Restore options in SharePoint Online

Updated some bullets on request of the tech support team.


Recently I got into a discussion on how recoverability actually works within SharePoint Online. Below are a few facts.


Site Collection Restore

  • Contact Microsoft Support for assistance with possible data loss issues.  They will work with you to assess the best route to restore the desired content, whether that be versioning, the recycle bin, or an actual restore.
  • Backups are retained for 14 days, so the sooner we can get started with data gathering the better.


Recycle Bin

  • By default Sites, Lists, Libraries, Folders, Items and Documents will all go into the recycle bin.
  • If an end user empties his recycle bin, the content will be transferred into the site collection recycle bin.
  • A site collection administrator is able to restore items from the site collection recycle bin.
  • Items that have been deleted into the recycle bin will remain there for 93 days.
  • The 93 days is the total length regardless weather the items are in the user recycle bin or in the site collection recycle bin.

More info:
Manage the Recycle Bin of a SharePoint Online site collection 



  • It is possible to turn on versioning on documents and items in SharePoint Online.
  • If versioning is turned on and no limit has been set on the amount of versions to keep, you can go back in time for as long as you want.
  • If you delete something into the recycle bin, all versions will be delete as well.
  • If you restore something from the recycle bin back into a library, all versions will be restore as well.
  • If you have set to keep only 3 major and 3 minor versions, the oldest versions will be purged once a new version is being created.

More Info:
Enable and configure versioning for a library
Versioning, content approval, and check-out planning



So let’s say that if a user deletes an item and waits 95 days, the item will be gone.  If they contact technical support, we can request a restore from a backup taken up to 14 days prior, so we could restore the entire site collection back to a point where the item is still in the recycle bin and is capable of being retrieved.  As we would be restoring the entire site collection, all data from the point of the backup to current would be lost.

Let’s say that we have turned on versioning and set to keep only 3 major and 3 minor versions. If we already created 3 major versions and we create a new one, the oldest major version will be purged. In order to restore this purged version, we would need to restore the complete site collection up to a point where the version is still there so we can restore it from the version history.


3rd party solutions

Note that there are 3rd party solution out there that are capable of migrating content from an on-premise environment into SharePoint Online. Usually if these tools are able to migrate content into SharePoint Online, they are able to grab content from SharePoint Online as well. Below are some 3rd party solutions that might be able to create interim backups of SharePoint Online as well.

There are also ways to manually export some of the data yourself using for example Outlook or SharePoint Workspace. Please see this post from a colleague of mine for more information.


Comments (13)
  1. Andre Kieft says:

    @Gloria, I think it will do both permissions and content as permissions are stored within the content database.

  2. Andre Kieft says:

    @Peter, the 1 TB is currently roling out to all the Office 365 tenants. I think most of them should have it by now. You can check on a personal site of a user by going to site settings-> storage metrics.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps the biggest resistance we get to SPO 2013 at this time is that 14 days/In-place and wait 2 days for MS to restore us. If only MS offered a native feature that enabled us to Item level restores and full site recoveries (to same site or new site) ourselves back up to 30 days. That alone would make it so much easier to sell our users on the idea of moving to o365/SPO. Having to buy and manage on backup tool that will have to back up our data over the internet kind of defeats all the benefits of going with SPO and all the Admin and Security benefits we get from going to the cloud… Still hopeful this will be addressed. Hoping other customers will also ask and argue for this.

  4. Raoul Teeuwen says:

    I couldn't find info on where to find the user recycle bin. So for anyone looking for that: (in wave15) click on the Office365 gear icon and choose 'Site content' (i'm Dutch so in Dutch it's "Inhoud van site"). On the next page you'll see 'Recycle bin' in the top right of the screen. If not, maybe you don't have sufficient rights.

  5. Raoul Teeuwen says:

    Hi. Just received a message from a friend. They have all their files in O365. Some workstation got infected with HowDecrypt ransomware. They need to restore a O365 backup. They were on the phone with Microsoft US for 2.5 hours and were told they would
    look into it, but prepare for a restore to be impossible?!? Andre, do you know of ‘the’ procedure to request a o365 site restore?

  6. Andre Kieft says:

    @Raoul, in that period you have to call offce 365 technical support in order to request such a restore. However this post is from January 2012, so procedures might have changed in the meantime.

  7. Peter Bradley says:

    Are there updates to this post somewhere (seems like anything O365 is ancient by the time it reaches 7 months in age).

    My specific question is: When will MS give 1TB of data to SharePoint installations like it did to OneDrive? I’ve seen articles that make me think they have already done this … but I don’t think they have … here is that article:

  8. Gloria Lawrence says:

    Hi. Just wondering whether MSFT supports restoring all the security/permission and properties for restoration of a site collection? or content only?

  9. raman says:

    @Andre, Can we customize the Recycle bin, we can show the deleted item in a formate.

  10. Andre says:

    @Raman, not exactly sure what you mean, but you can get the delete items using code using the GetRecycleBinItems method:

  11. backupoffice365 says:

    Cloud to cloud backup for leading online SaaS application. SharePoint Online are for business sites and also very powerful cloud-based collaboration and storage services. It backup all or selected sites and restore process is non-destructive. For further
    more information visit:

  12. Nancy says:

    @Andre, please help. I accidentally deleted a document library with thousand of files in it. Is there a way to restore it? Please guide.

  13. Andre Kieft says:

    @Nancy, you can always go to the cogwheel icon on the right hand side in SharePoint. Here choose Site Contents. On the top right corner you will find the recycle bin. From here you can restore the document library.

Comments are closed.

Skip to main content