Deleting and expiring settings in AutoArchive explained

You can change the settings and options to customize AutoArchive. However, the settings for expiring items and deleting items can be confusing.

AutoArchive moves items from their original location in Microsoft Outlook to an archive file folder when they expire, that is, when they pass their aging period. The different types of Outlook items have default aging periods that do not change unless you change the settings for them manually.

Tell me more about when specific Outlook items expire

Default aging periods for when items in folders expire or are deleted


Aging period

Inbox and Drafts

6 months

Sent Items and Deleted Items

2 months


3 months


6 months


6 months


6 months


6 months


Do not expire

Note: Folders you create that contain the same type of items as Inbox, Calendar, Tasks, Notes, or Journal have the same default, six-month aging period..

Determine the age of an item

Item type

When the aging period starts

E-mail message

The received date/time or when you last changed and saved the message, whichever is later. Marking a message as read or unread is an example of a message change.

Meeting, event, or appointment

The date when you last changed and saved the item, whichever is later. Recurring items are not AutoArchived.


The completion date or when you last changed and saved the task. Tasks that are not marked complete are not AutoArchived. Tasks assigned to other people are archived only if marked complete.


When you last changed and saved the note.

Journal entry

The date the Journal entry was created or when you last changed and saved the entry.


Contacts are not archived by default. However, you can manually archive them.


  • Items are stored in their archived locations unless you change one or more AutoArchive settings, choosing to have the items deleted when they expire. The items are not deleted from their archived locations, they can only automatically deleted before they are moved to their archive location. Once they are archived, they can only be deleted manually.

  • Choosing an option to have items deleted permanently deletes the items automatically when they expire. They are not archived. For instance, if you click Delete expired items (e-mail folders only), this option deletes all messages in all your e-mail folders, such as Inbox, Sent, or Drafts, when they reach the end of their aging periods. The messages are not archived.

Change the settings for AutoArchive

  1. On the Tools menu, click Options.

  2. Click the Other tab, and then click AutoArchive.

  3. Click the settings that you want, and then click OK.

For more information that includes descriptions of all the AutoArchive settings, see Use AutoArchive to back up or delete items.

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