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Google Vault is now open (and free) to Google Apps for Education customers!

The day has finally come! Last autumn, Google announced that they’d be opening up their Vault add-on for free to Google Apps for Education customers, and in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, educators began noticing that their access to Vault was flipped on!

Usually this service would cost $10 per user, but since Google has offered it for free to the Apps for EDU audience, you ought to get the most out of this add-on. To keep pace with the release, we wanted to give you some Google Vault pointers, to go over what the app is all about and how schools should be using it!

What is Google Vault?

As the name might make you think, Vault is something like Google Drive—but instead of cataloguing your files (like Docs and Sheets) Vault can store, search, or export your organization’s email.

Mostly for legal purposes, Vault is meant to help organizations like schools freely manage their email systems while still complying with record keeping laws. Vault users get tools for things such as:

Using these resources, you can create “matters.” In Vault, a matter is a container for all of the data related to a specific topic, such as a litigation case or investigation. You can also create a permanent search, so anytime you want to come back to Vault, you can conduct the same one again, and it’ll turn up anything new that applies to that same search.

How are educators using Vault?

The main reason schools are using apps like Vault in the first place is because they legally have to! Other services, like Postini, serve the same purpose, but are known for being less user-friendly in the past. Vault is intended as a more intuitive way to keep records in your district’s email and Google Apps domains. So basically, Vault is just an easier way to check off that box for legal compliance.

It obviously goes farther than that, though—in situations like bullying or other threats that come into contact with the school’s network. Vault doesn’t proactively find threats like that, like Securly is trying to do with their new app, but all that information is collected, and if an investigation into student’s messages would ever become necessary, Vault’s search system provides a deep, reliable window into that information.

On top of that, Google Vault lets you use the same search operators that you can use in Gmail, as well as being able to search phrases within currently existing Google Docs. Although it doesn’t archive docs themselves (that’s what Google Drive is for), this searchability is something that sets Vault apart from other similar services.

So if you’re working with Google Apps for Education, get in touch with whoever controls your management console, and check it out! And be sure to set up retention policies for the archiving to begin.

If you aren’t working with Apps for Education yet, or you’re interested in using Vault in your organization, you know who to call!

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