Delete or Disable Users

When someone leaves your organisation, or no longer needs to use Confluence, you can either disable their user account, unsync it from any external directories, or delete it entirely. 

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Delete, disable, or unsync?

It's useful to understand the difference between disabling a user account, unsyncing it from an external directory, and permanently deleting it from Confluence. 

In most situations disabling or unsyncing a user account is the appropriate way to prevent a user from accessing Confluence, for example when someone leaves your organisation. However, if you do need to remove someone's name and personal details, you can permanently delete their user account.

When an user account is disabled:

  • The user won't be able to log in.
  • The user won't be included in your license count.
  • People won't be able to see the user in the People directory, mention them, or select their name/username as a search filter.
  • Their full name will still appear on any spaces or content they created.
  • They will be listed in User Management admin screens.
  • Their account can be re-enabled (this will restore the connection to their content).
  • Any content they created will be maintained.  

When a user account is unsynced from all external directories:

  • The user won't be able to log in.
  • The user won't be included in your license count. 
  • People won't be able to see the user in the People directory, mention them, or select their name/username as a search filter.
  • Their username will appear on any spaces or content they have created.
  • They will only be listed on the Unsynced from Directory tab of the User Management admin screens.
  • Their account will be restored if they are resynced with Confluence. 
  • Any content they created will be maintained. 

When a user account is deleted:

  • The user won't be able to log in.
  • The user won't be included in your license count.
  • People won't be able to see the user in the People directory, mention them, or select their name/username as a search filter.
  • An anonymised alias will appear on any spaces or content they have created.
  • They won't be listed in User Management admin screens.
  • Their account is deleted and anonymised permanently, and can't be restored.
  • Any content they created will be maintained. 

Disable a user account

How you disable a user account depends on whether you manage users in the internal Confluence directory, or in an external user directory (for example Jira, Crowd, Active Directory). 

You need the Confluence Administrator global permission to do this. 

To disable a user account:

  1. Go to  > User management
  2. Search for the user you want to disable.
  3. Choose Disable

If there is no Disable option, it is likely that Confluence has a read-only connection to an external directory. If this happens, you'll need to remove the user's access to Confluence in your external directory. This might be done by disabling the user in that directory, or changing their group membership so they are not synced to Confluence. They will be treated as an unsynced user in Confluence after your next directory sync. 

Unsync a user account

You unsync a user account by excluding it from the accounts to be synchronized with Confluence in your external directory.  See Synchronizing Data from External Directories to learn more about how directory sync works. 

To view users who have previously been synchronized with Confluence, but were not present in the last directory sync, go to  > User management > Unsynced from Directory

It's important to note that user accounts can be unsynced intentionally, or because of a problem with your external directory. Don't assume all unsynced user accounts are to be deleted. 

Delete a user account

Deleting a user is permanent, so cannot be undone.  If you're trying to reduce your license count, or only need to remove a someone's access to Confluence, you should disable their account instead. 

How you delete a user account depends on whether you manage users in:

  • an internal directory, or a single read/write external directory (such as Jira, Crowd, or Active Directory)
  • multiple external directories, or a single read-only external directory (such as Jira, Crowd, or Active Directory). 

The delete process can take several minutes, depending on the amount of content the person had created. It can also flood your index queue, as it reindexes all pages the user contributed to, so you may want to perform this task at a time that won't impact other users. 

You need the Confluence Administrator global permission to do this. 

Delete from an internal Confluence directory or read/write external directory

To permanently delete a user stored in the internal Confluence directory, or a single external directory that has a read/write connection to Confluence:

  1. Go to  > User management
  2. Search for the user you want to delete.
  3. Choose Delete
  4. Wait for confirmation that the delete process is complete. This can take a few minutes. 

The user account will be deleted from Confluence, and their name replaced with an anonymised alias. This can't be undone.

Delete from a read-only external directory, or multiple external directories

Deleting a user stored in a read-only external directory or in multiple external directories, is a two-step process. You need to remove them from all external directories and perform a directory resync before they can be deleted from Confluence. 

To permanently delete a user stored in multiple external directories, or an external directory that has a read-only connection to Confluence:

  1. In your external directory, remove the user. If the user exists in multiple directories, remove them from each one. 
  2. In Confluence, go to   > User management > Unsynced from directory
  3. Search for the username of the person you want to delete.
    If the user doesn't appear, wait for Confluence to sync your external directory (or trigger a re-sync if you usually do this manually). See Synchronizing Data from External Directories.  
  4. Choose Delete.
  5. Wait for confirmation that the delete process is complete. This can take a few minutes. 

The user account will be deleted from Confluence, and their name replaced with an anonymised alias. This can't be undone.

How deleted users appear to other people

Once a user account has been deleted their identity will be anonymised throughout Confluence in places like the page byline, mentions, comments, and page history. 

  • full names be replaced with an alias like 'user-38782'
  • usernames will be replaced with the user key (a long string of characters). 
  • their profile picture will be replaced with a default image. 

The alias and user key stays the same throughout the site.  This means people can see that pages and comments were made by the same person, but not know the identity of that person. 

Only remove access to Confluence

If you want to remove someone's access to Confluence, but retain their user account (or you can't disable their account for some reason), you can do this by changing their group membership. 

  1. Create a group, for example no-confluence-access
  2. Go to   > General ConfigurationGlobal Permissions.
  3. Make sure the no-confluence-access group doesn't have Can Use Confluence permission. 
  4. Change the user's group membership so they are only a member of the no-confluence-access group. 

If you don't manage groups in Confluence (for example group membership is always synced from your external directory), the same principles apply, but you'll need to change the user's membership in your external directory. 

Remember that permissions are additive, so just being a member of a group without Confluence access is not enough. To ensure the user can't log in to Confluence they must not be a member of ANY group that has the Can Use Confluence global permission (in any user directory). 

Limitations when deleting a user account 

The ability to delete and anonymize a user account was added in Confluence 6.13.

For earlier Confluence versions there's a workaround you can use to permanently delete a user account via the database. See Right to erasure in Confluence Server and Data Center.

You can also head to Confluence Server and Data Center GDPR support guides to read more about Confluence and GDPR generally.

There are some situations where personal information may still be stored in Confluence after you have deleted a user account, and the delete process does not remove any actual content, for example if someone has typed the user's name in plain text on a page, or if it is contained in an attached file. 

Free text is not anonymised

Deleting a user does not delete any Confluence content (such as pages, files, or comments). This means that any references to a person's full name, user name, or other personal information that were entered as free text will remain after the user account is deleted. Text entered in the link text of a link or mention are also considered free text (for example if you mention someone on a page and change the mention link text to use just their first name, or a nickname). 

Links to the deleted user's personal space (which contains their username in the URL) will also remain after their personal space has been deleted, if the links were inserted as a web link or free text. 

We suggest searching for the deleted person's name and username to see if there is any residual content left behind. 

There are also a couple of known issues that will require manual cleanup:

  • When multiple people are mentioned on a task, only the first (the assignee) is replaced with the anonymised alias. This is due to an existing bug where subsequent mentions aren't indexed. 
  • If the user to be deleted is listed on the All Updates tab on the dashboard at the point they are deleted, their updated items will appear twice, once with their anonymised alias and once with their username. They will drop off the All Updates tab as new updates occur, but their username will still be listed in the search index.  A full site reindex will resolve this issue. 

Data stored in Synchrony is not deleted

If you have collaborative editing enabled, every keystroke in the editor is stored by Synchrony in the Confluence database. This means that any references to a person's full name, user name, or other personal information typed in the editor will remain in the Synchrony tables in the database. 

See How to reduce the size of Synchrony tables to find out how to remove all data from these tables.

Personal spaces are not deleted

When you delete a user, their personal space is not automatically deleted, as it may contain content owned by your organization. This means that:

  • their username will still be visible in the space URL
  • their name may still be visible in the space title or homepage title

We recommend moving any pages or blogs that you want to keep to a new space, and then deleting the personal space entirely. Any links to the personal space will be updated with the new space key automatically when the pages are moved, unless they have been added as a web link or free text.  

Workbox notifications don't disappear immediately 

The deleted user's full name will still appear in any existing workbox notifications. For example if the deleted user had shared a page with another user, the notification will still appear in that user's workbox for up to 28 days.  See Workbox Notifications for more information about how long a workbox notification is accessible before it is automatically deleted. 

Data stored by third-party apps is not deleted

When you delete a user, we replace the person's full name and username with an anonymous alias in all the places we know about, such as mentions, page history, and in macros.

If you have installed apps from the Marketplace, there is a chance that these apps are storing data in their own tables in the Confluence database. Refer to the documentation for your app to find out the best way to remove this data. 

Last modified on Jan 22, 2019

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