Record management capabilities within Microsoft Purview have vastly improved over the last few years.  With features such as adaptive scopes, auto-apply retention capabilities, and much more, the ability to apply different techniques to your record management needs is vastly growing.  Throughout all of these features and enhancements, the foundation of records management in Microsoft 365 is based on one real component: the record label.  Now before all of you get upset and rage close this blog post, I am not saying retention policies, retention label policies, or other components aren’t important.  They all have their place for information governance in Microsoft 365.  But record labels have all the real options and where all the real record management magic happens.  In this series, I am going to do a deep dive into the different Microsoft Purview retention label types.  What the differences are, the options available to you as administrators or record managers, and how they can be used within your organization.

Microsoft Purview Retention Label Types

I have found that many people that start looking into using record labels in Microsoft 365 are not aware there are multiple types of record labels.  In fact, there are three distinct types of retention labels available in Microsoft Purview.  The reason this isn’t widely known is that the labels themselves aren’t distinctly called out by their specific name in Purview.  In this series, I’ll cover how to tell the difference in the menus, but for now, I’ll list them below:

  1. Retention Label (FYI, I will often refer to these as standard labels or standard retention labels)
  2. Record Label
  3. Regulatory Label

Each of these retention label types has differences, and I will cover this in future posts, but they all have similar qualities to be aware of.  These similarities include the following:

  1. Retention Triggers – each label type has a trigger that starts the retention schedule.  The triggers include
    • when the file was created
    • when the file was last modified
    • when the label was applied to the content
    • when a specific event has occurred within the lifecycle of the content
  2. Retention Schedule – each label has a schedule or a countdown from the trigger to the completion of the retention process.
  3. Post-Retention Activities – each label can complete various tasks once the retention schedule is complete.  Such activities include:
    • initiate a disposition review
    • dispose of the content (without a review)
    • change to a different label (also known as daisy-chaining retention labels)
    • initiate a custom workflow in Power Automate
    • do nothing (members with necessary access have to remove the file themselves)

Retention Label Categories

Note: This next section contains terminology I use.  Microsoft doesn’t use the following as descriptors, but I find that it helps when describing options available to organizations when using Purview records management.

As stated in the disclaimer above, I also lump retention into three categories.  These categories are separate from retention label types in that they describe the purpose of the label as opposed to the distinct configuration options of a retention label.

  1. Retention Label
    • The retention label’s purpose is exactly as it sounds.  Its job is to retain content based on the configurations set in the retention label options
    • The retention label contains the largest number of available options and features for retention.  This series will focus on this category of label
  2. Deletion Label
    • Like a retention label, a deletion label is applied to content, but its primary purpose is to ensure the content is deleted by the end of the retention schedule.  It won’t stop users from deleting the content during the retention period, but it will ensure it is removed once the schedule is complete.
      • A deletion label is often seen in organizations that have to deal with Freedom of Information requests (FOIA or FOIP) and need to ensure information is removed at end-of-life if not before.
    • Deletion policies lack many of the options of a retention policy.  The options are limited to:
      • Retention trigger and retention schedule
      • Deletion or modification of label after the retention schedule completion
  3. Labeling label
    • I struggled to come up with a name to describe this one, but this is exactly what it does.  No retention or deletion controls.  Just another way to label the content.

Retention Label Types - Label Categories

In the future blogs of this topic I will explore the intricacies of each of the retention label types I outlines in this post.  I’ll cover the capabilities of each type and the limitations.  I’ll also demonstrate how Microsoft allows organizations to modify the fundamental capabilities of the different retention label types in Microsoft 365 Purview.


Thanks for reading!