Data containers

Data can be classified as structured data (records) and unstructured data (files). SharePoint has a container type for both types of data:

  • Structured data > Lists
  • Unstructured data > Document libraries

Lists and document libraries are placed in a container called a site.

Sites are placed in a container called a tenant.

Below is a visual impressions of the data storage hierarchy.

A container is not a formal SharePoint term but a term I use to explain the data storage hierarchy,

There is more to say about containers:

  • A site is in fact the top-level site in a container called a site-collection. Besides the top-level site, (many levels of) subsites are possible too. Using subsites is not advised anymore nowadays, so we only speak of a site. There are still locations where the term site-collection is used though so knowing this additional layer in the data storage hierarchy is useful.
  • Files can also be added as an attachment to a record (list item). It provides much less functionalities as files in a document library but in a way, a record can be seen as a container for unstructured data. There is a list setting to disable list item attachments.
  • There are more types of libraries besides a document library, like a page library. In the sites used for storing data, only lists and document libraries should be used. Allowing other content, like information about the business solution in pages in a page library, violates the least privilege access security setup.


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