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You really CAN teach an old SAP Archiving dog new tricks

*Disclaimer – the following information is in theory only.  It should only be used as a guideline.

A while back, I was asked to document the business process for destroying archived SAP data that has met its retention time and has been approved for destruction.  I have been working with SAP Archiving for the past eleven years but have never had to do this process before.  I have theorized about it, but had never researched the exact steps that need to occur and in what order.   

I was very fortunate to have participated in the ASUG ILM (Information Lifecycle Management) Influence Council where the theory of managing data from creation to destruction was discussed in great lengths.  The process to destroy archived SAP data is a very manual process.  With input from the ASUG ILM Influence Council, SAP developed a new solution to handle retention management and legal holds.  In the process of developing this new solution, SAP also developed a retention warehouse that can be used for system decommissioning.  This new solution is called SAP NetWeaver Information Lifecycle Management (SAP NetWeaver ILM).

But, without SAP’s ILM solution, the process of destroying archived SAP data contains multiple steps that need to be followed in a particular sequence.  SAP provides a manual named Final Deletion of SAP Business Data which can be found out on .  Then, Data Archiving -> Media Library -> Literature & Brochures -> Final Deletion of SAP Business Data.

Upon reading this manual, I determined the proper sequence (at a very high level) that can be used to delete archived SAP data from your ERP system that has met its retention time and has followed your company’s business process for the necessary approvals for destruction is:


  1. Search for the relevant data archive files via report RSARCH_LIST_STORED (export list).
  2. Search for the relevant image document id’s via OAAD (export list).
  3. Search and delete any “retrieved” archive files via report RSARCH_LIST_RETRIEVED ( from within this report you can delete the retrieved files at the OS level).
  4. Check for application-specific archive indexes such as MKPF_ARIDX and ARIX_BKPF.  If relevant indexes exist and are eligible for destruction, from within the Archive Administration, go to Index-> Delete Index.  Application-specific indexes should be deleted BEFORE the ADK files.  It may not be possible to delete infostructures after the archive files have been deleted because the deletion requires information from the archive files.
  5. Delete relevant Archive Information Structures via transaction SARI.
  6. Delete relevant document data via OAAD.
  7. Send list of document id’s from steps 1 and 2 to be deleted on the external storage server and have the storage administrator delete those files according to process relevant for the particular 3rd party storage system (step 7 must be completed prior to starting steps 8 and 9).
  8. Archive/delete the relevant Archive Management Data via archive object BC_ARCHIVE.
  9. Archive/delete the relevant Link Data via archive object ARCHIVELNK.


If you have DART files, they need to be included as well as any Views that have been created.

Also, this process only covers data and images that have been archived.  There still may be old data remaining in the database that may need to be accounted for.

Note, that this process does not have a way to handle legal holds.  If there are any records within an archive file that need to be retained for legal reasons, you must keep the whole archive file/run.   There is no SAP standard functionality that can handle archive file “splitting”.  There may be 3rd party solutions for this, but I am not familiar with them.  Beginning with SAP NetWeaver 2004, there is now the ability to archive data from one archive object to multiple content repositories via Archive Routing.  But, you cannot use this functionality for previously created archive files.

If you have archived SAP data and images that have met their retention requirements, do not have any legal holds and can be destroyed, I hope this information is useful.

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