Google Vault: What Does It Do?

If you “Google it”, Google will provide you with the following breakdown of their Vault service:

“Google Vault lets you retain, hold, search, and export data to support your organization’s archiving and eDiscovery needs. Vault supports:

  • Gmail messages
  • Drive files
  • Google Chat messages (history turned on)
  • Google Meet recordings and associated chat, Q&A, and polls logs
  • Google Groups messages
  • Google Voice for Google Workspace text messages, voicemails and their transcripts, and call logs
  • New Google Sites
  • Classic Hangouts messages (history turned on)

Vault is entirely web-based, so there’s no need to install or maintain any software.”

Simply put, this core service allows you to determine what content gets preserved in the domain and then offers easy access for searched and exported data to ensure it meets your eDiscovery and compliance needs. Its goal is not to restore data quickly but to retain critical data in an organized way, so that searching for specific information becomes easier. Vault becomes a valuable tool when school administrators need to search for data for litigations or for regulatory compliance.

Not a backup

While Vault is an excellent resource for retaining, archiving, searching, and exporting your institution’s email, hangout, and drive data, it is not a backup solution or disaster recovery system. You are able to keep data for as long as you need it and remove data when you don’t need it anymore. But once removed, there is no recovery. It is also important to understand there is no electronic recovery from Vault back to Google Workspace. The primary use for Vault should be for eDiscovery and compliance investigations and requests.

Effective backup and disaster recovery tool: Sys Cloud

If you are unsure how to proceed through any of the facets of Google Vault, CDW Amplified for Education offers regular technical training based on Google for Education procedures and EDU best practices. It covers Vault plus many other core services. We also conduct one-on-one training to ensure school Google Admins are confident in their settings and practices.

So what data types can be retained through Vault?

  • Gmail messages

  • Drive files

  • Google Chat messages (history turned on)

  • Google Meet recordings and associated chat, Q&A, and polls logs

  • Google Groups messages

  • Google Voice for Google Workspace text messages, voicemails and their transcripts, and call logs

  • new Google Sites

  • Classic Hangouts messages (history turned on)

How do you access Google Vault?

The Vault can be reached multiple ways:

Option #1

Apps > Google Workspace > Google Vault – click on the URL

Option #2

Option #3

Waffle Iron – located at the upper right corner of your admin console (if made available by your domain admin)


Once you have accessed your Google Vault, the next step is to determine your retention policies. Whose data, what data, and for how long data should be stored are the key questions that must be addressed. Setting up custom rules that are based on specific OUs, date ranges, or terms are the typical parameters used when applying retention policies. If your policies are not set to indefinite you will be asked when to expunge data. Pay close attention to the differences between the expunge options. 

Note: The first option will only expunge data if the owner has deleted the data. The second option will expunge data as soon as the retention rate has been met.

Consult with your privacy and legal team to ensure your selection meets the requirements of your policies. 

Be mindful that Vault immediately begins the process of purging data that exceeds the retention coverage period as soon as you submit a new rule. This can include data that users expect to keep. Do not proceed to initiate any new rule until you’re sure the rule is configured correctly.


Holds are typically created in response to an investigation or legal issue and they will preserve data indefinitely. A hold takes precedence over a retention rule. When a hold is deleted, data is then subject to applicable retention rules and only those who have access to a matter can see who and what is on hold.


After you have located the messages or files you used Vault to locate, you can then export them. The export will provide you with a comprehensive copy of data that matches your search, metadata linked to the data and corroborating information to show the data matches that which is stored on Google’s server. Your exports from Vault will be available for 15 days after creation and you can export in the following formats depending on the type of data being exported:

If you’d like some hands-on support in setting up and maintaining your Google Vault, email to get started with the Vault Support Stack! To purchase a support contract or add additional hours, contact a Google Customer Support Specialist.

Stay on top of Google for Education news and updates by subscribing to the monthly CDW Amplified for Education newsletter.


Document Version Date Description of Change
1.0 3/18/2024 Updated reference of RAM to GCSS


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