SharePoint Online Limits – The Infamous 5,000 File Limitation

This blog post was originally published on July 27, 2020 and updated on June 10, 2022. 

SharePoint vs FileCloud

This article talks about various SharePoint limitations and how they can be a challenge for enterprises using SharePoint. There are limits to how many files and folders you can view within team folders, limits on how many files and folders you can store, limits on the number of files you can sync, and much more. All such SharePoint limitations can force enterprises to look for alternatives.

SharePoint’s Infamous 5,000 Item Limit

A SharePoint list can hold up to 30 million items and a library can hold up to 30 million files and folders. However, the list view is limited to 5,000 items through the Large List Resource Throttling feature. Items include files and folders.

  • SharePoint Library is equivalent to FileCloud’s “Team Folders”
  • In SharePoint, you cannot view more than 5,000 items within a Library/Team Folder (unlike FileCloud, which has no limit).
  • Enterprises often easily exceed 5,000+ files, in which case SharePoint will not display all these files/ folders

sharepoint limitations

In practice, enterprises can easily exceed more than 5,000 files and folders within team folders, so the SharePoint item limit can become a significant issue. Microsoft does offer some support to work with this throttling feature.

  • For Server versions of SharePoint, network administrators can implement a Daily Time Window that removes the limits. In doing so, admins can run large queries and other data-intensive operations.
  • The administrator can also choose to raise the limit if appropriate, but this is not recommended by Microsoft because it can impact performance for users.

However, Microsoft also acknowledges the extent of limitations – there is an entire page dedicated to the different limitations and restrictions within SharePoint and OneDrive.

FileCloud doesn’t include such limitations, and you can display all files and folders in a single view.


SharePoint’s Sync Limits

  • You can sync only up to 2,500 items in a SharePoint library (Team Folders) at a time.
  • This limit includes folders as well as files in the SharePoint Library.
  • Microsoft recommends not syncing more than 300,000 files across all libraries.

In practice, enterprise team folders often easily exceed these limits. FileCloud, on the other hand, does not impose any limits within the sync client.

sharepoint limits
FileCloud Sync Client Benefits

  • No item/file/folder limits through FileCloud sync app
  • Use Selective Sync to sync only the files and folders you need, to save local disk space
  • Get offline access to network folders
  • Automatically schedule folder backups

SharePoint’s Complicated Guest User Experience

Share Files With Guest Users in SharePoint Using the Traditional Library

  1. Enable guest access and external sharing
  2. Enable Guest Access for Office 365 Groups
  3. Invite guest users to Office 365 groups
  4. Guest users now need to setup MS accounts

Only after so many steps, can guest users can access files.

Share Files with Guest Users in SharePoint Using the Modern Library

  • Confirm you have enabled the modern library
  • Right-click the folder or file you want to share and click “Share”
  • In the Link Settings dialog box, select “Specific People”
  • Type the email of the desired recipient(s) and click “Send”

Steps for Recipient to Complete to Gain Access to Shared Files/Folders:

  • Open the email notification and click the link of the shared file/folder
  • In the Request Verification Code dialog box, click “Send Code”
  • Open the new email and enter the code within 15 minutes. Click “Verify”

Additional Guest Users Complications within SharePoint

  • Most users have personal and corporate Microsoft accounts. This means they have to switch back and forth every time they have to access files as a guest user, making the process terribly tedious and user-unfriendly
  • Guests may have to set up multiple accounts or verify their identity for each shared link to access files
  • Overall, users have rated that they would prefer sharing files via email over setting up guest accounts.

Share Files with Guest Users in FileCloud

FileCloud makes it easy to share and collaborate on files with external users by inviting guest users in a single-step process

  • Invite guest user via email

That’s it. If a user does not already have a FileCloud account, a guest account will be created for them automatically when they access the shared file or folder. It doesn’t cost anything extra for the sender, since FileCloud provides unlimited, free guest accounts. For additional security, you can password protect the share as well.

For public shares, a FileCloud account is not required. You can enable anyone with a link to view the shared file or folder, you can set a password, and you can even set an expiration date or download limits!


SharePoint’s Permission Inheritance Issues

What is “Permission Inheritance”?

In SharePoint, child files and folders automatically inherit permission levels from their parent folder/site.

Breaking Permission Inheritance

To manage individual files/folders, users have to change permissions and break permission inheritance.

Permission Inheritance Limitation

If your SharePoint Library has over 100,000 items, you cannot break the permissions inheritance, nor can you re-inherit permissions. You can break inheritance on individual items within the library, list, folder, or file, though there is a maximum limit on unique permissions.

Long Processing Time

Database operations on library items can process limited items in one request. Operations that exceed the 2,500 item limit can significantly impact system performance and take a long time to process, restricting your ability to work with the machine or system until the sync is completed.

permission inheritance

In practice, enterprise file permissions can easily exceed the limits set by SharePoint, and having limits on setting permissions on important documents is not ideal. This is why FileCloud doesn’t set such limits on granular permissions for any file.


SharePoint vs FileCloud

As part of a head-to-head feature comparison, there are several instances where SharePoint falls short.

SharePoint Online (Premium) vs FileCloud Enterprise Online

  • SharePoint Online does not include Role-Based Access Controls (RBAC); FileCloud Enterprise Online does.
  • FileCloud Enterprise Online can integrate with Google Apps like Gmail, Docs, Sheets, and Slides.
  • SharePoint limits uploads to 250 GB and does not support large file sharing.
  • FileCloud Enterprise Online’s intuitive granular permissions offer flexibility when it comes to sharing parent and child folders.

Similar limitations can be seen if you compare SharePoint and FileCloud’s server plans. Even comparing against FileCloud’s standard server plan, SharePoint still comes up short.

SharePoint Server (Premium) vs FileCloud Enterprise Server

  • SharePoint Server storage is limited; once you reach the end of your quota, you must buy more; FileCloud Enterprise Server offers unlimited storage.
  • FileCloud integrations include Microsoft 365, Google Apps, WebDAV, and APIs for full control over your content.
  • SharePoint Server does not include access to High-Availability (HA) Architecture, which can impact latency, performance, and disaster recovery.
  • FileCloud Enterprise Server is compatible with Microsoft, Mac, and Linux operating systems; with SharePoint, there is no Linux support.

More SharePoint Limitations

SharePoint Library Item Limits

A maximum limit of 30 million items/ files and folders can be stored in SharePoint Library, which is easily exceeded by large enterprises,

Unique permissions for items

SharePoint’s recommended general item limit is 2,500, a very small amount that can easily be exceeded in practice, causing errors.

SharePoint file size limit

Maximum file size of 250 GB, which can again be easily exceeded in practice, especially by law, design, architecture, and construction firms.

Moving files in a single operation

The total file size must be no more than 100 GB, with no more than 30,000 files processed in a single operation. Each file must be less than 15 GB. Again, this can be very limiting for enterprises.

All these limitations can create serious challenges for enterprise teams in collaborating and can hamper productivity. FileCloud offers a superior Content Collaboration Platform (CCP) with no such limits, along with comprehensive features and security that provide robust ROI.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the limitations of SharePoint?

A library can contain up to 30 million files and folders. However, if it has more than 100,000 items, you are limited in the changes you can make to permissions. For file upload limits, SharePoint Online allows up to 250 GB per file and 250 MB for file attachments.

When should you not use SharePoint?

You should not use SharePoint if you require high levels of document organization or if you are looking for a tool you can quickly use with little training. SharePoint has issues of poor document visibility and navigation problems. Files are easily lost with more complex folder structures. Also, it is hard to learn for beginners.

Does SharePoint have a character limit?

The character limit for SharePoint Server is 400 characters for all file and path names. If you go over the limit, the system will give you an error message. One way to avoid this is to use a character counting tool. These are available for free online.

What is the storage limit for SharePoint Online?

SharePoint is included in Microsoft 365 Business Basic, Business Standard, or Business Premium plans. The storage limit is 1 TB, plus 10 GB per license. Microsoft recommends uploading fewer than 300,000 files for best performance. The total storage limit is 25 TB, with a user cap of 300.

What is the difference between OneDrive and SharePoint?

Compared to OneDrive, SharePoint goes beyond file storage and organization. OneDrive is simply a file management system, whereas SharePoint includes dashboards, CMS, and collaboration tools. These tools provide a more comprehensive content management experience.

How is SharePoint Online Storage calculated?

SharePoint Online calculates storage based on how many licenses you have, starting with 1 TB and an additional 10 GB per license. If you have a 100-license subscription, then you would have 2 TB of storage total: 1 TB plus 10 GB times 100 users.

How do I bulk upload to SharePoint?

You can bulk upload to SharePoint by clicking and dragging the selected files/folders to your SharePoint Library (modern view only). For the traditional library, select “Upload” at the top of the library, click “Add a Document”, then select your desired files and folders.