Site Use Confirmation and Automatic Deletion: Stsadm properties (Office SharePoint Server)

Applies To: Office SharePoint Server 2007

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Topic Last Modified: 2017-01-25

The site use confirmation and automatic deletion properties can be set either at the server and server farm level or at the Web application level. They can be used to specify whether to send e-mail notifications about unused Web sites, how long to wait before sending the first e-mail notification, how many notifications to send, whether to automatically delete unused Web sites, and when to delete unused Web sites.

In Windows SharePoint Services 3.0, new administrative options allow you to automatically send notices to site owners requiring them to confirm that their sites are in use. You can also delete unconfirmed sites automatically. These features give you a way to control the number of unused Web sites on your server. Web sites based on Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 may become inactive for many reasons. For example, perhaps a site was set up for documents that relate to a project that has been completed, or perhaps a user was trying out Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and created a site that he or she no longer needs. Because inactive sites take up space on the servers, it's important to check with site owners to see if their sites are still needed or have become inactive.

Site use confirmation works like alerts for your users' sites. When sites are created, they are added to the database and are logged as active sites. After a specified time defined by the administrator, the site owners are sent an e-mail notification asking the owners to either reactivate or delete their unused Web sites. There are three possible outcomes from the notification e-mail:

  • If a site is in use, the site owner clicks a link to confirm that the site is active and preserve the site. When the owner clicks the confirmation link, the timer is restarted, and the owner will be notified again after the same time period.

  • If a site is not in use but the automatic deletion feature has not been activated, the site owner can delete the site by following instructions in the notification e-mail, or do nothing. The site owner continues to receive periodic e-mail notifications (the period is defined by the administrator) until use is confirmed or the site is deleted.

  • If a site is not in use and you have turned on the automatic deletion feature, the site owner is queried a specific number of times (as configured by the administrator), and if use is not confirmed, the site is automatically deleted.

Automatic deletion is an advanced administrative feature that can delete unneeded sites without any administrative intervention and without any backup mechanism. By default, site confirmation is automatically enabled and at least two least two confirmation notices are sent before a site can be deleted. You must turn on site use confirmation before you can turn on automatic deletion. In addition to these basic safeguards, you should also consider the following best practices:

  • Require a secondary contact when sites are created. When a user creates a site, the user is listed as the site owner. Depending on your configuration, the user may also be required to specify a secondary contact for the site. Confirmation notifications are automatically sent to the site owner and to the secondary contact, if one exists.

    For more information, see Plan process for creating sites (Office SharePoint Server)

  • Set reasonable intervals between confirmations and before automatic deletion.

    For example, if a site owner is unavailable for four weeks, and sites are deleted after four missed weekly confirmations, the site could be deleted without allowing the owner a chance to confirm. If you are enabling this feature inside a corporation, be sure you consider your organization's policies regarding vacations and leaves of absence when you configure the intervals for confirmation and deletion.

  • Back up Web sites regularly, so you can restore a recent copy if a site is unintentionally deleted.

    For example, if you configure confirmation and automatic deletion to happen on the fifth day of each month, make it a policy to back up your server on the fourth day. You can automate this process by creating a stored procedure in Microsoft SQL Server to check the sites table and automatically back up any items scheduled for deletion. For more information about SQL Server, see the SQL Server documentation. For more information about the sites table, see the Windows SharePoint Services Software Development Kit (

There are several settings that you can configure to control how much time elapses between stages for confirmation and automatic deletion. You can configure the following:

  • When to begin sending site use confirmation notices

    The initial notification value controls when the first confirmation notice is sent to the owner of a new site, or to the owner of a site that has been confirmed as in use. This value does not control the frequency of notifications, only the number of days to wait before the initial notification.

  • How frequently to check for sites needing confirmation and how frequently to send out notifications

    The frequency value affects both how often the server is checked and how often confirmation notices can be sent. If you set the frequency to weekly, the server is checked weekly, and notifications are also sent out weekly, immediately after the server has been checked.

  • What time to perform the check and to send out notifications

    Change this time to suit your environment. For example, if most of your users are online and accessing the server during the day, pick a time during the night when the server is not as busy.

  • How many notifications to send before allowing automatic deletion

    Adjust this number to be sure site owners receive notification before a site is deleted. The number of notifications also depends on the frequency, so if you specify daily checks, with 30 reminders before deletion, the site owner would be notified every day for a month before the site was deleted.

Be sure to configure these times to be useful and reasonable given your organization's context. In a large organization, where users may need data to be stored for some time, you can specify longer intervals. For example, you could start sending notifications at 180 days, have a notification sent every month, and delete sites after if six months have passed without a confirmation. If you are hosting free sites for customers, you may want to shorten these intervals. For example, you could start sending notifications at 45 days, have a notification sent weekly, and delete sites if four weeks have passed without a confirmation. If you are hosting sites for paying customers, you may not want to use this feature, unless you have an automated backup strategy that allows you to restore sites on request.

The confirmation and automatic deletion feature relies on the Microsoft SharePoint Timer service to carry out the timed jobs. The times and intervals you specify here follow the same rules as any other SharePoint Timer service job in Windows SharePoint Services 3.0.


There are two versions of the confirmation e-mail notification. One is used when only site use confirmation is enabled, and the other when automatic deletion is also enabled. The text for the notification e-mail messages is stored in the DEADWEB.XML file in the \Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\Web Server Extensions\12\TEMPLATE\XML folder for the server. You must be an administrator on the server computer to view or change this file. There are different versions of these e-mail messages for each language version. If you host site collections in multiple languages, be sure to customize the specific language versions of the notification e-mail messages as well.

The site use confirmation and automatic deletion properties are part of the setproperty and getproperty operations. The syntax for the setproperty operation is:

stsadm -o setproperty

-propertyname <property name>

-propertyvalue <property value>

**\[-url\]** *\<http://server\_name\>*

The syntax for the getproperty operation is:

stsadm -o getproperty

-propertyname <property name>

**\[-url\]** *\<http://server\_name\>*


You can substitute -pn for -propertyname and -pv for -propertyvalue.

The following table describes the site use confirmation and automatic deletion properties.

Property name Description

Delete-web-send-email: Stsadm property (Office SharePoint Server)

Deletes the site collection if use is not confirmed.

Dead-site-notify-after: Stsadm property (Office SharePoint Server)

Specifies the number of days to wait before sending notifications.

Dead-site-num-notifications: Stsadm property (Office SharePoint Server)

Specifies the number of notifications to send.

Dead-site-auto-delete: Stsadm property (Office SharePoint Server)

Turns on or off the setting to delete the site collection.

Job-dead-site-delete: Stsadm property (Office SharePoint Server)

Specifies the frequency interval and time range to delete unused Web sites automatically.