I have a runaway list which - due to a recursive workflow and versioning - has grown to 60GB.

We are now trying to delete it. It is in the recycle bin, however I want to remove it completely.

If I remove it from the recycle bin, will SharePoint try to delete the whole list in one transaction? Will this delete impact the database server and risk stability?

Or should I just let it purge after 30 days?

  • It would be great to get some detailed internal information to help plan these maintenance tasks.
    – Russell
    Commented Mar 10, 2012 at 22:06

2 Answers 2


Just remove it from the Recycle Bin. SharePoint will issue the command to SQL Server to delete the contents in one go, so it might run slow for a bit (so do it at night), and your Transaction Logs will probably balloon in size, so do a DB backup and free up the free space on your content database once done.

  • Cheers - yeah if SP does the delete in one transaction I will do it out of hours and get our DBA team to monitor the trans logs and as you say shrink the DB after the delete.
    – Russell
    Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 22:28
  • It really is the fastest way. Any method of deleting the items one at a time would take literally tens of hours. Deleting a list is done at the database level and removes the contents and versions all in one pop. Whether or not it's done in one transaction at the data layer I've actually no idea, but I would assume that it does done in one transaction (to allow rollback and recovery of the list incase of failure halfway through).
    – James Love
    Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 22:34
  • I was hoping SharePoint would be a bit trickier and delete items in batches, to make the DB easier to manage.
    – Russell
    Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 22:59
  • What I have found in SP2003 (back in the day), was if it was all in one transaction, and it failed, (e.g. tempdb is full), the data is still corrupted as there are no resources (e.g. tempdb space) to do the rollback. At least by biting it off in chunks we can say "ok the first 1000 items were deleted, but the rest didn't work. Lets get to twork onthe next 10000").
    – Russell
    Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 23:01
  • 2
    This link is pretty much exactly the same as my situation: blogs.msdn.com/b/ajithas/archive/2009/09/08/…
    – Russell
    Commented Mar 5, 2012 at 23:05

Well I deleted the list (out of hours, luckily!) It wrote 3x the size of the list to the transaction log and I believe it locked the table while deleting (as the site was unresponsive during the delete).

Unfortunately there is no "cancel, pause, resume" button when you delete a list from the recycle bin.

From what I observed (unconfirmed), it was writing the transaction log in 3GB increments, which leads me to think SharePoint deletes the list in approx. 3GB transaction blocks. Again - unconfirmed.

  • 1
    How long did it take to delete?
    – Underverse
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 23:40

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