How to Change Email Retention Policy in Outlook 2013

Written By Tej Pratap Shukla
Anuraag Singh
Approved By Anuraag Singh  
Published On September 24th, 2022
Reading Time 6 Minutes Reading

The retention policy is the length of time of an item or a folder from the arrival time until it is been moved to the Deleted Items folder. In other words, the email retention settings state a time period of items until expiry, when the email is deleted. Basically, the retention period begins from the creation date (i.e., the send emails) or the received date (i.e., the received emails).

In most of the organizations, the volume and data complexity is increasing day-by-day in terms of email documents, instant messages. With retention policy, it becomes easy to retain content so that it cannot be deleted permanently before the retention period ends. Also, it enables to delete the content permanently at the end of the retention period. Hence, most the users want to know how to change email retention policy in Outlook 2016, 2013, 2010 etc. In this blog, it is mainly focussed on the benefits and the tricks to set retention policy on a folder in Outlook 2013 and other versions.

User Queries – Change Outlook Email Retention Policy

“Recently I have noticed that the retention policy in my Outlook is set to a default of 30 days. It indicated that the emails will be retained only for 30 days of deletion, after which it will be permanently deleted. I am confused and need to change the settings immediately. Is the retention policy settings can be changed? If so, please suggest the correct method to set email retention policy on the folder. Thanks in advance!”

“I have 60 days of the strict retention policy. There is an urgent need to archive past emails. I am able to copy MSG files to a local folder, but I cannot sort them as per the received date. If I try to export the emails to a local PST file, is that the file will be affected by the retention policy? Is there some other way out to change email retention policy in Outlook 2016?”

What Happens in an Item is Deleted Permanently? 
The question is that, what if an email or a folder has completed its retention period. It will be permanently deleted or removed from the account. And there will not be any manual solution to restore hard deleted emails back. The only solution is to go for a reliable third-party application like Outlook PST Recovery Tool to recover permanently deleted emails from an Outlook PST file. Visit on the given link for proper details.

Benefits of Effectively Managing Mail Retention Policy

  • Reduce risk in case of litigation or a security breach by deleting the old data permanently which is not required
  • Helps the organization to share information effectively by ensuring that the users work with the relevant and current content
  • Ensures a proactive decision in terms of data retention, whether to retain or delete content or both to retain and delete the content
  • Enables to apply a single policy to either the entire organization or just a specific locations or users
  • Apply a policy to all content or just a content which meets a specific keyword or specific types of sensitive information

Note: Whenever a content is subject to a retention policy, a user can edit and work with the content as if nothing has been changed. As the content is being retained in the original location. On the other hand, if a user edits or deletes the content which is subject to the policy. Then, a copy of the content is been saved to a secure location where the data is retained.

Retention Period in Outlook 2013

Retention period specifically covers a range of time. One can set the email retention policy according to the requirement. This change of settings will help to change email retention policy in Outlook 2016, 2013, 2010 and other lower editions.

  • The policies which one can avail include, 1 Week Delete (7 days) and 1 Month Delete (1 month) option
  • In addition, to avail long-term policies, go for 1 Year Delete (1 year) and 5 Year Delete (5 years) option
  • In case of crucial data or data which cannot be deleted i.e., important messages or folder, choose Never Delete(Never) option

Tricks to Change Email Retention Policy in Outlook 2016 & 2019

Retention period of the email data items is set to a default retention period of two years. Therefore, emails which are of two years or beyond will be permanently deleted. In order to retain the emails, a user can set an individual retention policy to a folder. Hence, move all the emails to the folder and manually set a longer retention period.

Solution 1

  • Firstly, open Outlook application to set email retention policy in Outlook 2013
  • Then, click the Home menu and select the folder which needs to be changed

  • Now, on the Folder menu, click on the Policy option

  • Under Folder Policy list, choose the desired retention policy and click OK

Note: The mail retention policy can only be changed to the folders which are created. For Inbox, Outbox, Drafts, Deleted Items and Sent Items folders have fixed set policies.

Solution 2

A user can recover a data item which has been deleted by following the registry method. This can be done by creating or modifying the registry value which is mentioned below,

Value name: DumpsterAlwaysOn
Data type: DWORD
Value data: 1

Also Read: How to recover deleted attachment from Outlook account?


For a user who is looking out for a solution to set email retention policy in Outlook, this is a correct blog. This blog clearly explains the usage and the manual tricks to change email retention policy in Outlook 2016, 2013, 2010, 2007 etc. The manual solutions are restricted to some extent and sometimes fails to recover data which is permanently deleted. If a user wants to recover the permanently deleted data or other PST data items after the retention time period. Then, switch to Outlook Recovery- a professional tool. It is an effective tool to recover deleted Outlook emails from PST file. It is also capable to repair both minor and major corruption in the PST file.

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For what periods that we set the retention policies in Outlook?

An individual retention policy can be set for folders in the following period range:
1. One week
2. One Month
3. Six Months
4. One Year
5. Three Years
6. Five Years
7. Seven Years

How to change retention policy of Inbox, Sent and Drafts folder?

These folders have their retention policy set to 2 years by default. To change them, you will need to create a folder (or subfolder) and move emails into it. Then, follow the steps given in the article.

Can I set a retention policy in Outlook 2019, 2016, 2013, 2010?

Yes, you can set retention policies for folders in Outlook 2019, Outlook 2016, Outlook 2013 and earlier versions easily.

What happens when the retention policy expires for emails?

Once the policy expires, the emails are permanently deleted from MS Outlook. However, you can still recover them with an Outlook Recovery tool.


By Tej Pratap Shukla

A versatile technocrat, always in the search for new and interesting areas related to technology. Works on multiple technical problems faced by users frequently. Provides the user-friendly solutions to deal with numerous technical issues.