Thursday, 20 August 2009

Web Application, Site Collection and Sub-Site

SharePoint Terminologies and Hierarchy

Following diagram illustrates the SharePoint hierarchy:


Web Application, Site Collection and Sub-Site

The following points are to be considered when deciding on an extranet site structure and usage of SharePoint Components.

· Administration Overhead

· Scalability

· Upgrade Scope

· Backup/Restore

· Security

· Search Settings

· Audit/IRM Settings

· Feature Scope

· Recycle Bin

· Usage Reporting

· Branding

· Navigation

· Content Rollup and Aggregation

· Content Type / Site Column Scope



Backup and Restore

· Full fidelity backups are only possible at the site collection level

· If a sub-site needs to be restored then the entire site collection must be restored

· 3rd party solutions offer full fidelity recovery at more granular levels


· Site Collections allow security groups and permissions to be isolated from other site collections

· Management is more complex with site collections

· Difficult to see what access a user has across site collections

· No OOTB way to synchronize settings across site collections

· Usage of Site collections can reduce the need to break security inheritance

· Site Collections can be used to overcome SharePoint group limitations (Cannot go over 2000 users or AD groups in a single ACL)

Feature Scope

· Features can be scoped to a Site Collection or Web (or Farm or Web Application)

· You can prevent access to certain functionality by using site collections

o Some Features must be scoped to a site collection

o You might have to activate a Feature thereby (potentially) making functionality available to all users/contributors/designers of a site


· Search Scopes are defined at the site collection level (You can create shared scopes via the SSP but they must be “activated” at each site collection)

· Best bets and keywords are site collection scoped (Use a single search centre)

· Settings must be manually (or programmatically) synchronized across site collections


The single most critical reason for using multiple site collections is scalability

· Limit content databases to 100GB (50GB recommended, 100GB maximum)

· If you must go over 100GB then use only 1 site collection in the content database

· You will encounter performance issues and possibly deadlock conditions (if over 100GB)

· Split content approaching 100GB in a site collection into a new site collection in a separate content database (STSADM)

· Site collections cannot live across content databases

· Web applications can have multiple content databases attached to them


· Usage reports are scoped at the site collection

· There is no out of the box mechanism to get cross site collection usage reports

o SSP administrators can get search query reports which span site collections

· Many 3rd party products produce much more useful/sophisticated reports for cross site collection reporting


· Master pages and CSS can be used to enforce a consistent branding experience

· Use Themes for as much as possible so that the application/system pages will be branded

· Use Feature Stapling to automatically apply the branding. This provides a seamless experience for the end-user

Content Types / Site Columns

  • Features could be used to deploy to consistent Content Type and Site Columns across multiple Site Collections
  • It is important that the Content Type ID remains the same – creation via the browser does not allow setting the ID across site collections

Cross Site Configuration

  • Solution Accelerator from MSFT (
  • The tool automates the process of deploying site settings in all or selected sites in a server farm:
    • Applying Master Pages across a SharePoint server farm
    • Setting up Web Titles for all or selected site collections across the farm
    • Applying audit control settings to all or selected sites
    • Adding advanced settings such as “Allow content type management” to all types of lists
    • Adding a new Expiration Policy at the site collection level
    • Adding a new Expiration Policy to content types, lists, and documents

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