Background Retention

In addition to applying a retention policy (short-term retention and long-term retention) within a job session, Veeam Backup & Replication performs background retention for backups. The background retention aims mostly at backups that are no longer processed by jobs (orphaned backups shown in the node with the (Orphaned) postfix). However, this retention can also be helpful for standard backups, in case backups are created by jobs without schedule, the job retention has not been yet applied or failed for some reason and so on.

The background retention starts automatically every 24 hours at 00:30, runs in the background and consists of the following activities:

  • Background basic retention
  • Background GFS retention
  • Background log retention
  • Backup cleanup
  • Deleted Agent retention


The background retention does not apply to the following backups:


Consider the following:

  • Like the job retention, the background retention cannot delete immutable backup files. The background retention waits until the immutability and retention periods end for these files.
  • The background retention deletes only backups for which the retention period is set in days. If the retention period is set in restore points, the background retention process does not delete the backups. You need to delete them manually.
  • [For backups linked to jobs] If the retention is set in days, Veeam Backup & Replication leaves at least 3 backup files in a backup chain regardless of the set retention. If the retention is set in restore points, there is no limit on backup files left in a backup chain.
  • [For orphaned backups] When a backup becomes outdated, Veeam Backup & Replication removes this backup regardless of the number of backups in the backup chain. When all backups become outdated, Veeam Backup & Replication remove the whole backup chain.
  • Unlike the job retention, the background retention does not merge data from one backup file to another, it just deletes files. In case of forever forward incremental and forward incremental backup chains, the background retention deletes incremental files only after the last increment in the related part of the backup chain becomes outdated.
  • The background retention does not delete backup files if they are locked by other processes. The retention waits until the backup file is unlocked.
  • [For backups created with Veeam Agents operating in standalone or managed by Veeam Agent mode] For backups stored in an object storage repository operating in the direct connection mode, basic retention and GFS retention do not apply. For non-orphaned backups stored on other repositories, basic retention does not apply.
  • You can launch the background retention manually as described in Launching Background Retention.

Background Basic Retention

Background basic retention process analyzes the retention period set for backup files. In case of orphaned backups, Veeam Backup & Replication analyzes the retention period that was set in the job which created this backup. If the retention period has expired, Veeam Backup & Replication removes the backup files.

Background GFS Retention

Background GFS retention process detects backup files with GFS flags and analyzes their retention period. If the retention period for GFS flags of such backup files has expired, Veeam Backup & Replication removes GFS flags. Then Veeam Backup & Replication deletes these backup files according to the short-term retention policy, if the following conditions are met:

  • The backup file does not have any other GFS flags assigned.
  • The backup file does not have any dependent files.

Background retention job applies to backup files created with all the types of jobs that use GFS. For more information about GFS retention policy, see Long-Term Retention Policy (GFS).

Background Log Retention

Background log retention detects logs whose related image-level backup was deleted by background retention. Then Veeam Backup & Replication deletes these log files.

Backup Cleanup

Backup cleanup applies only to orphaned backups. After the whole orphaned backup chain is deleted, Veeam Backup & Replication also deletes the .VBM file and the folder where the backup chain was stored.

Deleted Agent Retention

Deleted agent retention is a process that detects and deletes outdated backup files according to Veeam Agent retention policy for outdated backups.

An outdated backup file is a backup file for which no new restore points were created and no new backup job sessions were started within the last N days, where N is the retention period specified in the Veeam Agent backup job settings.

For more information, see Retention Policy for Outdated Backups article in the Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows User Guide and Maintenance Settings article in the Veeam Agent Management Guide.

Cloud Connect Background Retention

In the Veeam Cloud Connect infrastructure, independent retention is applied to tenant backups on the service provider side. The background retention job runs automatically in Veeam Backup & Replication on the service provider backup server according to the same rules as in the regular Veeam backup infrastructure. The service provider can also launch background retention manually as described in Launching Background Retention.

On the tenant side, Veeam Cloud Connect repositories are skipped from processing by the background retention job launched automatically and manually. For more information, see the Background Retention for Tenant Backups section in the Veeam Cloud Connect Guide.