We are currently in the discovery phase of our planned 2016 Sharepoint Online move. We are currently using DFs. Below are some stats behind our company:

  • Roughly 250 internal users
  • Potential for many external users (individual files only)
  • 175 subsites or site collections that are basically clients
  • Permissions are mostly based on defined Active Directory groups, but with the possibility for specific site / library / file access for those outside using SP Permissions
  • Roughly 2 TB of data with the need for that to double in the next 5 years

Initially, I was planning on doing individual site collections for each "client" as I was worried about the 2000 subsite limit. Since then, the scope of what might possibly be under each client has dropped and we're looking at more metadata filtering and less subsites. I also have gathered information that Site Collections might be the way to go because of permissions.

The final reason why I was leaning in that direction was some of the things I am reading about Team Sites and Sharepoint Online, like below:

  • 1TB limit for data in a single site collection
  • 300 User Limit for a single site collection
  • 5000 item limit for a list or library

Are these still actual numbers? If I need to migrate 1.5TB of data, is a single site collection impossible? Does the 300 user limit include external users?

The final piece to this puzzle is why I am currently leaning back to subsites or at the very least open to that design. We have a billing team that needs to process and store invoices in a single repository. I would like to display these (possibly in a metadata based list-view) on each individual client site. I can do this within a single site collection (at least do it more easily), but haven't been able to do list views across site collections.

1 Answer 1


Since you are aiming toward SharePoint Server 2016, and the boundaries and limits are yet to be reviled, it's difficult to give an exact answer. That said, we can safely assume that boundaries and limits in 2016 won't be less than the 2013 Server version.

In SharePoint 2013 the recommended limit for content databases is 200 GB, but the supported limit is 4 TB. This means you should aim toward not exceeding 200 GB on any content database. Provided that you'd use just one site collection, you would grow out of it in just two years. I'd probably use At least 20 site collections and use branding to make the information architecture work for the users. All depends on how you can bundle the content in logical and meaningful entities.

In SharePoint Online you don't have to worry about storage capacity, just buy more when you need it. The maximum number per site collection is 1 TB, so you'd need at least four to start with to avoid changing information architecture in just 2 years.

I don't recognize 300 user limit per site collection. I've maintained a single site collection with 67'000 individual users and not even once had problem with the upper limit. It probably depends on your authentication provider (Active Directory, Live-ID or something else).

In SharePoint Online you can have 500'000+ users per tenant.

The maximum number of items in a list or library is 30'000'000

The threshold for a list is the same in SharePoint and SharePoint Online: 5'000 items. But that can be exceeded.

Software boundaries and limits in SharePoint Server 2013

Software boundaries and limits in SharePoint Onlin E-plan

  • "Provided that you'd use just one site collection, you would need 10 content databases to start with, and 20 later on. " - can you clarify this part, since one site collection can only be stored in one content database? You can not store one single site collection in different content databases. Apr 11, 2015 at 8:24
  • The 200GB limit also has its history in backup possibilities. In Online, you do not do the backups yourself and as you say Microsoft has set the new limit at 1TB for the cloud Apr 11, 2015 at 8:25
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    @RobertLindgren Thanks for making that clear! It's way to early in the morning to answer SP-questions at 7 AM Saturday. I've updated accordingly. The 200 GB limit is just there to make backups reasonable in time. Imagine moving just 0,5 TB in a slow network!
    – Benny Skogberg
    Apr 11, 2015 at 8:52
  • Thank you guys. @BennySkogberg the issue isn't Server 2013 or SP Online, we're using Online. We do not want to do this on-prem. Apr 11, 2015 at 9:38
  • So I don't think I made my point well enough. All of our clients (sites, subsites, site collections...whatever direction we end up) are the same. They will be identical looking in form and function, just with different data. So to decide to have four site collections wouldn't make logical sense. It would make more sense to have 150 site collections. The problem then seems to be that I couldn't have the central document repository that would feed a section of each of them. At least not in a usable list view. Ignite should clear this up, but assuming the limits are the limits. Site collections? Apr 11, 2015 at 9:46

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