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Fully Deleting Users From Jira

We are attempting to migrate from on prem Jira to Jira Cloud. We have inactive users that we want to purge prior to the migration. We are getting the following message:

Cannot delete user. 'user' has associations in Jira that cannot be removed automatically.

We have had a Duckduckgo and there appears to be no definitive way to fully delete users in Jira? This problem appears to have been going on since at least 2013. Surely this cannot be the case? Otherwise, we would have to painstakingly work through thousands of items and reassign / delete them.

Is there any workaround or way to fully delete a user and re-assign or delete their comments, assigned and reported issues?

Thanks in advance.

3 answers

1 accepted

2 votes
Answer accepted

Hello @James Bourne ,

The following Document details what you need to do to delete a user:

Just like @Nic Brough _Adaptavist_ noted "It can get very very complicated" highlighted in the section at the bottom of the documentation for deleting a user:

Delete a user

We recommend you think carefully before deleting a Jira user. Consider deactivating instead and see the section above for more information. 

Before you delete, note that:

  • You cannot delete a user from within Jira if you are using External User Management (However, you can deactivate the user. See instructions above).
  • You cannot delete a user from Jira if they have:
    • reported or been assigned to any issues.
    • commented on any issues.
  • The filters and dashboards of a user will be deleted when the user is deleted, even if the filters or dashboards are shared with other users.
  • All issues that have been reported by or assigned to the user you are attempting to delete, are respectively hyperlinked to a list of the individual issues in the Issue Navigator.

The key takeaways are that to be able to delete a user, that account is tied to all the data they created for the data integrity portion of issue tracking and history events, so you first need to remove all the data associated with that user from all the issue they worked on in the form of comments, and assignments, owned filters, and issues the user created.  so the recommendation for preserving the data is to deactivate the user instead to avoid having to perform the data cleanup and preserve the chain of information tied to the original account.  Alternatively, you need to first go through and manually delete/modify the issues and data associated with the user before deleting them.

Then if you do choose to delete the account vs deactivation, just below that portion it gives the steps to delete the user in an expand macro, noting:

  1. Select Administration () User Management and find the user in the user list.
  2. Click the Delete link in the Operations column.
    The confirmation screen that follows will summarize any involvement of that user in the system by showing current issues assigned to and reported by that user, etc. These connections between the user and other parts of the system may prevent the deletion of that user.
  3. Take any actions required to disassociate the user with Jira. The error message will give you exact instructions but these may include:
    • Reassigning any issues currently assigned to the user.
    • Bulk-editing the issues created by the user and changing the 'Reporter' to someone else. You will also need to allow editing of closed issues if some of the issues the user created are closed and you do not wish to reopen them.
    • Changing the owner of shared dashboards owned by the user. See Managing dashboards.
    • Changing the project lead for any projects where the user is a lead.
  4. If there are no issues assigned to, or reported by the user, and the user has not commented on any issues, the confirmation screen will display a Delete button. Click to delete the user.


Thanks, Earl. So there's no way to just reassign all comments, tickets etc. to another user? What I'm trying to do is purge all the junk out of our Jira instance prior to moving it to a cloud instance. I don't want those dead users in the cloud instance as they incur a cost. Is there no database query that can be performed?

In theory, yes, you could strip them from the database, but, well, don't.  It will make a mess of your data, giving you some "interesting" errors on Server and quite possibly making your data un-importable on Cloud.

Stick with disabling the users - this breaks nothing, it retains the information that a particular person did things with the issues, and, probably most importantly here, disabled users do not count towards your licence!

Thanks. I found you could anonymize users. Which is basically acceptable. We have GDPR requirements and, as such, we choose to not leave personally identifiable information in systems when the employee has left the business after a certain period of time. It's still a weakness in not being able to delete users as you just accrue "dead accounts" over time. Does Jira Cloud remedy this? Or are we left in the same situation?

No, Cloud also needs the accounts so that it does not lose data.

I tried a migration to cloud. The legacy accounts are not migrated. The projects and tickets are migrated but you can't access anything afterwards. I checked the logs and everything looks OK except for warnings regarding an obsolete field or two. Does migration actually even work?

If anyone else reads this thread: abandon hope all ye who enter here:

  • Jira has no "bulk reassign" functionality - so it's not possible to reassign issues or comments en-mass from one user to another. Correction: see the answer below. It is possible but it's not obvious
  • Consequently, you cannot delete users out of Jira - just forget it
  • You cannot export from on-prem Jira into cloud Jira using the Jira Cloud Migration Assistant when legacy deactivated accounts are in play. The fact that those accounts are present completely breaks the Jira Cloud access rights model. You won't be able to access any issue or comment. You will get no help from Atlassian apart from "retry the import"
  • The Jira Cloud Migration Assistant doesn't work properly either and its success is predicated on the actual version of Jira you have installed. Heaven help you if you attempt to migrate with even a "slightly" older version of Jira. Also, all Jira .0 Cloud Migration Assistant versions do not work.

Hence, we abandoned the migration to cloud Jira and just started afresh. We had wasted too many days (or was it weeks) attempting to clean up a decade-old Jira and Confluence instance then migrate.

Oh yeah - did I mention Confluence migration ... yes well that doesn't work either. Some articles get migrated. Markup gets lost. Another waste of time. Start afresh or export everything to DOCX or PDF.

It does have "bulk reassign".  For assignee (and reporter), it's a simple bulk-edit from the search results (issue navigator)

Everything else you've said there is spot on.

(We run into most of that all the time at the moment, we're doing a lot of Cloud migration.  And we're constantly telling Atlassian that this is something that needs work in the JCMA)

OK - I must try the "reassign" again. It's been 6+ months since I looked at it. We have upgraded the on-prem Jira since then so maybe it's a lot better / easier to use. I couldn't make head nor tail of it before and I looked like I had to manually reassign each and every issue / comment etc.

The key reason for deleting users is primarily our compliance obligations. We are continuously audited by our clients since the software we produce is used in restricted environments. The controls we apply allow for account deactivation (e.g. when an employee goes on leave). However, once a person has left the business they account must be physically removed. Our clients demand that accounts be deleted. We have the opportunity to implement compensating controls but the "renamed / disabled/deactivated" account doesn't work with them. It's still a risk as those accounts can be re-activated.

So if anyone from Atlassian is reading this: "please implement issue/task/comment reassignment and full account deletion in one click manner". It should just be a selection when deleting the user: "reassign everything to user X".

1 vote

It can get very very complicated - there are a lot of answers and things to think about, so I would start by simplifying the annoyingly complicated range of possibilities.

What user management system are you using?  (Internal, LDAP, Crowd, etc?) 

Thanks for your feedback. We are just using internal user accounts at the moment. Jira and Confluence are hosted on a standalone VM.

Sorry, I didn't see your update at the time! 

I won't repeat what Earl said just now - he's given us everything I'd want to say.

Like Earl McCutcheon likes this

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