Excel Survey links have stopped working

We send out a feedback form with an Excel Survey whenever we complete a job for our customers. We recently noticed that the Excel Survey link stopped working with the following error: Sorry, you cannot access this document. Please contact the person who shared it with you.You cannot access this document please contact the person who shared it with you

When the Excel document is opened on SharePoint, the Survey option is missing from the home tab. When attempting to create a new Excel Survey via the New menu, we receive the message – Sorry, you can’t create surveys here. Your administrator needs to allow users to share survey links.Sorry, you can't create surveys here

To resolve this, we need to enable the sharing of documents with anonymous links. This can be enabled on the organisation-wide sharing settings, or on the individual site collections under the SharePoint Admin Center.

Visit the SharePoint Admin Center

Navigate to the SharePoint Admin Center via the Office 365 Admin Portal at https://portal.office.com/AdminPortal/Home, then click SharePoint under Admin centers on the left menu.

Alternatively you can go direct to https://yourtenantname-admin.sharepoint.com, where yourtenantname is replaced by the name that appears before .sharepoint.com in your SharePoint site URL. For example, https://ozbizweb.sharepoint.com becomes https://ozbizweb-admin.sharepoint.com.

Change the Sharing Settings on the entire organisation:

We can change the organisation wide sharing settings to allow anonymous links. This makes the change across all site collections.

Click Sharing on the left menu, and then choose to Allow sharing to authenticated external users and using anonymous access links.Allow sharing to authenticated external users and using anonymous access links

Change the Sharing Settings on an individual site collection:

  1. Click site collections on the left menu
  2. Select the site collection you want to modify, and click Sharing on the ribbonChange site collection sharing settings
  3. Select the option to Allow sharing with all external users, and by using anonymous access links.Allow site collection sharing with external users and using anonymous access links

Confirm the Surveys are working

We can now re-open the Excel Survey, and see that the survey option has returned.Survey links are working again

The original shared survey links should also be working as normal.

What caused the sharing settings to be changed?

I wasn’t sure, so I had to check the Unified Audit Logs in the Office 365 Security and Compliance Center.

You can use the new Office 365 Security and Compliance Center to report on pretty much any action that occurs in Office 365.

The Security and Compliance Center can be found at https://protection.office.com, or by navigating to Security & Compliance under the app launcher.Open app launcher and security and compliance center

Click on Search & Investigation on the left menu, then click Audit Log Search.Open audit log search

Unfortunately, the Unified Audit Log is not running by default. So if you haven’t enabled it yet, it won’t be recording any user/admin actions with Office 365. To enable it, click Start recording user and admin activities.

Start recording user and admin activities

We’ve been recording to the Unified Audit Log for a while, so I was able to run a search on anyone who changed a sharing policy since we last received a completed Excel Survey:Seach unified audit log

The results reveal the source of the change:

Unified audit log search results

On the 6th of September, Ryan was working on some Data Loss Prevention alerts and made some changes to the Default Sharing Policy for sharing using anonymous links.

Share using anonymous links disabled

In summary

If your Excel Survey anonymous links stop working, check your sharing settings. To find out what happened, check the Security and Compliance center. And if you haven’t already, start recording User and Admin activities at https://protection.office.com/#/unifiedauditlog

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