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Litigation hold, also known as legal hold, allows organizations to preserve electronically stored information. When a user’s mailbox is put on litigation hold, the user can delete items from their mailbox but the items are retained on the servers in the Microsoft Exchange datacenter. Litigation hold retains e-mail messages, calendar items, tasks, and other mailbox items. Litigation hold also protects the original version of each mailbox item from modification by the user. If a user changes the properties of items in a mailbox on litigation hold, a copy of the item before it was changed is retained.
When a user deletes messages from their Deleted Items folder or uses Shift+Delete to permanently delete a mailbox item, the deleted items are copied to a hidden folder in the user’s mailbox. This folder is called Recoverable Items. Its also known as the dumpster. Permanently deleted items are copied to a subfolder called Deletions in the Recoverable Items folder.
Items in the Recoverable Items folder are retained for 14 days by default and then purged by Microsoft Exchange. When a mailbox is put on litigation hold, the Recoverable Items folder isn’t purged and items in this folder are retained indefinitely. Litigation hold doesn’t affect users’ day-to-day e-mail workflow, so users can continue to modify and delete mailbox items as they normally would.
Users can manually purge items from the Recoverable Items folder.
Items that are manually purged from the Recoverable Items folder are moved to a subfolder called Purges. If the user’s mailbox is put on litigation hold, Microsoft Exchange retains items in the Purges folder indefinitely.
If a mailbox is on litigation hold, Microsoft Exchange protects the original version of each mailbox item by retaining an unaltered copy of the item if a user changes the properties of that item. A copy of the original message and all its MAPI properties are saved to the Versions subfolder in Recoverable Items folder in a user’s mailbox. This happens when one of these properties is changed:
Users can’t access the original version of a modified item that is copied to the Versions subfolder in the Recoverable Items folder. However, administrators can use Multi-Mailbox Searches to search users’ mailboxes for original and modified versions of a mailbox item.
The following diagram shows the subfolders in the Recoverable Items folder and the message flow when items are deleted, modified, and purged.
Remove the litigation hold