How big is a big SharePoint content database?

February 15, 2008

It is curious how different can be the answers to this question depending on who you talk to. Yesterday we heard from a customer who keeps all SharePoint databases under 20GB. And just the day before that, during Doug’s SharePoint recovery webcast, there was a question from an attendee about the best practice to back up a 10TB (!) SharePoint content database… As far as I can tell this question was from someone still planning their deployment.

These are, of course, the edge cases. In reality, most environments I’ve seen keep SharePoint content databases within 60-80GB boundaries, sometimes up to 120GB per database. This follows along the lines with the Performance Recommendations for Storage Planning and Monitoring paper published by the SharePoint Products and Technologies team last December suggests 100GB as the best practice for most WSS v3 and MOSS 2007 deployments.

However, there is no hard limit and in theory nothing stops you from putting much more data in a single database. The single largest content database I have seen in a production deployment so far was around 350GB and growing, with a VSS-based backup solution in place.

Deciding on what database size will work for your environment should be a part of the Service Level Agreement exercise: even if you are not planning to have a formal SLA, you have to understand what level of performance and availability your users will accept. And after that look for the tools and guidances how to achieve these.

One great place to start is the TechNet page called Plan for performance and capacity for MOSS 2007. This page has links to a number of tools, articles, and whitepapers that will help you build the environment that meets your needs. Another link it is missing (but I think will be updated to include soon!) is the recently released System Center Capacity Planner 2007 that includes SharePoint support.

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