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. From the Administrator Panel in the Courses section, select Courses.
  2. Select Backup ActionsArchive Course.
  3. In the Source Course ID, field, enter a course ID or browse to search for a course. 
  4. Select Include the Grade Center History to also include the grade center in the archive. Selecting this option increases file size and processing time.
  5. Under File Attachments, 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 each day. The server creates these course archives automatically at 2 AM system time. Courses without activity aren't archived. Archives created automatically are deleted after 30 days. It is recommended administrators create and copy archives to external storage for long-term retrieval needs.

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.

If a course is deleted, the process still creates and retains an archive. Administrators should move these archives to another location for long-term storage. Once copied elsewhere, administrators should delete these older archives.

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. For Files Outside of the Course Default Directory,choose 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 outside of the course default directory

Find course archives in the Content Collection

You can find and download copies of archived courses in the Blackboard Learn user interface. Go to Administration Panel > Content Management. Select Manage Content. Open the internal folder and then open autoArchive. Select the course folder from the list.

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 and then deleted. 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 the 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 to a non-production environment. This helps to ensure no disruption to current courses/users in production.

Bulk download automatic course archives

You can download several automatic course archives using the provided script. With this script, you can select the specific courses you need or, download the archives for all courses created in a specified date range.

The instructions and the script itself can be found in Learn. From the Administrator Panel, under Courses, select Course Settings. Under Automatic Archive Settings, you'll find the instructions to download and run the script.