SharePoint Online: How to Replace Classic Root Site Collection with a Modern Site?

Requirement: Convert SharePoint Online Root site collection from a classic to a modern site! Our requirement is, We have built a new Intranet based on a Modern SharePoint Communication site and want to replace it with the root site.

How to change the root site from a classic to a modern experience?

As SharePoint Online root site collection is created as a classic experience site by default, we had no options to migrate from classic to modern (and we can’t delete and re-create the root site!). Well, not anymore! We can replace it with another modern site either from the Admin center or using Invoke-SPOSiteSwap cmdlet. The newly introduced Invoke-SPOSiteSwap cmdlet can be used to migrate the SharePoint Online site from classic to modern. In this guide, we will show you how to change a classic SharePoint Online root site to a modern site, communication site.

sharepoint online change root site to modern

How to replace a Classic Root Site with a Modern Communication Site in SharePoint Online?

Replacing a classic root site collection with a modern site in SharePoint Online is a great way to ensure that users can access the most current features of SharePoint Online and stay organized and productive.

Here is how the process of changing the root site in SharePoint Online works:

  1. Login to SharePoint Admin Center >> Expand Sites and then Active Sites.
  2. Create a new communication site or modern Team site without Office 365 group. E.g.,
  3. Now, from the sites list, select the existing root site, and click on “Replace site” in the toolbar.
    replace classic root site with modern communication site
  4. Provide the existing site you’ve created and hit “Save”.

This will replace the root site with the new site you’ve entered. The existing root site will also be saved as an archive.

If you get “This site is on hold.” message, You got to remove the root site from the retention policy! How to Remove a site from Retention Policy in Sharepoint Online?

Convert Classic Root Site Collection to Modern site using PowerShell:

Make sure you have the latest PowerShell module for SharePoint Online installed (16.0.8812.1200 or later). To get the installed PowerShell module version, use:

(Get-Module -Name Microsoft.Online.SharePoint.PowerShell).Version.ToString()  

Step 1: Create a new modern site collection and customize it as per your requirements.

Step 2: Execute the Invoke-SiteSwap cmdlet to start replacing the old site with the new One
Here is the PowerShell script to swap a new site in place of the old site collection. As its name suggests, the Invoke-SPOSiteSwap cmdlet swaps a site collection with another one, while taking a backup of the source site collection. Also, it creates a site redirect from the source location to the target location (unless you disable it with -DisableRedirection switch!).

#Set Parameters
$SourceSiteURL = "" #Newly built intranet
$TargetSiteURL = "" #Existing Intranet Site
$ArchiveSiteURL = "" #Backup for existing Intranet
#Connect to SharePoint Online
Connect-SPOService -Url $AdminCenterURL -Credential (Get-Credential)

#Start Site Swap
Invoke-SPOSiteSwap -SourceUrl $SourceSiteURL -TargetUrl $TargetSiteURL -ArchiveUrl $ArchiveSiteURL

Please note, The source and target sites can’t be connected to an Office 365 group. They also can’t be hub sites or associated with a hub (Remove the Hub site association prior to swap and then re-associate). Typically, it takes a few minutes to complete. All subsites contained with the source and target sites will be swapped, and this cmdlet takes the following parameters:

  • SourceURL – New site that you want to swap with your old site. The source site must be an existing classic team site (STS#0), Modern Team Site (STS#3), or Communication Site (SITEPAGEPUBLISHING#0)
  • TargetURL – This is your existing Classic site in the Office 365 tenant
  • ArchiveURL – Location to archive an existing site. Must not currently exist (even in Recycle bin). This allows you to roll back your changes if required.

The Invoke-SPOSiteSwap cmdlet doesn’t convert your existing classic site collection into a modern site collection. Instead, it just replaces the current site collection with another existing site collection! Moreover, any static link must be fixed manually.

change root site in sharepoint online


In conclusion, replacing a classic root site collection with a modern site in SharePoint Online can be accomplished using either through SharePoint Admin center or PowerShell. This process can be useful when you’re looking to modernize your SharePoint Online environment and take advantage of the new features and functionalities available on modern sites. Overall, replacing the classic root site collection with a modern communication site that offers a modern user interface that is more visually appealing, Mobile-Friendly, advanced web parts, and intuitive responsive user experience helps to increase productivity and collaboration.

You can also change the site template of your base URL in SharePoint Online from classic to communication site as in SharePoint Online: Convert Classic Team Site to Communication Site

Salaudeen Rajack

Salaudeen Rajack - SharePoint Expert with Two decades of SharePoint Experience. Love to Share my knowledge and experience with the SharePoint community, through real-time articles!

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