When you archive a course, the system creates a ZIP file of the course content, user interactions, and submission receipts called an archive package. You can restore archive packages, but they aren't intended for teaching the course again as all user interactions are restored as well. Store archive packages in a secure location.

Don't unzip or extract a course or archive package. Don't remove files from the package or try to import a file contained within the package. You can only import or restore the course if the package is intact. Editing the ZIP file and then importing or restoring the package results in unstable and unpredictable behavior in the course.

Most archive packages have this file naming structure:


Final archive packages created when a course is deleted have this file naming structure:


User created export and archive packages will expire and auto-delete 30 days after the creation date. Users will be notified of the expiration when they create, download, and in the course package list view for the course.

Blackboard Learn packages courses using the IMS Content Packaging Specification, with extensions to support content types that are specific to Blackboard Learn.

  1. On the Administrator Panel in the Courses section, select Courses.
  2. Point to Backup Actions and select Archive Course.
  3. In the Source Course ID box, type a valid course ID. If you don't know the exact course ID, select Browse to search for the course.
  4. To Include the Grade Center History, select the check box following the course ID. Selecting this option increases file size and processing time.
  5. In the File Attachments section, choose whether to include only the links to course files or to include the links and copies of the course files content.

    If you select Copy links and include copies of the content, select Calculate Size to ensure that the package size doesn't exceed the displayed Allowed package size. To remove files and folders from the package, select Manage Package Contents.

  6. Select Submit. Blackboard Learn creates the archive package and sends an email to your Blackboard Learn account. This email contains a link to the log file contents of the package and confirms that the archive package is ready.
  7. Go to your Blackboard Learn email account and verify that you've received the confirmation email.
  8. On the Administrator Panel in the Courses section, select Courses.
  9. Search for the course you archived.
  10. Open the course's menu and select Export/Archive. The Export/Archive page lists all export or archive packages for this course that haven't been deleted from Blackboard Learn, even if you've already downloaded the package. The file names include the date and time the package was created.
  11. Open a ZIP file's menu and select Open.
  12. In the Opening File window, select Save File and select OK to download the archive package to your computer.
  13. Optionally, you can permanently delete the package from Blackboard Learn. Access the ZIP file's menu and select Delete.

SafeAssign assignments aren't included in the archive and can't be restored.

More on SafeAssign

Archive a cross-listed course

The method for archiving cross-listed courses is to archive the parent course. Only parent courses have content, and archiving the parent course includes the child courses. You don't need to archive a child course as it only contains enrollments.

Automatic course archives

Blackboard Learn automatically backs up all courses with activity within the last 7 days. The server creates these course archives automatically at 2 AM system time. To prevent duplication, courses without activity since the last backup aren't archived. To save space, each backup is incremental, and may appear much smaller than a manually-created archive. Consult the insight report to determine how much disk space is used by auto-archives.

Blackboard Learn also automatically creates a final, complete archive package when a course is deleted. Once a course is archived and deleted, Learn will automatically purge course resources. The resources won't be in the recycle bin so that disk space isn’t used by a deleted course.

Learn more about course deletion

An automatic archive can be restored to any Blackboard Learn environment, not just the one where it was created.

Archive retention settings

You can configure archive settings on the Administrator Panel.

  1. Select Course Settings > Automatic Archive Settings.
  2. In the Max Archive Age Days field, choose how long to retain automatic archives. The value should be between 30 and 36,500. The default setting is 3650 days, or 10 years. When an archive file exceeds the number of days you've chosen here, the file is deleted automatically.
  3. Choose a setting for how to handle Files Outside of the Course Default Directory. Your selection determines how the system copies or links to files used in a course.
    • Copy only links to files stored outside of the course default directory
    • Copy links and include copies of the files out side of the course default directory

The recommended maximum archive age varies for each institution. We suggest that clients consider their data storage and capacity policies when determining the maximum age for archives. Blackboard Learn archives each course on the system, so you may notice an uptick in storage use and costs.

To conserve storage resources and lower costs, by default cloned environments won’t retain automatic or permanent archives older than the value of Max Archive Age Days. You can change this default setting by following the above instructions in the cloned environment.

Find course archives in the Content Collection

You can find and download copies of archived courses in the Blackboard Learn user interface. In the Content Management menu on the Admin Panel, select Manage Content. Select internal > autoArchive. Course archives are stored in folders. Locate the course in the list and select a folder to see the available archives.

Archives are converted to full and portable archives when you download so the file size may be larger than you expect.

More on how to restore a course from automatic archives

Access automatic archive packages from within courses

In SaaS, daily archives are auto created for active courses. Administrators can retrieve lost data from these archives. These archives are available for 30 days. Privileged users can access and download archive packages from the course. The daily archives often lessen the need for other users to create their own packages. This change in access reduces storage space used. The access change saves time and reduces frustration for privileged users and administrators.

  • This permission is not on by default for instructors. Required permission: Course/Organization Control Panel (Packages and Utilities) > Archive Course/Organization, including user passwords
  • Automatic archive packages include highly sensitive personal information for users. If you use the default authentication type in Learn, the package includes an encrypted version of users' passwords. When this is the case, we recommend that you do not enable this feature for instructors.
  • The password values in the Learn database pose no security risk if you use an identity provider (IdP) for authentication (e.g., SAML/LDAP) without fallback to the default Learn authentication.
  • We recommend that you review policies about storing and handling sensitive personal data. These archives contain highly sensitive data. Please ensure it is appropriate to grant users privileges to access these archives.
  • There are no changes to the restore process with this enhancement. Only administrators can retrieve user data through a restore process. We always recommend restoring courses into a non-production environment. This helps to ensure no disruption to current courses/users in production.

Bulk download automatic course archives

It is possible to download several automatic course archives using the bulk archive download script. With this script you can select the specific courses you need or, download the archives for all courses created within a specified date range.

The instructions and the script itself can be found in Learn. Select the System Admin tab and under the Courses section select Course Settings > Automatic Archive Settings. In that section you'll find the instructions to download and run the script.