Rebooting your SharePoint Online Root Site Collection

When you take the step towards using your Office 365 tenancy for an Intranet you will of course be using the 'sites' function within your tenancy which is based on SharePoint Online.  When you start this journey most organisations use the default site collection as their root Intranet (i.e. yourcompany.sharepoint.com).  In almost everyone's mind this makes sense, it’s where you start the Intranet journey and using the root as a lunching platform just makes sense.

However now that organisations have been using their sites for a while Sharing Minds has started to receive requests to change/reset the root site collection within their Office 365 tenancies to put stronger governance and align the sites closer to their business objectives.

While the actions of resetting your Office 365 site collection is fairly straight forward, there are a few things that you need to know. Here is a high level procedure you can follow:

Before you Begin - Your Data

Before you even contemplate resettingthe root site collection within SharePoint Online make sure that you have migrated or backed up all of your site content.  Tools such as ShareGate are a great way to move information before you wipe your site collection forever.

Remove the Root Site Collection

Once you have made sure that you're not going to lose any information. You need to remove the root site collection.  This is fairly straight forward and to do this you need to be a Global Administrator within your Office 365 Tenancy (Site Collection Admin rights are not enough). 

At this point it is also important to note that all of your other site collections under the tenancy willstop working when you do this and you will start to get the "Internal Server Error 500" message.  This will occur until you create the new site collection and then they will begin working again.  So make sure you do this after hours or a weekend and let your users know that you will be performing this action.

To do this do the following:

  1. Log into your Office 365 Admin Portal and under the Admin Centres tab choose the 'SharePoint' option.  This will open the SharePoint Online management interface in a new browser tab.
  2. By default the SharePoint Admin screen should show you a list of all the public site collections in your tenancy (note the site collections for Office 365 Groups are not shown here at the time of this article)
  3. Choose the checkbox beside your root site collection and click the Delete button from the Ribbon menu
  4. Confirm the deletion of the site

That’s it, your Root Site collection is now gone (well in the recycling bin)

Create your new Root Site Collection

Now that you have removed your old root site collection it's time to put in place your new root site collection.  However before you do I recommend that you wait 15 - 20 minutes.  The reason is that you can get some strange errors occur during the creation process (i.e. template missing, etc.) if you do it too quickly.  Most likely this is because your tenancy is still processing the changes of removing the old site collection (remember there is still a timer service running somewhere in the background of SharePoint Online), giving yourself time to grab a coffee before starting the creation process will ensure that the creation of your new root site collection happens smoothly.

When your ready do the following:

  1. From the same SharePoint management interface used above, click 'New' and chose Private Site Collection from the options shown.

  2. Complete the new site collection form with all the relevant details selecting the required templates, assigning the require Site Collection Administrator and choosing the required Storage and Resource quota.

  3. Click OK to create your new Root Site Collection

It may take a few minutes for your new site collection to be created, so now is a great time to get a piece of cake to go with your coffee.

Once your new root site collection has been created you can validate it is working by accessing the site at: https://<yourdomain>.sharepoint.com along with any of the other site collections being used that would have been disabled while you were performing this action.