Electronic Mail Retention Policy

Policy Information
Policy TitleElectronic Mail Retention Policy
Responsible OfficeInformation Technology Services
Policy TypeInformation Technology and Information Security
Policy Number310
Last Revision Date1/29/2024

Purpose of Policy

  • This policy, which is Binghamton University’s policy regarding the retention, purging, and expungement of electronic mail (email) on University‑sponsored email systems, applies fully and equally to all employees and volunteers of the University.
  • The goal of this policy is to reduce the costs and risks associated with storing email long-term including storage and server costs and potential security breaches.

Mandatory Use of University Issued Email Account

  • All University employees are required to use their University Information Technology Services, ITS, issued email account when conducting University related business.  Employees may not use their own personal email accounts or other forms of non-University issued technology to conduct University related business.  Keep personal and University business communication separate by using a personal email for personal matters, and an ITS University email account for work-related communication.


  • All email is retained within the user's account until it is moved to a trash file ("trash") by the email account holder.
  • There are several ways to delete a message: Select the message and then press the Delete key on your keyboard, Select the message and drag it to the trash, Open the message, and select delete. Or by other client supported methods.  Keep in mind archiving a message moves the message to an archive folder. Archived messages will not be deleted.
  • Email that is not a record nor needed for operational or historical purposes should be deleted from the system.
  • Email Disposition schedule:
    • 0-30 days Trash. Messages that have been in Trash more than 30 days will be automatically deleted, or the Trash folder may be emptied by the account holder
    • Additional 25 days Backup. After purged from trash, messages may be recovered by a system administrator for 25 days.
    • Permanent Purge. Soon after the 25-day backup messages are purged from the system by Google. The final purge is at Google's discretion. The end result of this purge will be that the email is no longer in the email systems and is not recoverable.
  • Upon request from the Office of General Counsel, a litigation hold may be placed on the contents of a user email account. The hold will also cause any held emails which have not been expunged to be retained until the hold is lifted.  Further, any emails sitting in the trash that are subject to the hold, will be required to be retained.
  • Users may create folders or separate drives to safely and securely keep and maintain records subject to litigation holds until such time as they are advised that the hold is no longer in effect. 
  • The University will not retain spam email messages that are filtered out by the campus spam filter.

Treatment of Email Records

  • Most emails are not records. Instead, most emails are simply ESI (Electronically Stored Information) without a lasting legal, operational, or historic value.
  • Only emails that serve a legal, operational, or historical value are records, and the rest should be deleted accordingly.
  • The content of the email will determine what, if any, classification of records the email falls under, and retention of the email will then be in accordance with the SUNY Records Schedules based on the type of record it is.
  • Emails that fall into a specific categories of records on the two records schedules that apply to SUNY should be kept in accordance with the corresponding schedule item. The schedules applicable to SUNY are available via the SUNY Policy Doc. No. 6609 Records Retention and Disposition (with schedule appendices that cover activities related to SUNY-specific business), and the State Archives’ General Retention and Disposition Schedule for New York State Government Records schedule that covers records common to all state agencies –such as financial and employment records.
  • Emails that do not fall into a category of records identified on either the SUNY schedule or the State schedule are likely not records, and should be deleted permanently unless they serve an important operational value to the employee or are subject to a legal hold.
  • Emails that are not records may convert to a record in the event of a litigation hold issued by the Office of General Counsel or if litigation can be reasonably anticipated with respect to the subject of said email.  In addition, an email may become a record if a FOIL request issued to the University seeks said email, or if said email becomes subject to a University or third-party audit.  For more information related to this topic, please refer to SUNY’s Legal Proceeding Preparation (E-Discovery) Procedure. 
  • It is the responsibility of those individuals who create and receive email messages to assure that they save emails on a University owned system that become records as stated above.  This includes official business records from a personal email account.

Other Related Policies and Enforcement 

  • This policy is to be followed in conjunction with and in accordance with the University’s Acceptable Use Policy.
  • The University’s Chief Information Officer, Human Resources Department, Auditor, and Chief Campus Counsel shall have oversight of this policy.  Non-compliance with the policy may result in disciplinary procedures.
  • For further information on email retention, please see SUNY’s Email Retention Guidance.