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Professionals often deal with a heavy load of information directly or indirectly relevant to their organization. To preserve the involved content, you apply retention policies in SharePoint or create an eDiscovery hold on the site. Once it is active, the content is preserved until the hold is deleted or the content location is removed from the hold. All these functionalities work like a breeze to safeguard your data.

But once applied, it blocks some other operations on a SharePoint site especially related to the deletion of the information. It could also lead to a few errors. This is the biggest reason for users opting to exclude a site from the eDiscovery hold or Retention policy. The process is easy to perform; you only need to follow the given approach.

What is the difference between eDiscovery hold and Retention policy?

There has always been a debate on eDiscovery hold vs. Retention policy. Hence, it is better to clarify the difference between the two before proceeding ahead. Both are retention services offered by Microsoft 365 to preserve your data. While these terms are often interchangeably used but they have stark differences.

A Retention policy refers to the rules the admin applies to retain data for a specific time and later delete it once the period is over. While eDiscovery is an independent tool used to identify, preserve, and export information, especially for legal purposes.

Reasons to exclude a site from eDiscovery hold/retention site –

Apart from keeping your essential data secure, an active eDiscovery hold or retention policy can also bring some difficulties for the users. It hampers a few other operations that otherwise can be performed trouble-free.

  1. Cannot delete the site:
    You cannot delete the site unless you remove the site from the eDiscovery hold or retention policy. An error will immediately occur-
  2. “Can’t delete site: A compliance policy is currently clocking this site deletion.”
  3. Prevents deletion of sub-sites:
    The applied retention policies in Office 365 cover all the site’s contents. But whenever you attempt to delete any sub-sites, you will receive an error message saying-
  4. “This site cannot be deleted because it is included in an eDiscovery hold or retention policy.”
  5. Delete all the content of the folder first:
    Users cannot delete a folder unless all its documents are deleted. Individually deleting thousands of documents is nearly impossible, and this error can become frustrating. An error message is displayed:

    “You have to delete all the items in this folder before you can delete the folder.”
    • Other operations where you might face issues are- renaming the site’s URL, bulk deletion of items, or eDiscovery tool not working error.
How to exclude a SharePoint site from eDiscovery hold?
  1. Sign in to the Microsoft 365 Admin center. Select All Admin Centers and open Security.Select All Admin Centers
  2. In the Office 365 Security & Compliance window, select eDiscovery from the left panel and click Open to open all the existing policies.
  3. Move to the Hold tab. Double-click on the required policy and click on Edit hold.
  4. Go to the Locations tab. Under SharePoint sites, click on Choose sites.
  5. The list of sites under the hold policy will be displayed. Click on the X option beside the site you want to exclude from the hold. Finally, select Done to save the changes.
How to exclude a SharePoint site from the retention policy?
  1. Log in to the Microsoft 365 Admin center. Click on Show all and select Compliance.
  2. From the left panel, select Policies. Click on Policies
  3. Locate the required retention policy and double-click on it.
  4. Click on the Edit option beside Applies to content in these locations.
  5. Under SharePoint sites, click on Exclude sites.
  6. Enter the site URL, select the + option, and select the checkbox.
  7. Click on the Exclude option to confirm the removal of the site.
Things to keep in mind while excluding a site-
  • Excluding sites from hold or policy requires time, ranging from 10 minutes to 24 hours, to take effect.
  • Once the eDiscovery hold is disabled, a period of 30 days, known as a delay hold, is applied to the content locations which were previously on hold. During this duration, the admins can recover some content before it gets permanently deleted.
  • Ensure you have all the required permissions in the Compliance Admin center to conduct the procedure.


eDiscovery hold and Retention policy are Microsoft utilities focused on preserving the user’s data. However, these often create issues while performing operations related to the deletion of items. To proceed smoothly, one must exclude the SharePoint site from the eDiscovery hold or Retention policy. It is a straightforward process, but the effects may take up to 24 hours to apply. If you plan to migrate your sites or any other data between SharePoint, it can be performed without assistance using the Kernel Migrator for SharePoint. The tool extends its support to all versions of SharePoint, including SharePoint Online.

Kernel Migrator for SharePoint