Canvas Data Retention Policy

Last updated: August 2, 2023
Audience: InstructorsStaff


Content created in the UW Canvas LMS is retained for five years after the end of the academic year (considered to be June) in which the course section was offered. Expiration dates for courses are viewable in the Canvas “all courses” page itself.  UW-IT recommends that instructors review expiring courses and archive any needed content. Expiring courses will be permanently deleted from the vendor’s servers within six months, and are not recoverable.

For example, a course offered in autumn quarter 2020 will expire in June of 2026, and be deleted by the end of 2026.

View course expiration dates:

  1. Sign in to UW Canvas LMS by visiting
  2. In the global navigation at left, click Courses.
  3. In the Courses fly-out menu, scroll down to the very bottom.
  4. Click All Courses. The column at the right displays the expiration date for courses in which you have a Teacher or Designer role.

The data retention policy is separate from the Canvas Access Policy, which specifies which accounts can sign in to Canvas and Panopto, and when separating individuals lose access.

In preparation for the initial implementation of the Canvas data retention policy, UW instructors whose courses are scheduled for deletion in December 2023 were informed in March 2023, with additional reminders sent in May, August, October and December. View a version of the announcement.

The data retention policy was created with guidance from the Office of the University Registrar, the Faculty Council on Teaching and Learning, Records Management, and in alignment with pre-existing retention policies for course materials and education records.

Author (Teachers & Course Designers)
Course content (files, html, video, quizzes), student grades, communications with students, profile information
Participant (Students or Guests)
Quiz responses, discussion posts, uploaded files, profile information (e.g. avatars, email addresses)

When an item is manually deleted it will no longer be visible to any user, but remains on Canvas servers until automatic deletion rules apply.

A course and all of its content and associated data will be flagged for deletion five years after the end of the academic year (June of each year). These flagged items will be deleted from the vendors servers within six months.

Any courses that have not been manually deleted by an author will remain until automatic deletion rules apply.

Items that participants (students) have contributed to a course, such as discussion posts and uploaded files, will be deleted when the course is deleted.

A user’s profile data will be deleted after the following conditions are met:
* User is no longer associated with any courses in the UW Canvas LMS
* User is no longer an active faculty, student, or staff