[Best Practices Guide] How to Delete a SharePoint Site

[Best Practices Guide] How to Delete a SharePoint Site

Are you looking for a proper way to delete a SharePoint site?

The truth is, the process of deleting a site is straightforward. However, you need to make sure of some things before doing it to avoid problems in the future.

In this article, I will show you the correct way of deleting a SharePoint site and ensure you wouldn’t have to explain anything to your colleagues.

Let’s get started.

Check for site usage first

Yes, the site won’t literally be deleted right after you press a button. However, things happen, which is why you must make sure of your decision to delete the site.

If so, check first if the site has been used lately. It’s a good idea to talk with your team or colleagues and ask them about the site.

It’s also a good idea to check the site usage report.

While on the site, click on the gear icon and go to “Site contents”.

Click on the gear icon first and select the site contents option

Once there, click on the “Site usage” button on the command bar.

Click on the site usage button on the command bar

On the site usage analytics page, you can check whether or not the site is still being actively used by your colleagues (unique viewers).

For example, on the site below, you will see that it only has one user (which makes it pretty safe to delete since I’m the only one using it for the past 30 days).

Only one unique viewer on the site to be deleted

Note that for team sites with Microsoft 365 groups, the site usage analytics may not show activities on Outlook, Teams, and Planner.

Since the site usage analytics only tracks the usage on the site itself, you may not know whether or not the team uses the other apps.

In this case, it’s important that you ask the group owner or the members if they’re still using the apps and if you can delete the site.

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    Check for any subsites

    Don’t commit the mistake of deleting a site that has subsites being used by others.

    To avoid this problem, check for any subsites first. Go back to the “Site contents” page and this time, navigate to the “Subsites” page.

    In the site contents page, go to the subsites tab

    You will see all the subsites on the site on this page.

    Even if you can restore the site, the process might take some time if there are lots of data in it (not counting the fact you might be disrupting some work going on).

    In the past, you needed to visit the “Site hierarchy” page from the “Site Settings” page. But that’s not necessary anymore because of the “Subsites” tab.

    How to delete a site in SharePoint

    After making sure that no one is using the site anymore (if team site, then including other apps) and its subsites, then you can safely delete it from SharePoint.

    Now, the steps to deleting any site in SharePoint are more or less similar, though there are some minor differences.

    Let’s start with deleting a classic site:

    Deleting a classic SharePoint site

    To get started, click on the gear icon first and go to “Site settings”.

    Click on the gear icon and then on the site settings option

    On the next page, check the “Site Actions” section and click “Delete this site”.

    Click on the delete this site option under site actions

    On the next page, you will read some warnings about the action. To proceed, click on the “Delete” button in the lower-right corner.

    Click on the delete button to proceed

    Deleting a modern team or communication site in SharePoint

    For modern sites, the process is more straightforward.

    Click on the gear icon and then on the “Site information” option.

    Click on the gear icon and select site information

    On the right panel, click on the “Delete site” button near the bottom.

    Click on the delete site button to proceed

    If you’re deleting a team site, you will see the following warning that mentions “resources including site, files, conversations, calendar, etc.”.

    To proceed, check the box to confirm and then on the “Delete” button.

    Check the box to confirm and click on the delete button to proceed

    If you’re deleting a communication site, you will see a similar warning but without the line mentioned earlier.

    To proceed, check the box to confirm and then on the “Delete” button.

    Check the box to confirm and click on the delete button to proceed

    Deleting a site from the SharePoint admin center

    You can also delete a site from the admin center.

    To get there, go to the site below but make sure to use your tenant name:

    https://yourtenant-admin.sharepoint.com/

    Once there, go to the “Active sites” page and select the site you want to delete.

    Go to the active sites page and select the site to delete

    Then, click on the “Delete” button on the command bar to proceed.

    Click on the delete button on the command bar

    You will then see the same delete box where you check a box and click on the “Delete” button.

    Check the box to confirm and click on the delete button to proceed

    How to restore a deleted site

    Now, what if you deleted a site you’re not supposed to?

    Fortunately, you can quickly restore a site you delete (although the actual restoration time may depend on the size of the site and the time passed when you deleted it).

    Note that sites without groups are retained in the recycle bin for 93 days. For team sites with Microsoft 365 groups, the retention is only 30 days.

    To restore a site, go to your SharePoint admin center. Again, here’s the link (replace it with your tenant):

    https://yourtenant-admin.sharepoint.com/

    Once you’re on the admin center, go to the “Deleted sites” page. Then, select the target site and click on the “Restore” button on the command bar.

    On the deleted sites page, select the target site and click on the restore button

    You will then have a similar box when deleting a site. Click on the “Restore” button to proceed.

    Click on the restore button to proceed with the restoration

    Delete a site with caution

    Deleting a site is easy. Restoring a site is also easy. But you still need to practice caution since there’s only a limited time for you to reverse this action.

    Always check with your team and group owners whether or not they’re still using the site (and its associated apps and subsites).

    If you find it tiring to visit a site per site, you can delete and restore a site from the SharePoint admin center.

    Do you have some questions? Drop them below in the comment section so we can talk about them.

    For inquiries and concerns, send me a message through my contact page and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

    About Ryan Clark

    As the Principal Solutions Architect at Mr. SharePoint, I help companies of all sizes better leverage Modern Workplace and Digital Process Automation investments. I am also a Microsoft Most Valued Professional (MVP) for Office Apps & Services.

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