I am totally new to sharepoint so please be patient with me.

A company that lost a contract for my company’s customer had created a system that contained around 2 or 3 TB of files. Unfortunately, the customer did NOT put in the contract that the system that contained the files was their property so they were only able to get the files themselves. Those files were moved to a different sub-contractor’s control. The security was compromised so the files had to be quickly moved somewhere else. The company I work for already had SharePoint 2013 so they moved all the files to SharePoint for the customer. Because SharePoint has a 200 GB limit per site (otherwise you have problems), the files before a certain date had to be put into an archive. The archive files do show up on SharePoint but can’t be successfully searched. The newer files were put into a SharePoint site also. The newer files that aren’t archived can be searched, etc. However, search does not work properly for the archived files so any search needs have to be painstakingly done manually, which is quite tedious and time consuming. Because of the sheer size requirements to store all the files and the size limitations of SharePoint, it may not be the best tool to use. However, the customer does NOT want to spend a lot of money so we have to find a way to make SharePoint work. I have been given the task. I have no previous experience whatsoever with SharePoint. We do have a SharePoint Team of people who do. However, they are in a different group within the company and are not very willing to spend a lot of time on this task. Basically, we have to determine what needs to be done and then send a request for them to do it. So they don’t really work as closely with us as I would like. They know how to create and run PowerShell scripts to do things in SharePoint. I have Site Administrator privileges on the development environment so I can do quite a bit if I know what needs to be done and how to do it. I need to know if there is a good way to put the files into SharePoint so that size limitation will not be a problem and all the files can be searched, rather than being forced to archive a majority of the files. There are many groupings and sub-groupings of files. The files also contain metadata but entering that metadata manually would be way too time consuming. I have been tasked with finding the quickest and easiest way to put all the files into SharePoint so they are all as searchable as possible. The technical person who passed this task on to me told me that the only solution he can think of is to create a new SharePoint farm, then divide all the files into many separate site collections of less than 150 GB. However, if the size of a site grows over time it could become larger than 200 GB. I am surprised that SharePoint can’t handle sites that contain more than 200 GB without problems but that’s what I have been told. Before I start down a certain path I need to find out what the best solution to the problem is from somebody who knows enough about SharePoint that can give me some good possible solutions. This task is very high profile so I am under quite a bit of pressure to figure things out and get it done. Any information, suggestions or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.


Because SharePoint has a 200 GB limit per site (otherwise you have problems), the files before a certain date had to be put into an archive.

This hasn't been true for many years. You should read through https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/mt493258%28v=office.16%29.aspx?f=255&MSPPError=-2147217396#ContentDB. Databases of 1TB+ are easy to manage given the correct backup strategies are in place and disk IOPS available.

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  • Thanks, I appreciate your quick feedback lazdoDev and Trevor. I will take a close look at the document. I was told that when the site size got over 200 GB they would have problems. Maybe it's not that the specification is only 200 GB but they found that there were problems when the size got larger than that. I will ask the technical guy that told me that. Also, if there is anyone that has successfully done something similar to what I explained please let me know and any lessons learned that you have that you could share with me would be much appreciated. – Bill Jan 12 '18 at 0:05
  • I've run plenty of Site Collections with >1TB of content. From a SharePoint product perspective, there is no issue in doing so. Your environment may have specific issues hosting larger databases, of course (or your technical person is not up to date on SharePoint). – Trevor Seward Jan 12 '18 at 0:06
  • Also, what is best to use for what I have explained we need to do? Should the files be put in the site as "Content" or "Document Libraries"? I hope that question makes sense. – Bill Jan 12 '18 at 0:40
  • They're documents, so they would go into document libraries. You can use the one included with the site and/or add more. – Trevor Seward Jan 12 '18 at 2:30

Please refer to this article about SharePoint limitations, this will answer your questions:

Software boundaries and limits for SharePoint 2013

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The 200GB mark is a guideline rather than a limit, with the background that databases over 200GB may cause issues with a backup/restore (time-outs) scenarios (so like Trevor said, depends on your backup strategies).

As far as is know crossing the 200GB limit will put the database in a state which will not be supported by Microsoft in case of issues. (This is the recent status i know about)

If you don't require Microsoft support for that specific db, you can put all those files in one db.

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  • First sentence is true, second sentence is wrong. Even databases with more than 4TB are supported. You must fulfill more and more requirements in order to get those size handled. See linked Article "Software boundaries and limits" – MHeld Jan 12 '18 at 13:28

Most of the current answers move around the question "How big can a SharePoint database get?"...

But your problem seems different to me: You want to make some TB of content searchable in SharePoint.

Why not simply putting those files on a file-server and crawling them in SharePoint? This will save lots of hassle regarding database-sizes, library-limits, library-structures, etc. But it also has limitations like no preview with an OfficeOnline-Server and no chance to add metadata to the documents.

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  • When you say "no preview with an OfficeOnline-Server" what exactly do you mean? Thanks for the response btw. That is an option I will definitely look into. – Bill Jan 12 '18 at 21:23
  • Also, I have been told that the files actually contain metadata inside them. Would the crawler make it so if a user searched on a metadata term contained inside the file it would be found? – Bill Jan 12 '18 at 21:25
  • OfficeOnlineServer is an optional feature in SharePoint. Details see here: docs.microsoft.com/en-us/officeonlineserver/…. – MHeld Jan 15 '18 at 10:33
  • Metadata can also be crawled on a file server, but may require additional search-configuration. See here: social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/ie/en-US/… – MHeld Jan 15 '18 at 10:36

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