Back to Blog
24 Oct 2023

How long do Google and Microsoft keep your data?

In today’s digital age, more organisations are turning to cloud storage solutions to store their critical data. Two of the most popular cloud service providers in the UK are Google (with Google Workspace, formerly G Suite) and Microsoft (with Microsoft 365).

While both these platforms provide robust solutions for data storage, there is a growing concern about data retention and the importance of cloud-to-cloud backup. Let’s delve into how long these tech giants retain your data and why you might need an additional backup strategy.

Google Workspace Data Retention

Google Workspace offers a range of productivity and collaboration tools, including Gmail, Drive, and Calendar. Here’s what you need to know about their data retention policies:

Gmail: Once you delete an email from Gmail, it goes into the ‘Trash’ where it remains for 30 days. After that, it gets permanently deleted.

Drive: Similar to Gmail, deleted files in Google Drive move to the ‘Trash’. These files stay there for 30 days before permanent deletion. However, if a user manually empties the Trash or a specific file is deleted from the Trash, recovery becomes impossible.

Shared Drives: Only members with ‘Manager’ access can delete files in Shared Drives. Once deleted, these files are retained for 30 days before permanent deletion.

Google Vault: This is an advanced solution designed for eDiscovery and archiving needs. It allows businesses to set retention rules, preserving data for a specific period, even if users delete them from their accounts.

Microsoft 365 Data Retention

Microsoft 365 provides a suite of applications, including Outlook, OneDrive, and SharePoint. Here’s an overview of their data retention policies:

Outlook: Deleted emails in Outlook first go to the ‘Deleted Items’ folder. If they’re further removed from this folder, they move to the ‘Recoverable Items’ folder, where they stay for another 14 days (for most subscriptions) or up to 30 days for some others.

OneDrive: Deleted files in OneDrive are kept in the ‘Recycle Bin’ for 93 days. If a file is deleted from the Recycle Bin or the bin is manually emptied, the file can no longer be recovered.

SharePoint: SharePoint has two stages of recycle bins. The first stage is similar to OneDrive’s Recycle Bin. If a file is deleted here, it goes to the second stage Recycle Bin, where it stays for another 93 days.

Retention Policies: Microsoft 365 offers advanced retention policies that administrators can configure. This allows for data preservation beyond the default periods.

Why Cloud-to-Cloud Backup?

While both Google and Microsoft offer mechanisms to retain and recover deleted data, these are limited by specific time frames. Additionally, user errors, malicious attacks, or software glitches can lead to data loss beyond recovery. Here’s why cloud-to-cloud backup is crucial:

  • Extended Retention: Backup solutions often allow for extended or even indefinite data retention, providing peace of mind.
  • Protection Against User Errors: Accidental deletions or changes can be easily rectified by restoring data from a backup.
  • Security: In the event of ransomware or other malicious attacks, having a separate backup can be a lifesaver.
  • Compliance: For businesses that need to adhere to specific data retention regulations, cloud-to-cloud backups can ensure compliance.

To ensure comprehensive protection of your critical data, it’s wise to consider additional cloud-to-cloud backup solutions, especially for businesses operating in the UK, where data protection regulations are stringent.

Both companies place the burden of backups on you - it's in their T&Cs.

Having a layered approach to data backup and understanding the retention policies of your primary cloud service provider can go a long way in ensuring your data’s safety and availability.

Graham Smith

By Graham Smith