Getting notified when you do a “mass deletion” in SharePoint Online or OneDrive

It’s a nightmare of mine… someone pings me and says that hundreds of files are missing from a document library, and they’re not in the recycle bin either. If you’re lucky, you figure out who deleted the files, and often they didn’t realize they did that. Now in SharePoint Online and OneDrive, Microsoft will notify you via email if you’ve done a “mass deletion” of data. Here’s what happens…

Here I have a document library in SharePoint Online, and I have a folder with 427 files in it:


I delete the folder, and I get a chance to confirm I want to do that. But let’s pretend I didn’t read it carefully or I clicked Delete without meaning to… Hey, I’ve seen it happen…


In about 15 minutes, I get the following email from Microsoft letting me know it detected the mass deletion, and giving me one more chance to make things right if I shouldn’t have done that…


I know the first question will be “so how many documents need to be deleted to trigger this feature.” The answer is “we don’t know, and it depends.” As Sarah Haase states:

The tricky part is determining how many files must be deleted before these automated notifications take place. According to Microsoft, “Notifications are sent to users when a higher than usual number of files are deleted per hour.” No additional information has been provided on how the ratio of file deletions is measured or what percentage increase in file deletions is enough to meet the notification threshold. As Microsoft calls out, “This is not to be considered a fail-safe file recovery solution – it is a continuation of best efforts we are making to protect your files from accidental loss.”

So… this isn’t a hard-and-fast feature that you can count on every time. My threshold may well be different than yours. But it’s nice to know that the days of deleting large amounts of data unknowingly will be fewer and farther between now.


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