How to Never Lose Important Messages on Slack

Foolproof Ways to Safeguard Important Messages on Slack! Discover strategies to ensure critical messages are never lost. From pinning key discussions to leveraging archiving features, learn how to safeguard vital information effectively.

How to Never Lose Important Messages on Slack
Photo by Stephen Phillips - / Unsplash

Imagine the relief of not frantically scrolling through endless channels in search of a crucial message. Our guide is here to be your savior, providing practical strategies to safeguard and effortlessly access important Slack messages. 

missing messages on slack meme

You can enjoy reduced stress, enhanced communication, and regained control over your digital workspace. 

Wondering how to achieve this? Our guide has all the answers on Slack retention policy.

Slack Retention Policy

A retention policy, also known as a 'schedule,' plays a crucial role in managing the lifespan of a record. It outlines how long a business should keep a piece of information (a record), its storage location, and the disposing process when the time comes.

 Image showing how slack retention policy works


By default, Slack ensures that all messages and files, including audio and video clips, are retained for the entire lifespan of your workspace. However, if you prefer, you can customize your retention settings, allowing you to delete messages (slack messages disappear) and files after a specified period automatically.

Importance of maintaining messages on Slack

Crafting messages on Slack is a familiar experience, similar to other messaging tools. Whether you're engaging in one-on-one conversations or communicating in small groups, here's a guide on creating messages that boost productivity for your entire team.

Format Messages for Quick Readability

Slack accommodates messages of any size, making it versatile for short and longer updates. Utilize formatting options such as bold text, emojis, and bullets to enhance the clarity of longer messages.

Project Updates

The key is using formatting options to ensure your message is clear and easily digestible. Here are some commonly used text shortcuts for quick formatting:

@Mention Key Team Members

For essential messages directed at specific individuals in a channel, use the @mention feature by typing '@' followed by their username. This triggers a notification for the mentioned person, ensuring they see the message promptly and likely respond faster.

@Mention Etiquette

Reserve @mentions for situations where a response or involvement from a specific person is essential. Avoid excessive notifications to maintain good etiquette.

Image showing slack etiquette


Edit Sent Messages Instantly

Typos are no cause for concern on Slack. Easily edit any message using the "up" arrow on your computer or selecting "edit message" from the message menu. On mobile, perform a long press to access the edit option.

Delete Sent Messages Thoughtfully

Delete messages sparingly using the message menu. Consider instances like self-answering a question or when a request becomes unnecessary. Admins, though rarely, can modify or restrict editing and deleting functions for users.

How to prevent losing your Slack Message History?

Image showing how Slack edit history works


To safeguard your Slack message history, follow these simple steps:

  • Click on your workspace name in the sidebar from your desktop.
  • Choose Tools & settings from the menu and click on Workspace settings.
  • Locate Message history and click Expand.
  • From the drop-down menu, choose your preferred retention settings.
  • Save your changes by clicking on Save.
  • Confirm the difference by checking the box and then click Apply new setting.

Adjusting Slack Retention Policy

Free Subscription

Workspace owners have options to customize message retention for conversations:

Keep all messages, but don't track revisions:

Slack retains all messages without tracking edits or deletions.

Delete messages after 90 days:

Messages get automatically deleted after 90 days.

Note: Basic data retention settings for free subscriptions delete hidden messages and files.

To adjust your settings, follow these steps from your desktop:

  • Click your workspace name in the sidebar.
  • Choose Tools & settings, then click Workspace Settings.
  • Expand Message history.
  • Select your preferred retention settings from the drop-down menu.
  • Save your changes by clicking Save.
  • Confirm the change by ticking the box, then click Apply new setting.

Pro and Business Subscriptions

Workspace owners have flexibility in setting message retention with the following options:

Keep everything:

Slack retains all messages and tracks edits and deletions.

Keep all messages but don't track revisions:

Slack keeps all messages without tracking edits or deletions.

Delete messages and their revisions after...:

Customize the timeframe, and Slack will delete messages accordingly.

Note: Business+ subscriptions allow tailored settings to delete channel messages while keeping them accessible in exports, subject to data export approval.

To adjust these settings from your desktop:

  • Click your workspace name in the sidebar.
  • Choose Tools & settings, then click Workspace Settings.
  • Expand Message history.
  • Select your preferred retention settings from the drop-down menu.
  • Save changes by clicking Save.
  • Confirm the change by ticking the box, then click Apply new setting.

Enterprise Grid Subscription

As an organization owner, you can establish a message retention policy that uniformly applies to every workspace. This ensures consistency, and workspace owners won't have the option to tweak retention settings individually. Org owners can also set a policy to hide messages before permanent deletion by message retention. Here are the options for setting message retention:

Keep everything

Retain all messages with tracking of edits and deletions.

Keep all messages but don't track revisions

Retain all messages without tracking edits or deletions.

Delete messages and their revisions after...:

Customize the timeframe for message deletion.

Note: For organizations with data export approval, messages can be deleted from channels and DMs but kept accessible in JSON-based exports.

Setting Org-Level Message Retention Policies:

To establish an org policy, contact our support team. Slackbot will seek approval from the primary org owner and, once approved, notify each workspace owner of the retention setting changes.

Reviewing Org-Level Message Retention Policies:

  • Click your workspace name.
  • Choose Tools & settings, then Organization Settings.
  • Click Settings and select History.

Setting Workspace-Level Message Retention:

Note: Workspace owners can't adjust retention settings if an org-level policy is in place.

  • Click your workspace name.
  • Choose Tools & settings, then Workspace Settings (select the workspace if managing multiple).
  • Expand Message history.
  • Select your preferred retention settings.
  • Save changes and confirm by ticking the box, then click Apply new setting."

Recovering Deleted/Lost Slack Messages

Unlike some platforms, Slack doesn't offer a dedicated "deleted" folder or recycle bin. Once messages or threads are deleted, they might be gone for good. However, organizations have a couple of avenues for recovering deleted Slack content:

Automatic Export via Slack API (Requires Slack Enterprise Grid):

  • Utilize the Slack API for automatic exports.
  • This feature is available with a Slack Enterprise Grid subscription.
  • Contact Slack to enable this function in the API.

Manual or Scheduled Export with Built-in Tool (Business Tier and Above):

  • Use Slack’s built-in import/export tool for manual or scheduled exports.
  • Automatic exports are available for Business tier subscriptions and above.
  • Exports are in JSON format and can be downloaded to local devices or cloud storage.
  • Import these files back into Slack to recover deleted messages from the export date.

While Slack may not have a recycle bin, these options provide a practical approach to recovering deleted messages and maintaining data integrity.

Also, organizations can implement measures to safeguard historical Slack messages from accidental loss, whether due to employee actions or Slack message retention policies. Here are practical best practices tailored to different Slack tiers:

Free Workspaces:

Set reminders for administrators to regularly export Slack data, with frequencies like daily or weekly. Ensure a proactive approach to data preservation without relying solely on automated tools.

Utilize Slack’s built-in import/export tool for scheduled data exports. Admins should closely monitor the export process, especially for large data batches, and address any technical interruptions promptly.

User Deletion Controls

Restrict users' ability to delete messages to maintain a comprehensive message history.

Enterprise Tier

Establish integrations between Slack and third-party data storage or eDiscovery platforms. Automate the backup of Slack data to an external location, providing an additional layer of protection beyond Slack's native environment.

Exporting Slack Message History

To ensure you never lose access to your valuable data, it's crucial to export your Slack message history promptly. Follow these simple steps:

  • Log into Slack and navigate to your workspace menu at the top left.
  • Select 'Settings & Administration' and then click 'Workplace Settings.'
  • At the top right, click the 'Import/Export Data' button.
  • In the new window, choose the 'Export' tab.
  • Click the 'Export' button to initiate the process.

Your message data will be compressed into a zip file, ready for import to a new platform or safekeeping as a record.

For ongoing data protection, remember to repeat these steps every 90 days, ensuring a consistent archive of your important messages.

Best Practices to Retain Your Important Messages on Slack

Here are practical ways to retain and access important messages on Slack:

  • Pinned Items: Save messages by pinning them to a list in the channel for easy reference.
  • Starred Messages: Mark messages as starred for quick access later on.
  • Saved Messages: Bookmark messages for yourself by using the 'Saved items' feature on the sidebar.
  • Reminders: Set reminders for messages that require more time for a thoughtful response.
  • Mark as Unread: Flag messages are unread, especially when reading Slack before a meeting.
  • Star Channels and Conversations: Prioritize by starring important channels and conversations, keeping them at the top of your sidebar.

Virtual Assistance: For Retaining Your Messages 

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Enable message archiving

Activate the message archiving feature in Slack settings to create a comprehensive record of all communications. This ensures that important messages are stored and easily accessible when needed, even after a prolonged period.

Encourage starring

Motivate users to star important messages. Starring is a simple yet effective way for individuals to bookmark and quickly reference critical information, preventing it from getting buried in the conversation history.

Automate retention policies

Set up automatic message retention policies to streamline keeping relevant messages accessible. Automation ensures that important communications are retained without manual intervention, reducing the risk of oversight.

Educate users on effective search techniques within Slack. Using Slack's search functionalities helps users locate specific messages efficiently, saving time and ensuring that valuable information is readily retrievable.

Regular backups

Implement regular backups for meaningful Slack conversations. Regular backups are a safety net, providing a secondary copy of crucial information. This practice minimizes the risk of data loss due to unforeseen circumstances.

Pinned messages

Utilize pinned messages for storing and highlighting critical information within channels. Pinned messages are a dedicated space for crucial updates or reference materials, ensuring they remain prominently visible.

Channel-specific guidelines

Establish guidelines for communication within channels. Channel-specific procedures ensure consistency in communication practices, making it easier for team members to understand how to share and preserve important information.

Advise against deletions

Counsel users to avoid deleting critical messages. Encouraging responsible communication habits helps maintain a complete record of conversations, preventing the accidental loss of valuable information.

Set reminders for backups

Prompt users to set reminders for periodic data backups. Reminders ensure that the backup process becomes routine, reducing the likelihood of overlooking this essential aspect of data management.

External message storage

Enable integrations for external message storage. Integrating with external storage solutions provides an additional layer of security and accessibility, allowing users to retrieve messages even if there are issues within the Slack platform.

Update retention settings

Periodically check and update retention settings. Adapting retention settings to evolving communication needs ensures that the platform aligns with the organization's changing requirements for data preservation.

Educate on message history 

Communicate the importance of preserving message history. Understanding the value of message history encourages users to approach communication with a continuity mindset, emphasizing the long-term significance of their interactions.

Efficiency training

Conduct training sessions on using Slack efficiently. Training sessions empower users to make the most of Slack's features, ensuring they are proficient in navigating and managing messages effectively.

Monitor deletions

Regularly monitor for unexpected message deletions. Proactive monitoring helps identify and address issues promptly, preventing accidental data loss and maintaining the integrity of the communication history.

Prompt reporting

Encourage team members to report any message losses promptly. Establishing a reporting mechanism ensures that potential issues are identified swiftly, allowing immediate action to recover or address the loss.

External backup tools

Utilize external backup tools for added security. Implementing third-party backup tools provides an extra layer of protection, offering redundancy in data storage and enhancing overall resilience.

Policy review

Periodically review and update Slack data retention policies. Regular reviews ensure that data retention policies remain aligned with organizational goals and industry best practices, accommodating any changes in communication requirements.

Critical deletion alerts

Set up alerts for critical message deletions. Alerts provide real-time notification of potential data loss events, enabling quick responses to mitigate risks and recover essential information.

Cultivate mindful communication

Foster a culture of mindful and organized communication. Instilling a sense of responsibility among team members encourages them to approach messaging carefully, contributing to an environment where important information is intentionally preserved.

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Adopting the outlined strategies ensures a seamless and worry-free experience in retaining essential messages on Slack. 

Grip yourself to implement these techniques for an organized and stress-free workspace. Wishup stands ready to assist you on this journey, offering valuable support in maintaining a well-organized Slack environment. 

Feel free to reach out for a free consultation or contact us at [email protected] for tailored assistance.

FAQs: Slack Retention Policy

How long is the retention period for Slack?

Slack retains all messages without tracking edits or deletions but automatically deletes them after 90 days.

Does Slack delete messages after 90 days?

Yes, for free workspaces, Slack automatically removes messages after 90 days. Workspace owners can choose basic data retention editing, either keeping or deleting messages and files after this period. Choosing deletion after 90 days also covers any hidden message and file limit.

How do I see messages older than 90 days in Slack?

Upgrading the entire workspace is required to view messages older than 90 days, costing around $8 per active member. Individual member upgrades are not possible; the entire workspace must be upgraded, and all members will be notified.