Carnegie Mellon University

Guidelines for Email Retention


The purpose of this Guideline is to instruct users on appropriate retention of email messages upon departing the university or transferring to a new business unit within the university. For business reasons or litigation purposes your business emails may need to be accessed. It is important that all pertinent job specific business email be retained by the individual.

Carnegie Mellon University will maintain access of university emails in a user's inbox to be used for business continuity purposes for up to one year after separation from the university.

Applies To

This Guideline applies to all Carnegie Mellon University personnel who use their university email for business purposes. 


Business Email is defined as any email that is used to conduct official univerisity business.


  • Retain university business emails. Preserve any email supporting or relevant to university business.  Prior to separation from the university, work with your supervisor and/or colleagues to determine whether any email threads should be forwarded or otherwise transferred for business continuity purposes. 
  • Personal email may be deleted prior to separation at the employees discretion.

The following are additional points to consider when retaining business email:

  • Consider what type of business related email messages need prior to employee departure/separation
    Supervisors should consider what type of business related email needs to be retained, as well as how to obtain business related email of employees who are departing or separating from the university before the email messages become unavailable.
  • Consider creating a process to save email messages pertaining to business continuity 

    Work with members of your department to create a process for saving business continuity email messages. This may include forwarding messages to a supervisor, using a university cloud storage solution, or sharing a specific mail folder between supervisor and departing individual. The mail folder would remain available for ~30 days and would allow the supervisor to obtain any necessary business email messages that may be needed. Folders for specific projects, services, etc. make business email easier to find and tends to make inadvertently viewing personal messages much less likely. 

  • Email messages can be accessed for up to one year after separation from the university

    University emails can be accessed for up to one year after the account has been deactived by the university. Contact the Help Center at for more information.

Additional Information

If you have any questions or comments related to this Guideline, please send email to the University Information Security Office at

Revision History

Status:  Date Published 
Published:  11/13/2020 
Last Reviewed:  11/13/2020
Last Updated:  11/13/2020