Read-only lock on a SharePoint site collection, or Why can't I edit anymore?

Monday morning, the calls started.  For some reason, long-time users were unable to edit list items.  I figured we had a permissions issue, so I popped in to look at the Site Settings -- and found that I couldn't.  A quick trip to Central Administration showed that I was still listed as a Site Collection Administrator, but I had no power at all on the site collection in question.

A quick glance at the logs told me that the server had recently shut down unexpectedly (this is a Hyper-V virtual machine).  Apparently, in the confusion, somehow SharePoint decided to lock the site collection as Read Only.  This can be remedied in one of two ways:

1)  In Central Administration, go to Application Management->SharePoint Site Management->Site collection quotas and locks.  Once you have arrived, select the correct application and site collection, and you will have the opportunity to view and set the lock status of the collection (it most likely will be set to "Read-only", and you'll want to move that radio button to "Not locked").

2)  Fire up stsadm and issue the following command:

stsadm -o setsitelock -url http://myportalsitecollection -lock none


  • Why was it locked on the first place? did you find the cause of it?

  • Tina: I'm not sure, but I think it had something to do with the sudden shutdown. Maybe SP was halfway through an operation where it sets the lock to readonly...? It's all speculation after the fact.

    This has been known to happen during a backup operation, though I'm pretty sure there was no backup happening at the time. The actual circumstances may remain a mystery, but fortunately the solution is simple.

  • Thanks...
    NIce Info

  • This has just happened to me and it took me 6 hours to get to the solution because I could not access my home page or one of the other sites in the site collection even tough the rest of the sites were fine. Another clue was on Blogs the web part to help you manage posts (on the right hand side) was not visible.

    Originally I thought it was permissions and then I thought it was a corrupt site as I could see other sites.

    Anyway I believe the ultimate cause was that SQL Server was shut down whilst SP Server was still running. I believe (could be wrong) that if a process is writing to the DB and it fails "catastrophically" then the Site goes Read Only to prevent further damage. Seems like a great feature but not widely publicised.

    Hope this helps someone else.


  • I had done a back up of my Prod site to move it to test. And after the back up the site was locked somehow..This could be a bug in SharePoint 2010, not sure.

  • This has happened to us on 2 occasions. Both times there was a problem with the SQL Server which likely occurred halfway through the SP backup. During the sharepoint backup, the site collections are set to read only. If this is stopped suddenly, the site collection seems to remain as Read Only. The instructions above to remove the lock in 'Site collection quotas and locks' are correct, and i have used this method on both occasions without an issue.

  • Good article - After running a backup which didn't complete my Web App was stuck in Read Only -

    Thanks for the info.

  • Hi, you saved my day!!!

    We had the same issue and couldn't figure out what "permissions" where wrong, until I googled your answer.

    Don't know what te root problem is, but it works again. Thanks!

  • Thanks a lot man, this morning I got so many calls from users that can't add/edit items that I started to sweat. You saved my day! Cheers!

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