Delete and Recreate a SharePoint Online Root Site Collection

In Office 365 SharePoint Online we haven’t had a need to delete and recreate any root site collections yet.  Mainly because we have been working with clients from the moment they begin their journey to the cloud and are able to advise them to create a separate /SandboxSite Collections instead of testing in the root.  However we’re finally reaching the point of the adoption cycle in Canada where people are spinning up their own tenancy to try out SharePoint Online.  This leads to them activating features, installing test apps, creating test data, etc., which in turn results in new site columns, content types, administration menus, lists and libraries, list/library settings changes list action buttons, workflows, etc.  Many of these configuration changes are virtually irreversible or so hard to reverse that it’s not worth the time it takes to hunt them down.

So today we finally had a need to delete and recreate a root site collection.  It was relatively painless, but there were a couple little gotchas worth sharing.  The short story is:

  • The written support article at doesn’t provide an easy visual for how to permanently delete a site collection from the recycle bin
  • There seems to be an issue with creating a new root site collection using the Publishing Portal template, but the Team Site template seems to work fine


When you delete your root site collection SPOnline provides a check box warning you that access to SharePoint will be disrupted:


Take note that your SharePoint Online sites will be accessible for a minute or two while the system fully deletes the root site collection.

But once the delete job finishes, this is the warning you will see on all of your other SharePoint site collections when the root site collection is deleted:


What threw me for a bit of a loop initially (and it’s my fault for not being patient and exactly following the procedure at is the fact that the “Permanently delete the site collection from the recycle bin and continue” option is not in the ribbon in the SharePoint admin center Recycle Bin, like documents would be within a Site collection:


So here is the visual for how a ‘permanently delete’ check box appears on the create a new site collection form (this community discussion forum thread was helpful


Publishing Portal template

This blogger had an issue with creating a new root site collection based on the Publishing Portal I think I might have had similar symptoms but the blog post is a little too short to know for sure, and I didn’t have the time for further testing to try his PowerShell commands.

What I saw was the ‘permanently delete’ check box not work a couple of times when I clicked ok – However closing and reopening the dialog box solved that.  And I also consistently recreated an issue where I selected the first template option called “Publishing Portal” but the system provisioned a new site collection using the second option for “Enterprise Wiki” for some reason…

We didn’t need to pursue that any further as we were able to start from a “Team Site” template and turn on the publishing features we needed.


One response to “Delete and Recreate a SharePoint Online Root Site Collection

  1. Update: There do seem to be some timing issues with this. If you can try to wait 10-15 minutes between each step. And note that you may need to wait 1-2 hours before you can actually create a new root site collection. Best to start at the end of the day or on a weekend if you can.

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