In March 2015, Microsoft announced the deprecation of the public website feature in SharePoint Online. New tenants were no longer able to create public-facing site collections, and existing ones were given two years grace period to move the website to a different solution.
Two years passed by, and the due date is almost upon us. The KB article has been updated with detailed schedule on the deletion process, as follows:
- Beginning May 1, 2017, anonymous access for existing sites will no longer be available. If customers need more time to move their public website, they have a one-time postponement option for up to one year (March 31, 2018). Customers must select the postpone option by May 1, 2017.
- On September 1, 2017, when Microsoft deletes the public site collection in SharePoint Online, customers will no longer have access to the content, images, pages or any other files that reside on their public website. Before September 1, 2017, customers should make a backup copy of all their public website content, images, pages, and files, so they don’t lose them permanently.
- On March 31, 2018, Microsoft will delete all public sites that have been postponed.
The postpone option has been added under the SPO admin center (Office 365 admin -> SharePoint -> Settings -> Postpone deletion of SharePoint Online public website), and looks like this:
Should you miss the deletion timeline as well, you will still be able to recover the content via the Recycle bin.