What is archiving SharePoint sites and why we’d need it?
Disclaimer: Archival that was announced at Microsoft Inspire 2023 (Introducing Microsoft 365 Backup and Microsoft 365 Archive) is not what we are discussing here.
(Work in progress)
You are in the process of cleaning-up large Microsoft 365 environment. You need to delete SharePoint sites (e.g. due to inactivity) but you cannot get confirmation from site owners (e.g. sites or groups are ownerless).
Deleted sites could be restored within 93 days of deletion if somebody rise a hand, but there is still a risk of possible loosing of important information, e.g. in case site is needed one a year. So you need to do clean-up but at the same time you want to decrease risks of loosing information.
So, you might want to do something with sites to engage users to volunteer to be site owner if they want to keep this site – e.g. prevents using the site the regular way and let users know that the site will be deleted etc., but do not actually delete site until it will be fully clear that site is not needed for anyone and can be safely deleted.
Let us call it “Staging” period. Depending on your org culture/rules/licensing etc. it might be 6 months, or 1 year or 5 years or more.
generally, the options are (random order):
- Set site to Read-Only mode
- Set site to No-Access mode
- Convert group from Public to Private
- Remove access to the site (remove users from group)
- Rename the site
- Put a banner on a top bar with a message
- Message to Teams or Yammer chat
- Send e-mail to site members
- Implement a Microsoft 365 ownerless groups policy
You might choose to set sites to read-only mode or even no-access mode. If so – users that are still need this site are loosing ability to work with site, but site is not deleted. Consider archiving as kind of scream-test phase before actual sites deletion.
If a user who needs this site would scream (rise a ticket to restore site) – you can trigger processes of
a) finding new owner for the site
b) excluding the site from clean-up process
c) actual restoring site to normal mode
There are some options to setup a site to Read-Only or NoAccess mode. Here is the PowerShell command:
$siteurl = "https://contoso.sharepoint.com/teams/Team-SO-B" Get-PnPTenantSite -Identity $siteurl | ft -a Url, LockState Set-PnPTenantSite -Identity $siteurl -LockState ReadOnly Get-PnPTenantSite -Identity $siteurl | ft -a Url, LockState Set-PnPTenantSite -Identity $siteurl -LockState NoAccess Get-PnPTenantSite -Identity $siteurl | ft -a Url, LockState Set-PnPTenantSite -Identity $siteurl -LockState Unlock
The problem is what if the site is teams-connected or yammer-connected or just group-based. Here are some test results:
|Services SharePoint site is connected to/Site State||Read-Only||NoAccess|
|SharePoint and Outlook||Outlook emails: OK|
Outlook files: read-only experience; No options to upload or create document; Documents are open in read-only mode. “The file couldn`t be saved to group” error message when trying to save file to a group library.
|Outlook emails: OK|
Outlook files: empty screen; No error messages; Documents are not visible; “The file couldn`t be saved to group” error message when trying to save file to a group library.
|SharePoint and Yammer|
|SharePoint, Teams and Outlook||Teams chats: OK|
Teams files: documents are open as read-only; No options to upload or create a new document
SharePoint: “This site is read-only at the administrator’s request.”
|Teams chats: OK|
Teams files: “403 FORBIDDEN” error message
This site can’t be reached
The webpage at https://contoso.sharepoint.com/teams/Team-STO-B might be temporarily down or it may have moved permanently to a new web address.
So you can see – behavior is inconsistent – users can still chat in Teams and Yammer and consume SharePoint content (in case the site in read-only) or get error messages or not very meaningful results (in case the site is in NoAccess mode) – so it would be not clear for users that the site is gong to be decommissioned.
to be continued…