How-to: Recover a Deleted Project Collaboration Site in Project Online

Posted By Posted by: Peter Williams on January 12, 2018

The Problem

As explained by my colleague over a year ago in this blog, if you delete a SharePoint site that is associated to a project, whether this is in Microsoft Project Online or Project Server on-premise, you are not going to be able to find the site in any recycle bin. This is the case if you deleted the site by going to PWA Settings >> Delete Enterprise Objects >> Selected the projects(s) AND ticked the checkbox beside “delete the connected SharePoint site”.

Now in the On-Premise version, there is still a chance to recover the SharePoint site, if backups of the databases have been taken. The process to restore the site using a copy of the database is a rather involved process. The process is a simpler one if the decision is made to restore the entire web application which contains the deleted project site compared to just restoring the individual project site.

However, what if you have deleted a project site in Project Online (in the way described above)?

This was the question I asked myself recently when a site was deleted in this way. This SharePoint site contained a considerable amount of custom development, and was deleted as part of a “project clean up”. I was unaware that it was even associated with a project. It wasn’t meant to be!

Microsoft Support to the Rescue

The only course of action here is to raise a support ticket with Microsoft. The good news is that they are willing and able to help. That was a big relief for me.

Important Notes

  1. There is a limited time in which you must act. If the site was deleted over 14 days ago, then I think you will be out of luck. I couldn’t find a current official Microsoft article on this. Though there are several blogs out there that mention this detail. There was even a screenshot that contained within one of this blogs.
  2. To raise a support ticket with Microsoft, you need to be a global administrator for your Office 365 tenancy.
  3. If a sub-site is being restored, which will be the case when a project site is being restored, then any workflows will not be recovered. If you require the workflows to be restored as well, then the entire site collection will need to be restored.
    In my case, I had saved the workflows onto the project site “Site Assets” library before it was accidentally deleted; phew!! Therefore, I was able to quickly restore the workflow by uploading the solution file to Site Settings >> Solutions. Thereafter it is a matter of activating the feature on the restored project site (Site Settings >> Manage Site Features). Use the function to “Save as a Template” in SharePoint Designer 2013 to save a backup of the workflow to the “Site Assets” library.
  4. You need to provide an exact time and date of the restore point that Microsoft should restore to. They are very particular about this detail as there are legal ramifications involved.

 

Raising the Support Ticket

Well, this is the easy part. If you are a global administrator, then log into Project Online. Then click on the tile grid beside “Office 365”.

Now click on the Admin tile.

 

Then click on “need help” in the bottom right corner and you are on your way.

I received a phone call from Microsoft within half an hour and thereafter they emailed me directly.

They have an excellent method in which you can share your screen with their technical support. They ensured that the site wasn’t in any of the recycle bins, then assisted me with executing a few PowerShell commands which were a dead end and then escalated the ticket to the Microsoft Engineering Team. I had to wait for about 3 – 4 days before the site was then restored.

Things Learned Along the Way

To confirm when the site was deleted, the Microsoft team asked me to go to the Security and Compliance Centre. This was a real eye-opener for me. The screenshot below should assist in finding this very useful admin tool.

Once you are there, you may need to assign yourself permissions to perform the next steps. You will find out if you need to assign permissions if a pop-up dialogue advises you of such. If you do need to assign yourself permissions, then the screenshot below should assist you as to where to go. Please note, after assigning myself the required permissions, I had to wait about half an hour before I was then able to perform the audit search I was interested in.

 

In the Search & Investigation section, you can perform an audit search on various events (such as Delete site). I was able to quickly tell that the site was deleted on 27th Dec 2018 at 11:44 am (EST). That is American Eastern Standard Time.


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