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.