What is SharePoint Sprawl?


SharePoint Sprawl explains a situation where an excessive number of unattended or rarely used SharePoint sites and content, farm. A perusal of such sites will have outdated information or unknown ownership. SharePoint sprawl happens when an organization implements content management in the enterprise without rethinking it’s usage or plan structure.

Generally, a SharePoint site in an organization consists of sites, lists and document libraries, which can get out of control if suitable governance is not applied.

Why SharePoint sprawl is necessary

  • A site having several non-managed sub-sites will complicate the process of identifying content, by screening through every site. This will lead to more resources as a result of storage of duplicate documents in multiple sites. For example, project documents and templates uploaded in every project site.
  • A migration to future versions of SharePoint becomes a difficult task when duplicate sites or unused sites and content exist in the source platform.

How to avoid SharePoint Sprawl

  • Ensure duplicate sites are not created – Apply proper governance in the SharePoint farm to restrict permission to create new sites. Create an approval process, requesting user for justification of their site request, and there-by confirm none of the existing sites can be utilized.
  • Implement a strong governance plan – Governance can apply permission based on organization rules to create, manage and archive SharePoint sites. This will enforce a set of guidelines while creating new projects and allocation of team members permissions.

SharePoint Files – What happens to old/unused files

In many organizations, SharePoint is used as a source for file share. Migration phase in SharePoint is when documents in SharePoint will grow, if not managed properly. Once all documents from a source environment is migrated to target; those files which are never relevant in newer environment will become idle. During migration all unused file share sources need to be replaced.

SharePoint Sprawl – Implementations in SharePoint 2013

Organize documents in SharePoint and configure into multiple views, tagged with metadata. Each view in the library is considered as a virtual folder displaying content relevant to the view. With SharePoint 2013 expanded enterprise search capability and new features of SQL Server 2008 R2, there is a way forward for SharePoint to store content virtually in CMS.

The new feature Remote Blob Storage(RBS) in SQL Server 2008 R2 enables the rerouting of original file types to peripheral storage (save into Windows file system) rather than SQL database storage. When these large volume files are routed peripheral storage via RBS, they appear to be in SharePoint for user’s view (in a way, secured and administered from SharePoint) but they reside beside the database, and it is a Windows file system. The SQL Server will have reference to the file in physical location, hence make the process cheaper and more efficient than SQL storage. This will lead to efficient best practices with regard to content management and put an end to SharePoint sprawl.


  • Sreejith B works as Technical Lead with Trigent Software. Sreejith is a senior IT professional with over 12 years experience in Microsoft Technologies and web development tools using SharePoint and advanced frameworks such as AngularJS, Bootstrap, jQuery in product design and development. Sreejith comes with extensive experience in all stages of s software development life cycle including design, development and implementation.