How to manage legal holds

Legal holds is a feature available to Dropbox Business teams that have purchased the Data Governance add-on. To purchase the Data Governance add-on, contact your Dropbox sales executive or fill out the Dropbox Business contact form.

Placing a legal hold on a team member allows team admins to view and export all the content that’s been created or modified by that member. Members affected by a legal hold will not be notified of the hold and will still maintain their permissions to create, edit, and delete files.

Team admins can:

Note: User management and support admins can’t create or manage legal holds.

Create a legal hold

To create a legal hold:

  1. Sign in to dropbox.com with your admin account.
  2. Click Admin console.
  3. Click Settings.
  4. Click Data governance.
  5. Click Legal holds.
  6. Click New hold.
  7. Fill out the name and details of the hold, then click Continue.
  8. Enter the name or email of the member or members you want to place a hold on, then click Continue.
    • You can add up to five members to one hold
  9. Select a start and end date for the hold.
    • You can set the start date in the past or today, but not in the future
    • You can set the end date in the past, today, in the future, or check Don’t set an end date
  10. Click Activate.

If you create a hold with a start date in the past, it may take some time to activate the hold. You will be notified via email when the hold is activated.

Note: A legal hold is considered active until a team admin releases the hold, even if the end date has passed. After the end date, new file versions will no longer be copied, but the existing copies will be available until you release the hold.

What types of files can I put on hold?

When you create a legal hold, copies of all files a member has created or edited between the start and end date period will be held with the exception of:

  • Cloud docs, including Dropbox Paper docs and Google Docs/Sheets/Slides
  • Files the member only previewed
  • Files the member has access to but hasn’t edited
  • Files that were created and modified before the user joined the team
  • Files the member no longer has access to at the time the hold is placed

Note: In rare cases, files may not be held if a member loses access to them shortly after creating or editing them.

Who can I place on legal hold?

You can place holds on active, invited, and suspended members of your team, including holds on other team admins and yourself.

You can’t place holds on deleted members, entire groups, or entire teams. However, you can delete a member while they are on hold.

View a legal hold

You can view any active or released legal hold at any time. To view a legal hold:

  1. Sign in to dropbox.com with your admin account.
  2. Click Admin console.
  3. Click Settings.
  4. Click Data governance.
  5. Click Legal holds.
  6. Toggle between the Active and Released tabs to view all of your team’s legal holds.

Edit a legal hold

You can edit the name and details of a hold or add or remove members; however, you can’t edit the dates of the hold. To edit a legal hold:

  1. Sign in to dropbox.com with your admin account.
  2. Click Admin console.
  3. Click Settings.
  4. Click Data governance.
  5. Click Legal holds.
  6. Click the checkbox that appears when you hover over the name of the legal hold you’d like to edit.
  7. Click Edit hold.
  8. Edit the name or details of the hold.
  9. Click Continue.
  10. Add or remove members from the hold.
  11. Click Continue.
  12. Review your changes.
  13. Click Save.

Release a legal hold

If you no longer need a hold, you can release the hold. This will remove all files associated with that hold and cannot be undone. To release a legal hold:

  1. Sign in to dropbox.com with your admin account.
  2. Click Admin console.
  3. Click Settings.
  4. Click Data governance.
  5. Click Legal holds.
  6. Click the checkbox that appears when you hover over the name of the legal hold you’d like to release.
  7. Click Release hold.

Export a legal hold

To see which files are being held without fully exporting the hold, you can export the hold summary .CSV file.

You can export legal holds to any folder in your Dropbox account. The export contains every file version that members created and edited during the dates that the hold was placed on.

Notes:

  • Files created within 24 hours prior to export may not be included
  • Names of files and folders in the export will be lowercase

To export a legal hold:

  1. Sign in to dropbox.com with your admin account.
  2. Click Admin console.
  3. Click Settings.
  4. Click Data governance.
  5. Click Legal holds.
  6. Click the checkbox that appears when you hover over the name of the legal hold you’d like to release.
  7. Click Export hold.
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