Records Management in SharePoint Online – Record Revisions

Vivek Bhatt


Updated: May 6, 2020

Microsoft’s records management in SharePoint Online has significantly matured in recent years to meet the records management requirements and record revisions of most regulations and scalable to complexities of large enterprises.


A key feature of records management in SharePoint online is the ability to Label a file and;

  • Apply retention rules to manage its lifecycle, and;

  • Protect a record from changes by making it immutable

In a traditional records management setup where a separate application is used for archiving copies of files from SharePoint, this will not be an issue. However, with customers embracing ‘in-place’ records management in SharePoint online, a number of practical business scenarios require ability to create new revisions from a file labelled as record in SharePoint online.


Some common business scenarios which require periodic review of records include:

  • Managing Health and safety critical guidelines

  • Engineering Projects related drawings and designs

  • Company Asset related documentation

  • Financial guidelines

With the introduction of Microsoft records management in SharePoint online, this requirement is addressed by a little known feature called ‘Advanced Versioning’. Once activated, this feature provides the ability to create new editable versions from an existing record in SharePoint online.


This simplifies user interaction with records, and has following benefits:

  • Multiple records can be created / linked to a single document

  • Records declared from earlier versions remain immutable, and retention integrity is maintained as new revisions are created

  • Original hyperlinks to the main document remains unchanged and always link to the latest version of the document

  • A single document providing access to all document versions and record revisions removing duplication

The system workflow for managing revisions of file with a record label is as follows:

System workflow for managing SharePoint versions as records

Records management in SharePoint online


When the file is locked, the latest version of the document is a record. When the file is unlocked, a reference to this version (preserved as record) is added to the version history. You can check which version is a record by looking for ‘Record’ in the ‘Comments’. Subsequent edits to the document, when it is unlocked, creates versions which are not declared as record. To declare the latest version, you will need to lock the file, which will declare latest version as record in SharePoint online.


Any document which has multiple record versions will only be disposed after all the records versions are disposed as per the retention period.


Some other best practices on ‘Advanced versioning’ for records management in SharePoint online:

  • A label can be selected only for the first version to be declared for records management in SharePoint online. Subsequent versions, will use the label applied to the first version.

  • If Label is configured for automated disposition, each record version would be disposed independently as it approaches its end of retention

  • It is not advised to create a record revision for document metadata changes, this can be done without creating a new record revision

  • Records management in SharePoint online does not support Moving files with multiple record versions to a different site collections. Such files can be moved within a site to a different library though

  • Microsoft advanced audit logs capture specific events for each instance a new version is declared as record. These are accessible through ‘Content Search’ for advanced reporting and tracking adoption of this feature



In summary ‘Advanced versioning’ is a great tool which enables a seamless integration of records manageemnt principles with business productivity and need for continuous collaboration. If you want to learn more about modernizing your records management for the digital era, then check out this previous blog post.

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