Sunday, August 12, 2012

SharePoint Workspace limits

Although it is not a recommended option you could use SharePoint as a file storage repository and have those files sync’ed to a local desktop using SharePoint Workspace. There are of course limitation around this, however as I have found out recently, determining these limits conclusively has proved to be very, very difficult. What follows, I believe, is the most reliable information that I have found about those limits.

 

To achieve the maximum amount of data that can be sync’ed to a local desktop you should firstly use SharePoint Workspace 2010 with Service Pack 1 installed. When you do you can go into the backstage area of the SharePoint Workspace 2010 Launchbar and select Info. There you will see:

 

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So the very first limit you need to be aware of is that the total number of files you can sync in SharePoint Workspace 2010 across all workspaces is 10,000.

 

Now if you click the Learn about File Limits button you receive the following:

 

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which doesn’t really tell you much about the file limits now does it?

 

You will probably find out there on the Internet different information about the maximum local storage of SharePoint Workspace being 2GB. However, does that mean 2GB in total or 2GB per synchronize workspace? Thus, if I have a SharePoint document library that has 3GB of files, can I synchronize all that in one workspace? (i.e. is the 2GB a hard limit or a ‘recommended’ limit) Or do I have to split that library into 2 x 1.5GB SharePoint sites and sync these as different workspaces? Or, because the total file limit exceeds 2GB will I be able to sync at all?

 

I can tell you that I have spent many, many hours trawling trawling for definitive answer and I think I have finally found it:

 

SharePoint Workspace cannot synchronize any files that are larger than 1 GB. Additionally, SharePoint Workspace will stop synchronizing any shared folder that exceeds the following limits: More than 5000 files or a set of files that exceeds 2 GB in total size.

 

I found this at:

 

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepoint-workspace-help/shared-folder-restrictions-and-warnings-HA010283263.aspx

 

This seems to mean that the total I can synchronize in any SharePoint Workspace is 2GB. Thus, from my scenario above, I would need to split my 3GB of files into 2 x 1.5GB SharePoint sites and sync these independently with SharePoint Workspace.

 

Thus, in this case,

 

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The SharePoint Workspace shared folders (which are each linked to an independent SharePoint site) could contain no more than 5,000 files and 2GB in size each. Thus, I think I could store at a maximum:

Office 365 Partners – 5,000 files and 2GB data

Cloud – 5,000 files and 2GB data

Customers – 5,000 files and 2GB data

WSSOPS – 5,000 files and 2GB data

giving me a total of, across all SharePoint Workspace 2010 shared folders:

Total = 20,000 files and 8GB data

However, my understanding that SharePoint Workspace has a total limit of 10,000 files across all shared folders as mentioned above (which is below the 20,000 limit I calculated above). Although from what I have read this is not a ‘hard’ limit, just a limit beyond which you may start seeing recurring errors.

This to me seems to be as conclusive as I can find and I of course acknowledge that SharePoint Workspace was never designed for this capacity. It is aimed at taking small components of SharePoint offline rather than being a total offline sync tool or backup facility. However, I am certainly getting more and more questions about doing exactly this with SharePoint Online.

 

*** Update ***

 

So the idea that SharePoint Workspace is limited to 2GB because of a ‘shared folder’ limitation is incorrect it turns out. A ‘shared folder’ in SharePoint Workspace actually doesn’t refer to a SharePoint site all!

 

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A ‘shared folder’ is actually one you set up with SharePoint Workspace on your desktop and share that directly with other users!

 

So back to the original question. If I have a SharePoint site with > 5GB of data including document libraries of > 2GB are there any issues with sync’ing?

 

It turns out that there appear to be NO LIMITS! I ended up working with Microsoft support and this is what they found:

 

“I have had one more tests, I expanded the site to 5GB (which contains a document library in 2 GB size) and sync it so SharePoint workspace. It is still successful.”

 

“However, currently I haven’t found any article mentioned the size limitation for SharePoint workspace (has file number limitation). And based on my test, a SharePoint site exceeds 3GB(even 5GB) can be successfully synced even though there is a document library exceeding 2 GB. Which indicates 3GB (or 5GB) is not the size limitation for a SharePoint workspace. However, it may depends on the client\server performance of specific environment. You may have a test on your environment to get an accurate result.”

 

It now seems that if you sync SharePoint Workspace directly to a SharePoint site there is NO LIMIT on how large that site can be and for it to successfully sync locally.

 

How mind blowing is that? I always though SharePoint Workspace had a hard upper limit, but no it appears not! With that in mind what a fantastic cloud based sync’ing tool it makes! Even though I have read that you SHOULDN’T use SharePoint Workspace as a backup tool for SharePoint it certainly appears that you can based on the above testing.

 

Now, I get the impression that even though the tests indicate there are no limits I’ll bet that if you do go to these extremes and get issues Microsoft will say that SharePoint Workspace isn’t recommended to be used in that manner. From my tests, it certainly appears it can be, however buyer beware I guess as I can’t find it documented anywhere as to what the actual limits are.

 

If you are looking to achieve such large offline sync’ing of data with SharePoint Workspace you need to keep in mind a few things:

 

- SharePoint Workspace is not free, it is an add on product that comes with Office 2010 Professional Plus but can be purchased independently.

- Has a number of limitations around the maximum number of files and data that can be sync’ed locally. This appears to be 10,000 files in total across all SharePoint Workspaces, 5,000 files and 2GB of data per Workspace.

- Individual files > 1GB can’t be synchronize but SharePoint Online already has a current restriction of 250MB per files so in Office 365 250MB will be the limit per individual file.

- There are other third party solution that can be used to achieve this functionality.

 

So you can if you really must be beware of the current limitations around SharePoint Workspace. SharePoint was designed as a tool to be used ONLINE rather than merely being something that you sync locally and use OFFLINE. However, I get the feeling that going forward we will see more of this offline ability but for now beware the limitations.