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Can a Site Collection contain another Site Collection?

If you have an answer, please give also an authoritative source of information.

Diagram from docs.microsoft.com

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The answer is simple. No, by design.

SharePoint is not designed to have site collections under another one.

Even if on-premise it “can” be possible by using a tricky way with managed path which is not recommended at all.

As authoritative documentation, I think at the same page you took the picture here: Plan Site and Site Collection in SharePoint Server

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Site Collection can not contain another Site Collection.

SharePoint Site Collection, just as the name implies, is a collection of SharePoint Sites. Each site collection contains a single top-level site and subsites below it.

You can have multiple site collections within a single web application, a single site collection can contain a number of subsites within itself.

References:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint/sites/sites-and-site-collections-overview

https://sharepointmaven.com/sites-vs-site-collections-in-sharepoint/

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