OOPS! I Didn’t Mean To Delete That

Using the Recycle Bin

If you have content management rights to your SharePoint site, you may have one time or another accidentally deleted the wrong document, list item, image, page, or even worse, the entire site. The first thing to remember when you do this is not to panic. The second thing to remember is that you need to act sooner rather than later to restore the item you deleted.

Deleting the wrong item out of a list or library is a relatively simply thing to fix. In the following image, suppose I accidentally deleted the Word Document: How to Approve a Page.

When a person deletes an item from a library or list, SharePoint puts the deleted item in the Recycle Bin. That person can open the Recycle Bin by either selecting Recycle Bin which is typically found at the bottom of the bottom of the Quick Access menu unless custom branding has moved it somewhere else.

They can also get to the recycle bin by opening the Site Actions button and clicking on View All Site Contents (or clicking on the All Site Content link in the above image) and scrolling to the bottom of the page. This view of the Recycle Bin tells you that you can restore items that you have deleted from this site.

This is an important distinction because you can only restore items that you have deleted. You cannot restore items that someone else has deleted, well most users cannot. But we will get to that later.

When you open the Recycle Bin using any of the above methods, you will see a list of items that you have deleted. You can select an item to restore by clicking on the empty checkbox on the far left of any item and then clicking the Restore Selection option. You can even select multiple items from the Recycle Bin by clicking on each of their checkboxes and restore all of them with a single click.

The Restore Selection option restores the selected item to its original library location. If you had additional metadata associated with that item, SharePoint will also attempt to recover that metadata. Be careful however, not to click the Delete Selection. If you select one or more items from the list and then click the link Delete Selection, you will delete the item from the Recycle Bin. At that point, the only way to recover the item is either by requesting a site restore from a backup or by bribing your Site Collection Administrator to restore it from the Site Collection Recycle Bin. More about that later.

This restore technique works for any item in a library and includes documents, images, pages, and even items in a list such as individual announcements from an announcement list.

You should note however that items only remain in the Recycle Bin for a maximum of 30 days. Well, it is 30 days for us. However, your SharePoint administrator can change that setting. After that point, the Recycle Bin automatically flushes the old item from the bin and it is no longer possible to restore it. The Recycle Bin may also start to delete older items if it starts to run out of available space.

Recovering Items Deleted by Others

So what happens when another user accidentally deletes something from a library but they are no longer in your department or company? There is the ability for the Site Collection administrators to restore items from the full site recycle bin. First you must find your Site Collection administrators and then request that they retrieve the item(s) from the recycle bin. You must either supply the name of the item(s) to be recovered or ask them to send you a full list of all the items in the recycle bin from which you can choose which items to recover. Note that this process can take extra time and the 30 (or whatever your number is) day restriction to recover deleted items still applies. So do not delay.

Deleting a Site

How do you accidentally delete a site? First of all, not everyone can. This is a limited feature capability that only site owners and other roles that you have given Delete Site permission to. That being said, it involves first going to the site to be deleted and then selecting Site Settings from the Site Actions dropdown. In the Site Settings page, look for the option Delete this site in the Site Actions group and click on it.

In an attempt to protect you and the site, SharePoint asks whether you really want to permanently delete the Web site and its contents as shown in the following image. You could still abort the process at this point by clicking the Cancel button, but if you click OK, SharePoint will delete the site.

In earlier versions of SharePoint such as SharePoint 2007 or WSS 3.0, deleting a site was truly permanent and the only way to recover from such an error was to restore your site or possibly site collection from a backup. However, beginning with SharePoint 2010, deleted sites are also stored in the Site Collection Recycle Bin. Unfortunately, you need to be a Site Collection administrator to access the Site Collection Recycle Bin to find the deleted Site. (Think about it. If the deleted site was only in the Site Recycle Bin, then deleting the site would also delete the Recycle Bin. Therefore, Microsoft decided to place deleted sites in their parent Site Collection Recycle Bin. That also means that if you delete the site collection, there is no safety net other than restoring the site collection from a backup.)

To recover a site if you are a site collection owner, open the Site Collection Recycle Bin which is accessed from a brief paragraph at the top of the regular Recycle Bin in any site in the same site collection.

Using the Select a View menu on the left side of the screen, the site collection administrator must select the option: Deleted from end user Recycle Bin. This gives us a clue that any file deleted from an individual’s recycle bin (document, image, page, etc.) can be recovered the same way as recovering the site by going to this option. This is apparently what the previous warning message means by saying that it is permanently deleting the site. It is by-passing the individual’s recycle bin and going directly to the site collection recycle bin.

Note: the first and default option under Select a View, End User Recycle Bin Items, lets the Site Collection Administrator recover any deleted file from any user in any site within the site collection.

To restore the site, the site collection administrator simply selects the site (or other file) to be restored by placing a check in the checkbox to the left of the appropriate site and then clicking Restore Selection. Clicking Delete Selection here will truly delete the site permanently that only a restore from backup can undo.

If you are restoring a site, SharePoint also prompts you to confirm that you want to restore the named site. You have the option to continue by clicking the OK button or to cancel the restore by clicking the Cancel button.

You can see that the site has been successfully restored by clicking on View All Site Content in the Site Actions menu and scrolling down to the Sites and Workspaces section. The restored site should be back in the list of available sites. You can navigate to the site by clicking on its name

I hope this article gives you some idea of how to recover a deleted object in SharePoint 2010 and better.

C’ya next time.


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