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Interesting question just came up from a client: when creating multiple sites from a template, are there any disadvantage to using the "Copy Site" feature via the "Manage Content and Structure" tool? (As opposed to using Site Templates).

Historically, we would use Site Templates/Solutions (that technically couldn't have the Publishing Feature activated) to create them. Then after the site was created, you had to manually activate the publishing feature and configure the page (which can be a pain).

The only disadvantages I can think of are:

  • You need to have the Publishing feature enabled / paid version (not a disadvantage for us)
  • You don't get prompted to break permissions and configure Site Groups
  • You need higher permissions to use the Manage Content and Structure tool
  • What version of SharePoint (this should be a mandatory tag)? – teylyn Jan 13 '14 at 7:06
  • Currently 2010, moving to 2013 soon. – PeterX Jan 13 '14 at 7:12
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Instead of site templates I think its better to use WebTemplates.

Some the advantages of web templates are:

  • Add extra functionality to the Create site functionality
  • Can be used in SharePoint online
  • Upgradable and easy/easier to maintain
  • Publishing sites are supported

Copy site can be a good solution if you need to create a new site once or twice but when a site is created many times and for exmple in multiple farms I think its better to have one clean template that is maintain in for example TFS with version support etc.

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I can think of a couple of points to consider:

  • Site templates are limited to 50mb
  • Reusing a template will mark any content as created by the "system account"
  • Copy from the Manage Content and structure page will only allow you to copy in the same site collection.

Id recommend using powershell & export-spweb where any of the above points are limiting you.

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