SharePoint Site Collection Best Practices – Lessons From the Field

Site CollectionWe have been conducting some migration analysis and SharePoint planning for a couple of our clients and as part of it we did an inventory on their site collection structure.  We found two contrasting site collection deployment strategies:

  • Client 1 has 4 site collections in their SharePoint 2007 farm, each with more than 500 GB of documents.  Each site collection was stored in its own content database.
  • Client 2 has created site collections for every small team, department, etc.  Anyone who wanted a site essentially got their own site collection.  They have 400 site collections for ~600 GB of content and about ~2500 sites.

A Site Collection in SharePoint is perhaps the most important logical boundary in the farm.  However, when we perform assessments on SharePoint programs for our clients, we find that the Site Collection is very often abused or misused to the point where it has a direct impact on the effectiveness of the platform.  People don’

I have put together a presentation that is now available on slideshare that outlines recommendations on the use of the Site Collection based on industry best practices and our own direct experience. 

  • Daniel


    You covered facts well apart from the statement that there is no such thing as a site collection template – of course there is! And you can provision a ‘no template site’ and have the users upload their own templates which they have saved as WSPs.

    Overall I think that there is a lot of value to having many site collections – one per project, one per department, etc. This way you avoid accidental data spills due to one person at the root making a change which impacts sites down a the leaf level. You can manage security groups cleanly. You can use site holds with eDiscovery. Troubleshooting is easier and moving sites to pre-production simpler, migrations are more easy too. You can set quotas that are just for that one team and sandbox points (if you are using them).

    The site collection is a unit of governance and in my experience it makes the most sense to have the team who manage that content own their site collection.

    With OneDrive for Business everyone really does get their own site collection of course!


    • cwoodill

      Hi Daniel:

      When you refer to a site collection template, its really the site template of the root site that is created within the site collection, e.g. a team site, a blog site, a “no site”, etc. However, this doesn’t replicate all the various settings embedded into the site collection itself and you cannot easily package these up into a template. This has an impact in terms of governance when rolling out a large number of site collections especially if those settings have been customized to suit your governance purposes (for example, setting up custom roles).

      I’ve seen this done a few ways, but in my experience with a lot of organizations is providing each business unit or project team with their own site collection in many cases is overkill – it would be safer and easier to provide them a new site within an existing site collection and not allow the business unit to change some of the key governance business rules that are stored within the site collection settings. For example, I’m not sure I want my business unit turning auditing on or off, removing content types, turning on or off features, etc. but it depends on the governance model and how sophisticated and trained the owners of the site collection are at managing these decisions.