SharePoint Online file and item limits: Size, quantity, nested folders, and more

I am often asked in trainings and speaking engagements about limits when storing files and items in SharePoint. Some organizations wanting to switch from shared drives to SharePoint are concerned about how many nested folders they have, while others hear mixed advice as to whether folders should be used at all. In this post, I’ll share some good-to-know facts and frequently asked questions regarding limits in SharePoint Online lists and libraries.

What is my entire site’s maximum allowed storage?

That’s up to your administrators. By default, your site can use as much space as your organization has. Learn more here.

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How many items can I have in a list?

30 million items

What is the file size limit for a file attached to a list item?

250 MB

What is the file size limit for a file stored in a library?

250 GB (this includes files uploaded via Teams, SharePoint libraries, OneDrive, and Yammer)

How many documents can I have in a library?

30 million files and folders

How many levels deep can I go with nested folders?

There’s no known limit to the number of folders (though you may read otherwise if you’re looking at older, outdated guidance on the subject since this has changed over time). It used to be you could only go so far before your URL became too long to function correctly. But since SharePoint uses relative IDs now instead of absolute URLs, you can nest as far as you need to. Best practice would be to minimize your levels of nesting, of course, and to use metadata/columns instead of folders for fluid organization.

I recently wanted to test this answer (Dec 2021) and easily nested 30 levels of folders without a problem. The content in those folders is also still searchable (which you may also hear otherwise in outdated material and guidance).

Should I use folders at all?

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to document storage and organization. Best practice, though, leans towards highest flexibility which we get from using metadata/column values in library views instead of folder structures. Folders limit us to a single organization structure known best to its creator, whereas with library views, you can have many different views of the same information that suit different users better (i.e. a manager vs employee view, or views filtered to specific time periods or geolocations).

Are there blocked file types?

Recent improvements to SharePoint Online have made it so that there are no known file type limitations in SharePoint. If you’re using SharePoint 2016 or earlier, though, check out this resource for more information.

Are there any character restrictions for file and folder names?

Your file and folder names cannot contain leading or trailing spaces, or any of the following characters: ” * : < > ? / \ |

Why isn’t my large file showing up in SharePoint search results?

SharePoint only accesses the first 150 MB of a document’s metadata and contents for the search crawl service that presents results to you in search. If you have a large file, your search query may be looking for content beyond the initial 150 MB.

SharePoint also stops parsing an item’s contents after 2 million characters. So even if your file is less than 150 MB, it may have too many characters to be crawled. It can still be stored and accessed in SharePoint, just not searchable beyond the first 2 million characters.

How many files with unique permissions can I share?

You can share up to 50,000 files with unique permissions per folder. Once (if) you reach 50,000 in a single folder shared with unique permissions, create a second folder parallel or higher in structure/placement to the original folder (not nested within it) or reconsider your sharing approach to see if there’s a more efficient way to do it with standardized permissions.

What other questions do you have regarding SharePoint limits?


Find even more information regarding limits in SharePoint Online at the following links where I verified much of this post’s material:

2 Replies to “SharePoint Online file and item limits: Size, quantity, nested folders, and more”

  1. Great article that cuts straight to some of the many questions I have. To confirm though, ampersand is not on your list of banned characters in file names – is that a change in Sharepoint online?

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