What to Keep and For How Long

This chart provides an overview of basic records retention categories for email and other messaging functions that allow for quick communications (i.e. chats, instant messages). Employees should refer to the Best Practices in Email Management presentation for more guidance on managing email. How long to retain a message that is a business record depends on its retention category, as shown below.

Record Retention CategoryWhat To Do
Messages that are considered Non-recordsDelete promptly, or as soon as they are no longer immediately useful.
Messages with Variable Retention PeriodsCheck the UC Records Retention Schedule for a prescribed retention period. If there is no defined period, see section 0001 Transitory Records. Save records that colleagues should be able to access to the unit’s central storage repository.
Messages with Permanent RetentionPermanent records should be accessible to more than one authorized individual, and therefore, stored in the unit’s central storage repository. For messages that may have historical long-term value, contact the University Archivist for an evaluation.
Messages under Records HoldsRetain until officially notified that the hold is no longer in place and the records may be destroyed.

Keep in mind:

  • California Public Records Act (CPRA) and Other Disclosure Requirements. Messages should be appropriate for a business setting: All messages are potentially subject to disclosure to the public under the CPRA, to any individuals about whom the messages pertain under FERPA or the IPA, and to parties to a lawsuit pursuant to discovery.
  • Electronic Communications Policy. All messages are subject to the UC Electronic Communications Policy and, in situations allowed by policy, may be accessed without the holder’s consent. This policy also covers acceptable situations for incidental personal use of IT resources.
  • Litigation and Other Records Holds. Records holds may be placed on messages when the University (a) anticipates or is involved in litigation, (b) a government investigation has begun, (c) an audit has begun or (d) a California Public Records Act request has been received. Messages subject to records holds must NOT be deleted until you have been officially notified that the hold has been lifted.
Last modified: Apr 29, 2024