17 April 2008

What do I gain or lose by using SharePoint site collections rather than sub sites/webs?

Terry, asked in the forums what you gain and/or lose if you architect your sites around site collections rather than sub sites/webs. Here’s my take on this issue: If you use site collections you lose:
  1. Aggregation/rollups. Components such as the Content Query Web Part that can perform rollups of lists across entire site collections and thus sub sites, cannot roll up across multiple site collections. This can generally be offset by the use of the Data View Web Part, but you need SharePoint Designer to use that web part since it is not available through the UI.
  2. Peer site references. You can define columns to source their data from peer sites within the site collection, but not across site collections.
If you use site collections, you gain:
  1. Strict security isolation. For example, the creation of site security groups for each sub site, makes those site security groups visible to any administrator of any peer sub web within the site collection. In strict security context cases, the names of these groups, which usually involve the site name, could reveal the existence of some site that you might not want everyone to be aware of. It just helps to isolate security to the site level.
  2. Better backup granularization. Doing site collection backups can be much faster and more efficient when sites are broken into many site collections rather than one.
  3. Better stale site management. SharePoint’s stale site management features are, as you might have guessed, tied to site collections. This means that if you have a site collection that contains 10 sites of which 9 are never used but one gets some usage, then that site collection, and the 90% stale content, never gets flagged for review.
  4. Better quota management. Quotas can be assigned at the site collection level. If the site collection contains multiple sub webs, it becomes harder to determine which site(s) are most active and consuming the majority of the allotted quota.


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