I have a question about how documents are stored in document libraries.

So I recently transferred over a bunch of files from our network drive to the document library using a windows explorer window with the address http:\\intranet. This gave me access to everything that is on the SharePoint website. I see all of the documents in the database associated with the website in the AllDocs table when I do a SELECT query. My concern is that the amount of files added would remove a lot of space from the server that is running the intranet website. When I go to look at the actual drive, I don't see any space removed from the server hosting the intranet website. Why is this? Is there a way to access the files directly without using the http:\\intranet url in a windows explorer window?

1 Answer 1


I think you answered your own question:

I see all of the documents in the database associated with the website

That's correct - the documents in a SharePoint document library are stored in the content database* associated with the SharePoint site the document library is in. Since they are in the content database, they are taking up space on the SQL Server.

Unless your SQL Server and Web Front End server are the same machine (usually not the case), you will not see any space removed from the WFE.

As far as your second question - no, once the files are in the content database, the only way to access them is through SharePoint, be that through a browser or through WebDAV / opening the document library in Explorer view in a Windows Explorer window.

*(unless you are using RBS, which is a whole other ball game.)

  • Does the content database compress items associated with the document library?
    – kevorski
    Jun 9, 2017 at 18:21
  • I have no idea, sorry. Jun 9, 2017 at 18:26
  • 1
    It does not compress, unless perhaps you have enabled database compression on your content database, which I do not think is a best practice (or may not even work). Also you can enable RBS (Remote Blob Storage) in your farm and it will use SQL FILESTREAMs to store files outside of the content database. But you still can't access them as file system files.
    – mannaggia
    Jun 9, 2017 at 22:03

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