Restore Documents From Recycle Bin In SharePoint Online

SharePoint Online, by design, provides a mechanism by which when a document is deleted. It goes to a Recycle Bin from where we can restore the document. It acts just like the Windows Recycle Bin we have been using in our desktop. SharePoint has provided two levels of recycle bin to roll back the accidental deletion of documents. Once it is deleted from the Library, it first goes to the Site level recycle bin from where you can restore it. If it is still deleted from there, it goes to the Site Collection Recycle Bin (Also known as Second Stage Recycle Bin).

So, the recycle bin acts like a safety net that will hold the accidental/purposeful deletion of the documents from the library. Only the Site Collection Administrator can restore the documents from the second stage recycle bin. The documents will remain in the recycle bin for a period of 90 days before being purged. It would be hard to get back the document after it is purged from the recycle bin and you will have a hard time raising request with the SharePoint Online team to get a site back up restored.

In this write-up, we will see how to restore from these two recycle bins in SharePoint Online.

First Stage Recycle Bin

The first stage recycle bin is at the site level. We will see how to work with it first. Say, we have two documents in the Shared Documents Library.

Let’s go ahead and delete it. It will be moved to the recycle bin. We can spot the recycle bin in the quick launch.

If it is missing in the quick launch, you can find it from the Site contents page.

Select the documents and click on "Restore" to roll back the deletion.

Instead, if we click on "Delete Selection", It will be moved to the second stage recycle bin.

Second Stage Recycle Bin

You can go to the second stage recycle bin by either appending ‘_layouts/15/AdminRecycleBin.aspx?View=2&ql=1’ to the existing URL in the address bar of the browser or by clicking on the link shown in the below diagram.

Here also, you can do the restoration of the deleted items provided you are the Site Collection Administrator.

Going back to the library, we can see the restored items.


Thus, we saw how to restore documents from Site and Site Collection level recycle bin in SharePoint Online. This works the same way in SharePoint Server 2016 as well.

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