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  • Writer's pictureKasper Larsen

Orphaned Termstore terms

When preparing for a migration into SharePoint Online we sometime see that the source content contains terms that doesn't match anything in the Termstore, causing problems for the migration.




In this case we have found a dokument

where the department field contains the value "People and Development" .....







Looking at the current Department Termset it is obvious that that department doesn't exist.


The keyword here is "current" because at one time the Department Termset did contain the "People and Development" term.


Most likely this department was either merged into the existing HR department or a new HR department was added.



Unfortunately, we often see cases where those responsible for Masterdata such as the Termstore haven't received the necessary training and therefore make some mistakes.

In this case there are two options:

If the "HR" and the "People and Development" department existed at the same time and the "People and Development" department was merged into the "HR" department then the same should have happened in the Termstore.




When merging one term into another, in this case "People and Development" into "HR" then every place where "People and Development" was used will be updated to "HR".

Plain and simple, and just what we want.

























If the "People and Development" department was just renamed to "HR" then the correct action is to simple rename the existing term to "HR".


If you create a new term "HR" and just delete the existing "People and Development" you end up with a lot of columns that contain a value that do not exist in the Termstore.

This is also known as orphaned terms





Whenever you want to delete something in the Termstore, Wait. Triple check that you know what you are doing because you can't change your mind later


If you are about the migrate content from a SharePoint Online tenant to another you might want the scan the source content for orphaned terms and I have added this PnP.PowerShell script to the PnP Script Samples gallery that will scan for all terms and compare the result again the current values in the Termstore:


I hope you will find this useful and clean up your orphaned terms :-)




Additional sources:




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