This question is necessarily vague, and I apologize in advanced for that. Somewhere on this stackexchange I saw an answer that referred to using third-party applications that can split a large content database (3TB in my case) into multiple smaller files. The context led me to believe this was something on the SQL side rather than SharePoint side, and the closest I've been able to find is file-groups and file splitting, both of which I find somewhat confusing. This question may be closed for being too broad, but I figured it was worth a shot.

Is there a third-party application or SQL functionality that can break a single content database into multiple MDF files, similar in nature to a ZIP file?

The bulk of the content cannot be moved into a separate site collection, so that is not an option.

2 Answers 2


It is always recommended for large databases that you use multiple data files. It will help in performance, but makes it tough for backup and restore activity.

For new DB:

You can use the Alterdatabase statment to split it. Read more here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sql/t-sql/statements/alter-database-transact-sql-file-and-filegroup-options

But I would also recommend, it is hard to manage single site collection with this much data. You should do couple of things:

  • delete the old data or create a new site collection and archive data over there.
  • Split the site collection into multiple site collections using powershell or 3rd party tools.

No. The smallest entity to break out into it's own database is a site collection. You cannot have multiple databases for one site collection. You need to look into extracting sites/ subsites/ libraries and putting them into it's own site collection categorizes by group, division, or other organizational unit.

You can use PowerShell, or a 3rd party application to move content like that over to its own site collection and thus, to another content db, but it seems as though it's going to be quite the headache. I'd also look into retention and moving files that are older than X amount of months to an archive site collection, possibly using a timer job or custom retention information management policy.

  • This content is all under one site collection, one subsite, about half of it (1.5TB) under one library. I got the impression that whatever "3rd-party software" the person was referring to might not be SharePoint-specific, but rather a SQL thing.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 19:25
  • If you want to break that out into different databases, it needs to be separated into different site collections. The method on which you do that is up to you.
    – Mike
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 19:28
  • anything touching SQL is generally in the SharePoint world a no-no. That would be a "do at your own risk" and put you out of compliance for MSFT support.
    – Mike
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 19:36
  • Yep, understood. Having an RBS-enabled database over 200GB also puts me out of MS support, so at this point losing MS support is almost a given no matter what I try. I'm less concerned about that then I am about getting this database under control.
    – Omegacron
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 20:19
  • 1
    You're not out of support up to and even above 4TB in a standard CDB (Microsoft RBS is used for those coming from WID to SQL Express, not Enterprise customers). As long as you meet performance targets, (0.25 IOPS/GB minimum), the important part is ensuring your backup/restore completes in the appropriate amount of time.
    – user6024
    Commented Jun 2, 2017 at 15:04

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