Data governance in the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center

Use the data governance features in the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center to archive and preserve content in Exchange Online mailboxes, SharePoint Online sites, and OneDrive for Business locations, and import data into your Office 365 organization.

How to get to the Office 365 Data governance features

The Data governance features in Office 365 are accessible by using the Security & Compliance Center. Here's how to get to the page.

To go directly to the Security & Compliance Center:

  1. Go to

  2. Sign in to Office 365 using your work or school account.

  3. In the left pane, select Data governance to see the Data governance features.

Data governance features in the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center

To go to the Security & Compliance Center using the Office 365 app launcher:

  1. Sign in to Office 365 using your work or school account.

  2. Select the app launcher App launcher button in the upper left corner, and then select the Security & Compliance tile.

  3. In the left pane, select Data governance to see the Data governance features.

Data governance features

The following table describes the tools that are available under Data governance in the Security & Compliance Center.




Use the Import feature to import PST files to Exchange mailboxes or import data files to SharePoint sites in your organization. For both types of files, you can upload the files over the network or copy them to a hard drive and then ship the drive to a Microsoft datacenter, where your data will be imported to Office 365.

Tip: You can also import and archive third-party data—from social media platforms, instant messaging platforms, and document collaboration platforms—to mailboxes in your Office 365 organization. After third-party data is imported, you can apply Security & Compliance Center features, such as archiving, retention, and content search to this data. For more information, see Archiving third-party data in Office 365.


Use the Archive feature to enable or disable a user's archive mailbox, which provide users with an alternate storage location for historical messaging data. When you use the Content search feature in the Security & Compliance Center to search a user's mailbox, their archive mailbox will also be searched.

When archive mailboxes are enabled, an archive policy will automatically move messages from a user’s primary mailbox to their archive mailbox after a specified period. And users can still access these messages in their archive mailbox. The default archive policy that is assigned to mailboxes moves messages to the archive mailbox two years after the date a message is delivered to the mailbox.


Use the Retention feature to manage the lifecycle of email and documents by keeping the content you need and removing content after it’s no longer required. While your organization may be required to retain content for a period of time because of compliance, legal, or other business requirements, keeping content longer than required might create unnecessary legal risk. These retention features let you manage how long your organization retains content.

  • Retention tags and policies      Use to manage the email lifecycle by archiving or deleting messages that are older than a specified period. In Exchange, a default retention policy is assigned to a mailbox when it’s created.

  • Document deletion policies      Use to delete documents located in SharePoint site collections after a specific period of time. You can enforce a single mandatory policy on all site collections created from the same site collection template or you can allow site owners to choose from several policies that you centrally create and manage. You can also allow site owners to opt out altogether if they decide a policy doesn’t apply to their content.

  • Preservation policies      Use to preserve content in mailboxes, public folders, and sites in your organization. You can set up preservation policies to preserve the content indefinitely, until you remove the policy, or for a specific period of time. You can also specify a date range and keywords to narrow the content that’s preserved. Preserved content remains in-place, where it's currently located, so people can continue to work with it. If content is modified or deleted, a copy is saved to a secure location.

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