Protect Users from Themselves: Revoke Their Right to Delete

prevent data loss on your SharePoint siteHere's an issue I've always had with SharePoint – or rather, with SharePoint as it usually has been implemented at client sites.

Every site you set up has certain default permission levels, the most commonly assigned being "Contribute." You have to have Contribute rights to add or edit anything to a list or a document library, so if you have a Practice Group or Community SharePoint, most of your users will have Contribute rights. By default, all "Members" of your site get Contribute rights.

BUT, the Contribute permissions level also allows people to delete things. This really worries me as an administrator. Having to delete something is a relatively rare event, and accidental deletions result in data loss. If it were up to me, all SharePoint sites would be set up to exclude delete rights from the Contribute permissions level. (If a user absolutely needed to delete something, he or she would have to request this, but that little annoyance is more than made up for in better data integrity.)

You can revoke Contributor permission level delete rights in your own SharePoint site, and in my opinion you should. Here's how:

  • Go to Site Settings. You must make this change at the top (site collection) level. If you are not there, then under Site Collection Administration, click "Go to top level site settings."
  • Under Users and Permissions, click Site permissions.
  • On the Ribbon, upper right, click Permission Levels.
  • You will see a list of possible permission levels in your site. Click Contributor to modify that level.
  • Under List Permissions, uncheck the boxes for Delete Items and Delete Versions. Then click Submit.