The complete guide to archiving Jira issues [2020]

Think about archiving options in Jira, before it eats into your team's productivity

The need for Jira issue archiving (and workarounds in lieu of native features) continues to be a frequent topic among Jira users. Questions and comments are popping up week by week in the Atlassian Community or in public Jira projects, followed by long discussions.

The TL,DR is that only Jira Data Center (from 7.10) and the Jira Cloud Premium edition can archive Jira issues and projects natively. While those have advantages, other options might work better for long-term Jira project archiving, archiving "Done" issues for future reference or for audit requests.

It's also worth noting that Jira Server is not getting much love anymore in terms of archiving issues. If you use Server, you will need to use a custom solution from the below list.

Archiving Jira issues

Issue archiving can be categorized into two major groups, no matter if you are on Data Center, Server or Cloud:

  • you can either keep your "archived" (or somehow made invisible) issues in the same Jira instance
  • or move it elsewhere.

Across these two categories, you can archive Jira issues the following ways:

  1. Using native archiving features where available
  2. Exporting and storing issues outside of Jira
  3. Using restrictive issue permissions
  4. Moving issues into another Jira instance

Atlassian made progress in improving Jira archiving and added Jira project archiving to Cloud Premium after making it available on Data Center. Below we highlight the most reliable alternatives for Jira ticket archiving in case of Jira Cloud, Server and Data Center.

Options for issue archiving

1. Native project archiving

Jira Cloud (Premium only) ✅

Data Center ✅

Server ✖

Native project archiving is available for Jira Data Center and for Jira Cloud as a premium feature.

It was originally requested by the largest Jira customers, and for a reason. According to Atlassian’s research, the largest Jira instances have 1200 projects on average and 1.4 million Jira issues per instance. These large customers have 900 custom fields and use 400 workflows on average. So it’s no surprise that these hyper-customized Jira instances need some easy and effective way of improving performance.

Atlassian strives to improve the Jira Cloud offering and make it attractive for mid to large size teams as well. To this end, they introduced issue archiving for Jira Cloud Premium, offering capabilities to archive "Done" Jira issues on demand.

The archiving option allows users to move whole Jira projects or single issues into an "Archived" status. This removes the issues from the Jira index without wiping them from the database.

Advantages
  • Project archiving improves overall Jira performance, declutters the Jira interface and speeds up project-dependent processes.
  • It makes restoring archived Jira projects easy, as they never leave the instance.
  • You can archive a single issue or multiple issues.
  • Jira project archiving improves user experience.
Disadvantages
  • While it boosts performance, it doesn’t help free up resources. It uses up storage, as it only hides the archived projects from JQL, lists, menus and indexing, but keeps storing them on the server. If storage needs to be strictly managed, it could turn out a sub-optimal solution.
  • Keeping your archived issues and projects in Jira undermines portability and access for users without a Jira account.
  • Project archiving is available for Data Center and Jira Cloud Premium only.

2. Store issues in a Document Management System

Jira Cloud ✅

Data Center ✅

Server ✅

You can export Jira issues into a static, human readable format like HTML or PDF. Depending on the output format, you can keep issue metadata like issue attachments, issue links, comments, change history and export issues without risking data loss.

An exporter app like Better PDF Exporter can export Jira issues to PDF documents with custom layout and scope of custom fields. To create a self-containing issue archive, opt to include comments, embedded attachments, change history, issue links, formatted text, and any other issue attributes. Then use a Document Management System to store, categorize and index your archived issues. This approach offers data retention, easy searching and browsing capabilities.

It proved successful for a government organization before, and would work in many use cases for Jira issue archiving.

Advantages
  • By exporting you can archive even a single issue or any group of issues. For example, you can use the Jira Issue Navigator and archive all "Done" issues and "Won't do" issues. You can even set up an automation rule to run a certain JQL periodically and archive the resulted issues. It allows for a more dynamic archiving workflow.
  • All issue information stays on the PDF, including issue summary, description, comments, attachment file names, etc, so it makes a perfectly searchable database of archived issues.
  • Documents stored in a Document Management System are read-only and tamper-proof, but external users can still access them for audit or other inspection purposes.
  • Exporting issues and moving them improves Jira performance as those are removed from Jira indexing and search while also frees up valuable resources on the server.
  • Archiving Jira issues improves user experience.
Disadvantages
  • Restoring issues from PDF won’t be possible, at least not for a lot of issues in bulk. You can still "restore" issues manually or write some program that parses issue data from the document and re-creates the issue via the Jira REST API.
  • Issue links, pointing to the archived issues, will be broken.
  • It involves managing a separate Document Management System (if you are not already running one).

3. Using restrictive permissions schemes

Jira Cloud ✅

Data Center ✅

Server ✅

This option works on Jira Cloud and Data Center as well, but it's mostly useful for Jira Server as it lacks native archiving features. The most commonly used workaround for achieving something like an archived Jira project is setting up a dedicated permission scheme. This permission configuration would only allow read-only access or not even that for users, practically making projects invisible.

Advantages
  • This technique hides the project (and its issues) from users, so declutters the Jira interface.
  • Reactivating hidden Jira projects is easy.
Disadvantages
  • Issues hidden with a permission will still be indexed, therefore Jira performance will not improve.
  • Hidden issues and attachments will continue consuming resources like disk space on the server.
  • Managing and applying the proper schemes every time a project needs to be archived means an administrative burden.

4. Moving issues to another Jira instance

Jira Cloud ✅

Data Center ✅

Server ✅

Setting up another Jira instance and making that the "Archive Jira" is another frequently used workaround. There are also a few Jira apps that help you sync, move or share your projects and configurations between the Production and the Archive Jira.

Advantages
  • Moving old issues elsewhere offloads the traffic from the production instance, improving its performance.
  • Issues and attachments are cleaned from the production instance, freeing up resources.
  • Issues stay easily accessible and searchable, with the on-demand option for restoring.
Disadvantages
  • If you move projects by creating backups, those can only be restored to the same Jira version.
  • Setting up and administering an additional Jira instance just adds to the admin tasks already piled up.

Conclusion

As you can see, there isn't a single perfect option for Jira project and issue archiving today. Learn about your options and match them with your organization's needs! This way you make an informed and responsible decision on how to preserve Jira projects for the future.

Archive your Jira issues!

 

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