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Protect Your SharePoint Storage: Set Quotas

Protect Your SharePoint Storage: Set Quotas

The vast majority of SharePoint implementations don’t use quotas--perhaps because, first and foremost, administrators misinterpret what quotas are meant to do.

When I discuss SharePoint administration at events, a question I always ask to attendees is: How many of you have quotas on your team site collections? Typically, about five percent of attendees raise their hands.  Five percent!  That means the rest of us are exposing our storage—unnecessarily—to risk.  Risk that is increased when you start using SharePoint 2013.  So this week, our focus is on a SharePoint fundamental: Quotas.

SharePoint Conferences Down Under

As regular readers will know, I spent last week in Sydney, which is one of my favorite cities in the world.  This was the first time, though, that I had visited during glorious weather and now it’s even more my favorite city in the world.  Oz SharePoint customers, bring me down under!

The Australian SharePoint Conference was a big success, but nothing prepared me for what Debbie Ireland and her fearless team at Share The Point had arranged in Auckland. The New Zealand SharePoint Conference was jam packed with enthusiastic attendees, great speakers, and a diverse range of vendors.  My SharePoint Governance Master Class workshops in both cities went very well, with folks from a diverse range of corporate, government, and academic organizations, large and small, representing both business and IT.


Unfortunately, while in Sydney, I managed to come down with a really nasty respiratory bug that flattened me and took away my voice.  After struggling through the full day Master Class, a keynote, and one of my sessions, my body couldn’t take any more and—for the first time in my career—I had to cancel a session and fly home early to recuperate.

So the good news is I’m home on Maui, for four weeks—the first time in three-and-a-half years that has happened.  The bad news is that I’m crazy sick and was supposed to be adventuring in New Zealand.

Anyway, that long story is supposed to set up a transition to talk about protecting yourself.  I did my best not to shake people’s hands in Auckland, so as not to get them sick (I wasn’t being anti-social)—to help protect them from me.  (In my hazy head, that was going to be a better transition than it turned out to be.) Let’s just move on to the tech topic: Quotas.


Quotas are a familiar concept: a storage limit.  Nobody I’ve met doesn’t know what they do.   Everybody knows that SharePoint has quotas—you see it in the UI when you create a site collection. Unfortunately, there are two or three problems with our understanding of SharePoint quotas.

It bothers me that the vast majority of SharePoint implementations don’t even use quotas. 

I think that is because, first and foremost, administrators misinterpret what they’re meant to do.  If you think quotas are only about “limiting user storage,” they might not seem important to you. You might think, “There’s no reason to limit user storage because my users aren’t going to store that much data in SharePoint.”

But no.  Quotas are a governance control to support service management—specifically storage management.  They are there to protect the integrity of the service.  By default, there is no quota on a site collection which means the site collection can grow without governed bounds. 

The question I ask is: What’s preventing a user from uploading an entire disk drive, or iTunes collection, to a team site, accidentally or intentionally? (“I want to back up my music!”)  And with SharePoint 2013 supporting drag-and-drop, even your Mac users on Firefox can upload crazy amounts of data to your farm.  Is your storage ready for that kind of “hit”? 

You’ve got to protect your storage from users overloading it with their icky-ness (there’s that transition!).  Please configure quotas on your sites.  Even if it’s a big one (whatever “big” means to you—maybe 100GB?).  Set one!!! 

You can always change it later.  This is just creating a governed boundary for the health of your database tier.

You can use the Windows PowerShell cmdlet


with the -QuotaTemplate parameter, to assign a quota template (by name or GUID) to a site collection. 

So, this homework assignment of setting quotas could be as easy as creating a quota template with a storage limit of 100GB, then using Get-SPSite to iterate through all site collections, piping them to Set-SPSite to assign the quota template.

The second misunderstanding about quotas that I encounter is that a few folks still think that quotas can be set on the website level.  They can’t.  Quotas are configured at the site collection scope. 

So if you have two teams in one site collection, and you’ve set a quota on the site collection, it’s possible for one team to eat up the storage, preventing the other team from adding the content they require. 

This is just one of many reasons why each collaborative workload—department, team, project, or function—is generally best supported by its own site collection.  Remember, also, that the storage of versions and Recycle Bin contents counts towards the limit set by the quota.

The third misunderstanding is that if you change a quota template, it does not update the storage limit of existing site collections.  Unfortunately, the out-of-box behavior of SharePoint is that the quota template applies storage limits to a site collection, but is not linked to the site collection. 

If you update a quota template, you must reapply the template to existing site collections, which again can be done with the Set-SPSite cmdlet with the -QuotaTemplate parameter—just like you used to apply the template the first time.

So don’t let your storage get flattened by users’ icky-ness.  Protect your storage.  Go apply quotas now.  Here’s to the health of your storage!

For more information about managing quotas, see these resources on TechNet:

Create, edit, and delete quota templates


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