Archived Teams Pose Visibility Challenge for Shared and Private Channels

Team Owners Might Not Know Shared and Private Channels Exist

A post by Philip Worrell highlights a potential impact on those who own or access shared channels in archived teams. The same problem exists for private channels, and its origin lies in the fact that team owners are not, by default, members of private or shared channels and therefore have no idea if these channels are active. Let’s plunge into the details.

Archiving Teams

Archival is intended to be part of the natural lifecycle of teams. Once a team serves its purpose, its owners can archive it to put the team into a read-only state. Optionally, the SharePoint site belonging to the team can also be made read-only. Team members can access archived teams, but only to read information. Team owners can continue to update content in the team (and its site).

In archived teams, private and shared channels become read-only along with the channel sites. This is what you want: it would be strange to have regular team channels read-only while shared and private channels remain writable.

According to Microsoft’s documentation, when a team owner archives a team, it moves to the hidden teams section of the teams list. My experience is that this action is inconsistent for the team owner as often the archived team doesn’t show up in the hidden list. However, moving to hidden does seem to work for team members. When you restore an archived team, it always goes back into the hidden list, even some users had it as a featured team. I guess that it’s hard for Teams to figure out where a restored team should appear.

The Problem of Channel Visibility

Shared and private channels are owned by the team member who creates them (other owners can be added later). If they create shared or private channels, team owners know that these channels exist, but unless they become a channel member, they have no visibility into the channel. It might be that nothing happens, that no one participates in channel conversations or works on documents stored in the channel site. On the other hand, the channel could be very busy with frequent and ongoing contributions from tenant and external members. The point is that team owners don’t know what’s going on.

When the time comes to archive a team, the team owner can perform the action from:

  • The Manage teams section of the Teams desktop or browser client.
  • The Teams section of the Teams admin center.
  • Using the Set-TeamArchivedState cmdlet from the Teams PowerShell module.

Archiving through the Teams desktop client doesn’t give an owner visibility into channels. As Figure 1 shows, even if the owner is a member of the team, unless they are a member of the channels, they see only regular channels listed for the team.

Archiving a team from the Teams desktop client
Archived Teams
Figure 1: Archiving a team from the Teams desktop client

The Teams admin center option (Figure 2) tells the administrator that shared and private channels are present. They can then examine the properties of the channels to find out who the owners are and check in with the channel owners to discover if it’s OK to proceed with archiving.

The Teams admin center shows shared and private channels for a team
Figure 2: The Teams admin center shows shared and private channels for a team

To find channel information with PowerShell, you:

  • Retrieve the group identifier for the team with Get-Team.
  • Retrieve the list of channels for the team with Get-TeamChannel.
  • Check the membership of the channels with Get-TeamChannelUser.

For example:

$GroupId = (Get-Team -DisplayName "Rugby Lovers").GroupId
Get-TeamChannel -GroupId $GroupId | Format-Table Id, DisplayName,MembershipType

Id                                                           DisplayName       MembershipType
--                                                           -----------       --------------             General                 Standard             Private Rugby            Private Shared Oval Balls         Shared

Get-TeamChannelUser -GroupId $GroupId -DisplayName "Shared Oval Balls" | Format-Table name, Role

Name           Role
----           ----
Kim Akers      Owner
Ken Bowers     Member
Terry Hegarty  Member
Warren Gatland Member
James Hoover   Member

When you’re happy to go ahead and archive the team, you can run the Set-TeamArchivedState cmdlet. The SetSpoSiteReadOnlyForMembers setting controls if the channel’s SharePoint site becomes read-only.

Set-TeamArchivedState -GroupId $GroupId -SetSpoSiteReadOnlyForMembers $True -Archived $True

The User Perspective

Administrators might be quite happy with their ability to archive teams. They have three ways to choose from and all are effective. Things aren’t quite so benign from the user perspective. Channel owners aren’t alerted about team archival, and Teams moves the archived teams into the hidden section of the teams list. The combination means that users don’t find out about archiving until they go to access the team and discover that it’s no longer in their active list.

Users can find the archived team by:

  • Looking in the hidden section of the teams list.
  • Viewing their teams through the Manage teams option.
  • Finding a notification about the team in their Activity Feed.

But when they access the team, they’ll have the happy surprise to discover that it’s read-only (Figure 3), including any shared or private channels they own.

Teams doesn't allow new posts to a shared channel in an archived team
Figure 3: Teams doesn’t allow new posts to a shared channel in an archived team


The recovery process is straightforward. A team owner or administrator can restore the team and all its channels. Regretfully, the Teams admin center doesn’t seem to include an option to list all archived teams. This is easily done with PowerShell or a Graph query, so it’s a curious oversight. For example:

$ArchivedTeams = Get-Team -Archived $True
$ArchivedTeams | Format-Table GroupId, DisplayName, Description

GroupId                              DisplayName                             Description
-------                              -----------                             -----------
0b9313ca-5b39-43a9-bde3-e0cd4e6ca4e0 Operations Department (Team)            The ops people
06fc846d-141d-4e38-8b29-964903b9013d Windows File Server Replacement Project A team to figure out the detailed plann...
397929bc-198d-4754-9411-c0d4e434908b Web Site Planning                       All about our web site
5cf39594-8a0a-4951-a4e9-20c98d074c40 Xmas Gift Planning                      All about Xmas Gifts
4e9393c3-67e9-4f95-a0df-70103a667c0a Global Trading Desk                     A desk for global traders
889ea6bb-0c1d-4a5e-a1ff-787e290c24f1 BRK3001                                 Composing the best session for Ignite 2016
d2d1b73c-0220-4d1b-ac31-525d9adaa1e6 SSL Admin 2                             SSL Admin test 2
b9aa3cbe-f09c-41a3-a009-d4f9130267b2 Top Performers                          Our top people

To restore (or unarchive, which is the term used in the Teams admin center) all the archived teams, I can do:

$ArchivedTeams | Set-TeamArchivedState -Archived $False

Teams logs audit events when people archive or restore a team. You can read more about the topic here.

As Philip Worrell says, restoring teams from archive might increase the amount of teams sprawl in an organization, but it might also make administrators’ lives a little easier. Wouldn’t that be nice!

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6 Replies to “Archived Teams Pose Visibility Challenge for Shared and Private Channels”

  1. Does Microsoft have any comments or work in progress to fix the issue where a team disappears for the Owner(s) when it is archived? I noticed this behavior when archiving was first introduced and tested it just now with the same result – the team doesn’t show up anywhere even under the ‘Hidden Teams’ section.

      1. Not totally sure how to refresh the client, I did exit it (and close it from the tray) and go back in and it’s still not showing up under Hidden Teams. It does show when I click the gear under Archived though.

  2. Does an archived Team eventually get deleted or can I archive a Team and it stays in the state until deleted or active again?

    1. The team remains in the archived state unless some other action happens to remove it. For instance, if your tenant uses the group expiration policy, it can remove an archived team.

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