How to structure lots of client files in Sharepoint

Posted by

Hi all –
We are relatively new to Sharepoint – we had to quickly dump all our files in after a recent merger between 3 companies, and are now trying to dig out and make sense of everything.

One of the issues I’m running into is how to structure our client files. We have 1,700 client folders (each filled with the requisite subfolders and documents all related to that client), and our reseller broke it up into libraries for A, B, C, etc. But the problem is that many of these libraries are well over the 5,000-item threshold, so we’re limited in what we can do with them.

It’s been suggested that we further break these libraries into (Aa-Ae, Af-Am, An-Az, Ba-Be, Bf-Bh, etc.), but that seems to me like we’re going to run into the same problem, and will end up constantly moving files around as we outgrow each subsection of letters.

But by the same token, it seems a little crazy to have 1,700 libraries on a site.

How do companies handle situations like this? Our reseller is no help.
Thank you for any guidance you can provide!

You should consider breaking the structure up into site collections and sub sites in SharePoint. One way to do this is to have all this within one site collection, construct a list of customers as a list within SharePoint, then have one sub site for each customer. Then create a reference between the list and the sub sites for access and search.

Another way would be to break up the types of documents into several site collections, based on their content types. For instance you could have one site collection for all contracts, another for customer communications. This really depends on the scope of data you have. Then you would create a reference between a list of customers to different locations, using a customer key.

You can have up to 100,000 sub site per site collections, but Microsoft recommends that you have the number of sub sites below 2,000 because it could have an affect on performance. An alternative is to have another site collection for inactive/retired customer data.

Then if you need to gather documents of same time across customers, you have use the Content Search. You can also configure the search so t searches specific types of documents and deliver you results based on your criteria.

All in all, you have several options, which can sometimes be confusing in SharePoint 😉

Hope this helps in your SharePoint journey.


Building on the suggestions from Sigurjón, another option would be to create site collections for each of your main customer TYPES, as almost every organization has some sort of logical groupings that customers fall into, assign that as metadata to each customer, then have a site for each customer with 1 or more libraries for the document types related to that customer.

At the end of the day there really isn’t a “wrong” answer per se. It is dependent on how your organization thinks about and uses the content and in what vector the content grows the most, i.e. are you growing customer count more than volume of documents per customer, or more volume of documents per customer than customer count. Though the current purely alpha filing method is probably about as close as you might get to “wrong”.

Hope that helps.

Lorne Rogers Vice-Chair, ISO Trustworthy Content/Document Management President/Senior Management Consultant Aria Consulting Ltd.

Keep in mind that the 5,000 item limit is a limit for views, not storage. I would consider using metadata – term store, choice, and or a look up column to identify clients. Then you can create pre-filtered views for each client. With 1700 clients, it may be a good idea to manage the clients in a list and create a lookup column in your library that pulls from that list. You could then use that list as a directory with links to each customer view. See this link:

Hi: This requires planning and analysis – specifically content analysis or even TRIM. TRIM is a records management system used for managing physical and electronic records. You may need to check a government website for records management standards.

Here is a 5link to a resource on migrating files shares to SharePoint. Focus on the process and requirements.

Hope these help!

These are great ideas, and helps give me options that I didn’t previously have. Thank you everyone for the thoughtful responses!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.