The Information Worker

June 18, 2009

SharePoint Content Database Sizing

Filed under: SharePoint Technology,Sharing Minds — adamclark @ 1:48 pm

Over the past few days I’ve had some questions from a couple of different clients around the right process to define SharePoint content database capacity planning.  This is quite an interesting topic and there is a lot of different theories out there  as to the right method to use.  Having planned several large and small SharePoint implementations I thought I might throw a few comments into the ring around capacity planning for SharePoint sites and how and when to worry about content database size.

 First up, in my view I don’t think that there is any one method that fits all SharePoint builds and site collection deployments, and second there are no hard and fast limits to (most) content database size related items.  In my view each SharePoint solution should be looked at in regards to a number of factors including:

 –          Disaster Recovery Tools,  One of the most contentious issues I find is that the choice of tool that will be used for backing up the SharePoint database will affect the recommended content database size.  For example, If your SharePoint site is only using the Out of the Box (OOTB) SharePoint Backup/Restore tool then I don’t recommend that you exceed 15Gb in any content database.  In the past I have found timeout and restore issues using the OOTB tools.  If your using a 3rd Party tool for backup/restore (i.e. Backup Exec, AVEPoint, CommVault, etc) I don’t see an issue on this front.

–          Type of Content being stored,  To a lesser extent I have found in the past that the type of content your storing will affect how big you want to plan your SharePoint content databases.  If your mainly storing list based information or lots of little pieces of information on your SharePoint site then you will likely want to have smaller content databases, thereby allowing content to be indexed and retrieved faster.  SO at the other end of the extreme I hold the view that if your databases is holding large files (i.e. couple of MB or larger) that having a large content database (up into the range of 50 – 100Gb) is allowable.  Of course there are also a number of factors to cover in regards to SQL config and the like that may affect the maximum size you want your content database to be, so use this as a starting point only!

–          Server Specifications, One of the big ones to consider is the specifications of the server that is hosting the content databases.  Is your SharePoint implementation on a single server or are you managing your SharePoint sites on a farm with a dedicated SQL Server (in most cases I hope your using the latter).  I take the view that larger databases will require different underlying SQL configurations to those of smaller databases.  I find the key is to ensure that organisations know their stance on SQL configurations and that they are open to talk both immediate and longer term SQL goals.

–          Information Management Policies / Governance, Now in my view the theories on how to implement governance are as broad as the amount of people working in the SharePoint field,  We’re still trying to get to some type of common thinking in this space and everyone will have their view.  However, in my view it is important to defined how your going to manage the information lifecycle of information within your SharePoint sites, know when your going to archive information, when your going to delete information, know how many versions of information your going to keep, etc.  Knowing / defining this will provide you with a way to limit the size of your content databases.   This is actually a REALLY big and COMPLEX area so i’ll leave it here.  But!!! Take a look at this area and always plan to do this work, you’ll never regret it.

 So at a very broad and high level there is my view on the way to plan and look at the right way to approach SharePoint Content Database Sizing,  hopefully while note giving you the hard and fast response you need on “What’s the Maximum size of my content database?” these items can help you on your way to defining these things.

 There are also a number of other great blog entries out there that can provide further assistance.  In some cases they don’t always follow the same path, however always good a reference material:

 –          http://blogs.msdn.com/joelo/archive/2007/01/31/tips-on-site-collection-sizing.aspx (This is the one that I find most clients reference and a good place to start).

–          http://www.intranetjournal.com/articles/200804/ij_04_07_08a.html (Some good information and views, though I have some different thoughts on some content).

–          http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb961988.aspx (Overview on a Microsoft Capacity Planing tool)

–          http://blogs.msdn.com/sharepoint/archive/2007/12/17/hardware-recommendations-and-sccp-sharepoint-capacity-planning-tool-beta-models.aspx (The system Centre Capacity Planning tool, I use this a lot of the time to begin the capacity planning process).

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