storageAll my SharePoint life I have been fighting with storage space. Not only because of limitations in storage capacity and because full sites can be slow and hard to back-up and restore, but also because old content clutters sites and search results. That is why I wrote “It is time for intranet spring cleaning” last year.


This is how I remove clutter, also known as ROT: Redundant, Outdated or Trivial content, from my site collections. Any other suggestions are very welcome!

1. Check Storage Space Allocation on a regular basis.

This will give you the information needed for the next items.

2. Create (personal) monitor views for the largest document libraries and lists.

My “Monitor view” shows Name, Created, Modified, Modified By, Size and Version. It is sorted on Size Descending and has no folders.
This gives me an idea of the largest items, items with many versions, if this library or list is still actively used, and by whom.

3. Challenge sites that have not been changed for a certain period.

Sometimes a site owner has forgotten that he or she owns this site; sometimes they do not know they have inherited it from their predecessor.
Perhaps the complete site can be removed. Perhaps parts can be deleted, compressed into a ZIP-file and re-uploaded, moved to an online archive or written on DVD.

Clearly mark all archived content as “Archived” (and preferably with an review date), to manage expectations.

The “certain period” varies from 3 to 12 months, I have learned from others.

4. Check and challenge versioning.

Most lists and libraries are fine with no or limited versions.
I can imagine you want a few versions in case you make a mistake, or want to see some history, but unlimited versioning is only necessary in very few cases. I can not imagine that anyone will ever go back 43 versions, especially when there are no version comments!

In general, 5 or 10 major versions will be sufficient.
If you have a review process, and/or use approval on your list or library, minor versions may be required.
Be aware that you can not limit the number of minor versions: you can only specify the number of major versions that you allow minor versions on. I often set that to “1′ so if you publish a major version, all previous drafts will be removed.

Version settings
My preferred version settings when major and minor versions need to be enabled. Please read the tekst behind the 2nd checkbox carefully!

If you see that people are mainly using minor versions, ask them why. Perhaps they do not understand how versioning works or they have not agreed on a proper process within the team.

Documents that have not been edited for some time, and archived documents, seldom need their versions. Unfortunately there is no way to quickly remove them. If you limit or disable versioning in the list or library, the excess versions are only removed when you edit the item. But a workflow will do it, or you can do it manually. It is very rewarding to remove 500 MB of versions from one document!

5. Move content to another site collection.

This is not an easy solution. Users will resent that their content is going to live elsewhere, and that all links and favorites will change. On the other hand, you can promise them more room to grow and less nagging to clean up if they move :-).
The least painful moves are

  • using the new site collection as an archive location
  • using it for new initiatives

6. Empty your recycle bin prematurely.

I do not think this is a good practice, but it is a useful emergency measure.

Do you have other tips & tricks to free up storage space? Please share!


This will be published next time!

Image courtesy of kconnors at

Title inspired by book/movie “How to lose friends & alienate people“.