Remove work items permanently

TFS 2018 | TFS 2017 | TFS 2015 | TFS 2013

You can permanently remove one or more work items from the on-premises Team Foundation database for a team project collection by using the witadmin destroywi command. Work items whose state is set to Closed remain in the database and can be reactivated. Permanently removed work items are removed from the database and cannot be restored nor reactivated.

Each work item represents an object that is stored in the Team Foundation database and that is assigned a unique identifier, which is referred to as a work item ID. Work item IDs are unique within a project collection.

You can run witadmin destroywi against an on-premises TFS only.

To run the witadmin command-line tool, open a Command Prompt window where Visual Studio is installed. The witadmin command-line tool installs with any version of Visual Studio. You can access this tool by installing the free version of Visual Studio Community.

Version Change directory
TFS 2018 cd %programfiles(x86)%\Microsoft Visual Studio 16.0\Common7\IDE
TFS 2017 cd %programfiles(x86)%\Microsoft Visual Studio 15.0\Common7\IDE
TFS 2015 cd %programfiles(x86)%\Microsoft Visual Studio 14.0\Common7\IDE
TFS 2013 cd %programfiles(x86)%\Microsoft Visual Studio 12.0\Common7\IDE

On a 32-bit edition of Windows, replace %programfiles(x86)% with %programfiles%.


  • You must be a member of the Team Foundation Administrators security group or the Project Administrators security group for the team project collection. See Permission reference.


Even if you log on with administrative permissions, you must open an elevated Command Prompt window to perform this function on a server that is running Windows Server 2008. To open an elevated Command Prompt window, choose Start, open the shortcut menu for Command Prompt, and choose Run as Administrator. For more information, see the Microsoft Web site.


witadmin destroywi /collection:CollectionURL /id:id [/noprompt]  


Parameter Description
/collection:CollectionURL Specifies the URI of the team project collection or VSTS account. For example:

On-premises TFS format: http://ServerName:Port/VirtualDirectoryName/CollectionName
If no virtual directory is used, then the format for the URI is the following: http://ServerName:Port/CollectionName.
VSTS format: http://
/id:id The ID of a work item to destroy. To specify multiple work items, separate IDs using only commas, without whitespace.
/noprompt Disables the prompt for confirmation.
/? or help Displays help about the command in the Command Prompt window.

Permanently remove work items from the database

The following example deletes the work item 2003 from the database for Collection1 on the AdventureWorksServer server:

witadmin destroywi /collection:http://AdventureWorksServer:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection /id:2003  

The following example deletes the work items with IDs, 12, 15, and 23 from the database for Collection1 on the AdventureWorksServer server:

witadmin destroywi /collection:http://AdventureWorksServer:8080/tfs/DefaultCollection /id:12,15,23