Busted SharePoint Site Collection Administrator Permissions

I ran into an issue tonight with a client’s WSS install where NOBODY was a Site Collection Administrator. Sure enough, the accounts were listed there (and I even validated/tried Farm Administrators, modifying in Central Admin, etc.). My account was there, but no matter what I did, I didn’t have the permissions I required – I was orphaned from administering the site. I could get into Site Settings, I could get into Advanced Permissions, etc. but I could not modify anything – only the ‘Actions’ menu items existed.


As well, if I attempted to add a new Site Collection Administrator, I would get this You need to be a site collection administrator to set this property”. Well duh, I knew that, but I was one… *sigh*


What changed/caused this?

Unclear. Very unclear actually. The Server it is on is a VMWare guest and last night I moved it from the inventory of one VM host to another (the disks were on a SAN, this wasn’t a vConvert, it was a literal Remove/Add between inventories). The only other thing I did was give the guest more RAM and more CPU’s (as the new host had more capabilities).


What fixed it?

Well, if you are reading this and depending on it for a result, you may be a bit disappointed as it wasn’t a quick/easy fix. I tried to use STSADM to define a Site Collection Administrator at the command line. The command ran successfully but did not yield any positive result (Referece: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc723735.aspx – syntax – stsadm.exe -o siteowner -url URL [-ownerlogin DOMAINUser_Name | – secondownerlogin DOMAINUser_Name]).


After scouring the web and trying to find anything of similar behavior, I tried the following (And it succeeded!). Sadly though, I still don’t understand how this happened. Possibly a user with Site Collection Administration privileges did something disruptive to the site or something directly in the database, but frankly, I doubt it – in the end, I’m going to blame some kind of SQL Corruption.


  1. I created a new web application
  2. I restored a site collection database from backup (somehow expecting that the problem would be embedded in a previous version)
  3. Once restored, I verified I had all the access I would expect


And I did. The new web application, using a backup of a site collection, was totally fine. So I deleted the original web application and site collection and I’m moving on with life. Another reason I love Site Collection Backups.