File Lifecycle Management in OneDrive


This article references guidelines published by SFU's Archives and Records Management department. To view the original publication, visit:

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OneDrive is a document hosting and synchronization service that has been provided to SFU faculty, staff, and students as part SFUs Microsoft 365 (M365) installation. When used as described in this guideline, OneDrive can reduce reliance on email, facilitate document sharing, enable remote access, and support document synchronization.

This guideline provides SFU employees with resources to help organize, manage, retain, and dispose of the documents they store and share in their OneDrive accounts in accordance with records management best practice.



The records management lifecycle is a framework that describes the distinct phases of a record's existence, from creation to final disposition. At SFU there are several different tools that individuals and departments can use to create, use, maintain and retain records.

OneDrive allows account holders to securely store, share and synchronise their individual files and folders from any device. OneDrive can be used during the creation and use phase of the records management lifecycle. For more information about OneDrive see OneDrive Best Practices for SFU Employees. MS Teams is a communication and collaboration tool.

MS Teams can be used during the creation and use phase of the records management lifecycle.

Once records reach the maintenance and retention phase of their lifecycle they should be transferred into a shared records repository such as a SharePoint on Premise Site, Shared Drives, ERMS, etc.). More guidance about records repositories is in development. Please visit the Records Management Links and Resources page for more information.

As ITS continues to introduce new Microsoft 365 services, additional tools for managing electronic records, such as SharePoint Online, will be made available. For more information see Microsoft 365 at SFU Roadmap.

This image visualizes the lifecycle of documents as a circle. It starts with Creation within OneDrive or Teams, leads in to Use within OneDrive or Teams, then leads in to Maintenance within ShareDrives, ERMS, SharePoint, then leads in to Retention within SharedDrives, ERMS, SharePoint, and ends with Disposition through the destruction of files or the transference of them to SFU Archives.

Managing Records in OneDrive

OneDrive is not meant to be a central location for the long-term storage of official university records. OneDrive should be used as a place to draft and develop official university records. Official university records should be transferred to a central storage location (e.g., Share drive) or collaboration site (e.g., MS Teams) when they are ready for review and/or sharing. For more information about how to identify official university records, please see Transitory, Official and Personal Records: A Guide for SFU Employees.

What to store in OneDrive What not to store in OneDrive
  • Individual research (e.g., published articles or other information for a future project)
  • Early drafts of documents not yet ready for review (e.g., working draft reports)
  • Documents meant to be accessed by a team (e.g., project revisions or planning documents).
  • Official records (e.g., finalized university records, such as policies and procedures)
  • Personal information (e.g., holiday photographs, personal finances)

Caution: Policy development for all M365 products, including OneDrive is ongoing; and access to OneDrive post-employment is not guaranteed.


Tips for organizing your OneDrive

  • Schedule a re-occurring time to review and clean up your OneDrive.
  • Ensure that you regularly transfer official university records from your OneDrive to your department’s recordkeeping system.
  • Follow a similar file naming convention in your OneDrive as used elsewhere by your department. For tips on file naming see Standard Naming Conventions for Electronic Records.
  • Keep your folder structure simple, ideally no more than two levels of nesting folders.
  • Use your department’s file classification plan to name folders according to a predefined taxonomy. For tips on creating a file classification plan see Model File Classification Plan for University Records.
  • Prior to leaving the university or transferring positions (e.g., moving from Department X to Department Y), transfer official university records to your department’s repository and save any personal information about you as an employee (e.g., your resume) or your individual research to your personal storage space outside of the SFU environment (e.g., your personal OneDrive, iCloud, etc.).


Tips for document sharing

All documents stored in OneDrive remain linked to their original owner. If you leave SFU and your account is deactivated, the original documents will be difficult to recover if they have not already been stored elsewhere, regardless of whether they have been shared or not.

You may share documents stored in OneDrive; however, be aware that anyone who is granted access to a document in OneDrive with editing privileges can share that file with others. If you anticipate a document needing to be accessed and/or shared by a large group of people, move it to an MS Teams site or other shared repository instead of keeping it in OneDrive.

Please note that extensive sharing through OneDrive will create a complicated network of permissions since unique permissions will be set for each individual document and/or folder that is shared.

Finally, be aware, that documents shared in private chat in MS Teams will be stored in your OneDrive account.

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Article ID: 4793
Wed 12/14/22 3:22 PM
Wed 11/22/23 8:51 AM

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