Data retention policy
Available on Enterprise plans
Cloud and self-hosted deployments
Available in legacy Mattermost Enterprise Edition E20
By default, Mattermost stores all message history providing an unlimited search history to System Admins and end users.
In Mattermost Enterprise, you can set a global retention policy as well as custom retention policies to manage how long messages and file uploads are kept in Mattermost channels and direct messages.
For scheduled data retention jobs to work, the global retention policy for files as well as the global retention policy for messages configuration settings in the
config.json file must be set to
true. These configuration settings are disabled by default.
Once a message or a file is deleted, the action is irreversible. Please use caution when setting up global or custom data retention policies.
Configure a global data retention policy
To set a global data retention policy:
Go to System Console > Compliance > Data Retention Policies.
Select Edit from the menu located to the right of the Global retention policy table.
Specify a global retention policy for channel messages and direct messages by selecting a Channel & direct message retention option from the dropdown, then set how long to keep those messages. When a time is set, messages and file attachments older than the duration you set will be deleted. The minimum retention period is one day.
Select a File retention option from the dropdown. Set the number of days or years to keep files. When a time is set, uploaded files which are older than the duration you set will be deleted from your file storage system (either from your local disk or your Amazon S3 service as specified in System Console > Environment > File Storage. The minimum retention period is one day. The global file policy deletes all files regardless of whether they’re in a direct message, private, or public channel.
Under the Policy log section, select Edit to specify the start time of the daily scheduled data retention job. Choose a time when fewer people are using your system.
Select Save. Messages and files older than the duration you set will be deleted at the specified server time, as applicable.
Configure a custom data retention policy
To set a custom data retention policy:
Go to System Console > Compliance > Data Retention Policies.
Select Add policy to the right of the Custom retention policies table.
Specify a name for your policy.
Specify a custom retention policy for channel and direct messages by selecting a Channel & direct message retention option from the dropdown, then set how long to keep uploaded files. When a time is set, messages and file attachments older than the duration you set will be deleted. The minimum retention period is one day.
Assign teams and channels to this policy by selecting Add teams and searching for a specific team, or by selecting Add channels and searching for a specific channel. If only teams are specified, all channels for selected teams will be included in the a policy.
Under the Policy log section, select Edit to specify the start time of the daily scheduled data retention job. Choose a time when fewer people are using your system. If a time is already set for a global retention policy, then the same time applies to custom data retention policies.
Save the settings. Messages and files older than the duration you set will be deleted at the specified server time, as applicable.
Run a deletion job manually
You can also run the deletion job manually at any time by selecting Run Deletion Job Now in System Console > Compliance > Data Retention Policy.
If using data retention and ElasticSearch, ensure the ElasticSearch aggregate search indexes setting is set to a value that is greater than your data retention policy in days.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What happens when a message is deleted?
The message is removed from the Mattermost user interface and deleted from the
Posts table. The message is no longer searchable and cannot be retrieved in pinned posts or saved posts lists.
Replies that did not exceed the message duration are still displayed in the user interface. However, further replies are no longer possible.
If there was a file attached to the message, it will be removed from the user interface only.
What happens when a file is deleted by the file retention policy?
The file attachment is removed from the Mattermost user interface, deleted from the
FileInfo table, and from your local disk or Amazon S3 service as specified in System Console > Environment > File Storage.
Why didn’t an old file get deleted after running the deletion job?
First, check the data deletion was successful in the deletion job table in System Console > Compliance > Data Retention Policy.
If the files were uploaded prior to Mattermost v4.2, you will need to delete the files manually from your local file storage or Amazon S3 storage:
Wait until all files uploaded prior to Mattermost v4.2 are past the file retention policy duration.
teams/folder in the root of your Mattermost storage directory.
Note that these files will still be removed from the Mattermost user interface if they were uploaded in Mattermost v3.5 or later, which contain the FileInfo table.
Why do I see
Pending in the deletion job table with no details?
This usually means another data retention job is in progress. You can verify this in the deletion job table in System Console > Compliance > Data Retention Policy.
How is data retention handled in the mobile apps?
When messages or files are deleted, they are no longer searchable in the Mattermost mobile apps.
In v1.5 and later of the iOS and Android apps, messages and files are deleted from local storage in the following cases, if they exceed the retention policy duration:
When the user opens the app.
When the user puts the app into the background.
In v1.4 and earlier of the mobile apps, messages and files are not cleared from local storage when the data retention policy is enabled.
How do I know if a data retention job fails?
Mattermost provides the status of each data retention job in System Console > Compliance > Data Retention Policy. Here, you can see if the job succeeded or failed, including the details of the error.
Additionally, any failures are returned in the server logs. The error log begins with the string
Failed job and includes a job_id key/value pair. Data retention job failures are identified with worker name
EnterpriseDataRetention. You can optionally create a script that programmatically queries for such failures and notifies the appropriate system.
What happens when the data retention period is changed?
Data retention runs once a day at the time specified in the
config.json file. Changing the retention period does not automatically schedule any additional run of the data retention job - it only updates how long data is kept in Mattermost.
Does the System Administrator get any notification when the data retention period is changed?
No, the new config is updated, but the System Admin does not receive any feedback on what the effects will be (e.g. reporting of how many messages are to be deleted).
Does the data retention job affect the audits table?
Prior to v5.20, data retention would delete all user activity corresponding to the data retention time configuration. From v5.20, the audit table will retain the user activity corresponding to the data retention time configuration.
Does the data retention job include archived channels?
Posts and attachments in archived channels are affected by the data retention job. If a post exceeds the age configured for the data retention job it will be deleted from the database.
How long does it take to run a deletion query and does it affect server performance?
Data retention runs the actual deletion query in batches, deleting data in blocks of 1000 records per query. This is so the database won’t be locked up for extended periods of time with long-running queries. Keeping to this limit keeps the query down to a few milliseconds’ execution time on the database itself.
Each batch of data is deleted based on indexes - making the queries quick to execute on small batches. This helps the server remain fully responsive while the process is running.
How do I know whether the data retention job is running/scheduled?
The job scheduler runs the data retention job based on the time specified in the configuration settings. At this time a
DEBUG-level log line is printed:
Scheduling data retention job.
When a job server picks up that scheduled job for execution, a
DEBUG-level log line is generated:
Worker EnterpriseDataRetention: Received a new candidate job.
When the job is complete, an
INFO-level log line is generated:
Worker EnterpriseDataRetention: Job is complete.