Jira Cloud Project Archiving – How to Do it Safely

When creating a mature cloud infrastructure, it’s important to do routine hygiene checks of your instance to ensure that it continues to function optimally. As your organization grows, you will naturally find your instance more clogged and cluttered over time if you don’t work to maintain organization and protocols.

Beyond maintaining tidy configurations, another available option to improve performance and ease searchability is to archive your Jira projects. There are two ways to do this: online and offline.

In this post, we’ll review the best practices for safely archive projects in your Jira Atlassian Cloud instance. If you want to learn more about best practices for migrating and optimizing your Jira Cloud instance, check out our new whitepaper Lessons Learned from Jira Cloud Migrations.

Let’s get started.

What is Jira Project Archiving?

Archiving is a method of basically storing or deleting old projects that are no longer in use so that your infrastructure is more lightweight and has better searchability. There are two methods for archiving in Jira Cloud, one that would have you delete archived projects entirely to free up more space, and one that just hides them from view, but keeps a copy in your instance.

Method 1: Offline Archiving

Offline archiving, as mentioned above, requires you to create an XML backup of your Jira Software instance first, before removing the project. This method allows you to free up space by deleting the project, and all of its Jira Issues from your live Jira instance, that no longer require referencing.

This provides a quicker experience when searching for projects because it reduces the size of your index. Once completed, the project will no longer be available on the ‘Administration’ menu or the ‘Browse Projects’ list, and its issues will no longer exist in your live Jira system.

However, this method should not be taken lightly because there is no easy way to restore a deleted project to your live Jira instance once archived. Therefore, we recommend this method only if you are certain that you will not need to restore your work to a live instance later (i.e. you plan to restore the data to a non-production instance).

If this is the route you plan to take, we’ve outlined Jira offline archiving best practices below.

How to Archive a Jira Project Offline

  1. Create a global XML backup of your entire live Jira instance.
  2. Import the XML backup into a test Jira instance.

IMPORTANT: Make sure that the test Jira instance uses a separate database from your live Jira instance, as the import will overwrite all data in the database.

  1. In your test Jira instance, verify that you can view the archived issues of that project.
  2. In your live Jira instance, select Projects from the Administration menu, then click the Delete link to delete the project and all of its issues.

IMPORTANT: Deleting the Project will result in all the attachments also getting deleted from the Home Directory. Make sure any attachments are copied to the test instance before deleting the project.

Restoring a Deleted Project

If you need to restore a project from a backup file, please refer to the official Atlassian instructions. Keep in mind that the Jira version and database type must be the same as the version in use when the archive was first created.

Archiving Issues Only

To perform issue archiving only, filter for old issues that you want to archive then perform a bulk move into a separate project and then archive that project via the offline method just discussed, or the online method referenced below.

Method 2: Online Archiving

With online archiving, you keep all of your content on your live instance but hide it from view using project permissions. By creating a unique permission scheme for projects you archive, you can quickly remove inactive work.

The main difference between online and offline archiving is that online archiving won’t improve indexing. However, it will improve any search function and it’s far less risky to your Jira data you can easily make the project accessible again if required.

Here are the best ways to do this.

A: Hiding Projects

With this option, if you hide a project it will still be available via the ‘Administration’ menu, but it will no longer appear in the ‘Browse Projects’ list. Additionally, no-one will be able to search, view, or modify the project’s issues. To do this:

  1. Create a new permission scheme but leave all permissions within it blank.
  2. Associate the new permission scheme with the project that you wish to hide.

B: Making a Project Read-Only

With this option, the project will be visible via the ‘Administration’ menu and will appear in the ‘Browse Projects’ list. The project’s issues will be searchable and viewable, but no one will be able to modify them. To do this:

  1. Create a new permission scheme. Grant the ‘Browse Project’ permission to everyone who needs to be able to search or browse the project, or view its issues. Leave all of the other permissions empty.
  2. Associate the new permission scheme with the project you want to hide.
  3. To prevent workflow transitions from happening you will need to update the workflow and add a condition to each transition. The conditions should check that a user has the Edit Issues permission.

Accessing an Archived Online Project

If you archived a project online, by hiding it or making it read-only, and need to access it, simply associate the project with a permission scheme where the appropriate permissions (e.g. ‘Edit Issue’, ‘Assign Issue’, ‘Resolve Issue’, etc) are assigned to the appropriate people.


While it is important to keep your Jira Cloud instance tidy by archiving unused projects and issues, it’s important to exercise caution and choose carefully whether to archive offline or online.

We’ve performed many Jira Cloud migrations and have learned many valuable lessons from our experiences. If you’d like to learn more about how to maximize your Jira Cloud infrastructure for best practices and create a mature, optimal instance, we encourage you to read our whitepaper Lessons Learned from Jira Cloud Migrations.

If you need an expert hand to help you perform a complex Jira Cloud migration, and ensure that you get off on the right foot with proper onboarding, please reach out today.