7 Major Limitations in SharePoint Online and How to Overcome them

Topics: Document Management, SharePoint Online, SharePoint Site, SharePoint Hub Sites, LMS, Document Library

Written by Alex K Joseph

What is your opinion about Microsoft SharePoint or Office 365 as a whole? We do not doubt that these services and products are fantastic when it comes to quality and the capabilities they are offering. They are unmatched and out of the world in many areas. Microsoft’s security features, updates, and features are exceptional. However, as most products or technologies, there are some limits or border lines for these services too. They are not drawbacks for sure but having a proper understanding of these limitations or restraints will help you to avoid unnecessary issues and problems in a long time to come. We are about to discuss 7 major limitations in SharePoint Online and how to overcome them with some easy precautions and caution. Let us get started.

1. Number of Items in A Document Library

You can save millions of files and folders in a Microsoft 365 List or Library. When a SharePoint Document Library shows over 5000 items, you might encounter a threshold error. Do not misunderstand this limitation as you can only save 5000 items in a single document library. It just means you can only view 5000 items at a time. Earlier it was difficult to add more than 5000 items but now things changed, thanks to the modern experience, auto indexing, and other SharePoint timely improvements. Performance issues, problems with performing certain actions related to files, and slow library are some of the main issues that will be experienced due to this reason.

How to overcome this issue:

  • It is better to limit the number of files/folders added to a single library to 20-30,000 files.
  • Ensure that you have set up multiple document libraries so that you can balance the number of files stored in each library precisely.

2. 400 Character URL Limit in SharePoint

The 400-character URL limit in SharePoint mostly occurs when users try to migrate from file shares to SharePoint Online. The main reason for this error is when people create folders and subfolders in a document library. This causes the URL path of the content to become lengthier. 400 Character is the URL limit allowed for SharePoint. You will end up with an error message in this case.

How to overcome this issue:

The easiest way to avoid this limitation error is to make Document library names short. It will be better if you can avoid many layers of folders in a document library. This is also the best practice when it comes to managing document libraries efficiently. You can even change the length of the files and folders to ensure that the URL is under the allowed limit.

3. OneDrive Sync Limit

OneDrive sync comes with a limit when it comes to the number of files users can sync. 300,000 files/documents are the limit set for the end-users. Even though this is more of a guideline than a limit, after this point users will encounter problems in syncing documents. As users usually tend to sync thousands of documents across devices, this will pop-up consistently if not handled carefully.

How to overcome this issue:

Microsoft understands its products and services better than anyone, so going with their guidelines is the best way to make the most of each product. Make all users aware of this limit and train them to adhere to these guidelines. Unauthorize syncing in some of the bigger libraries and try to keep the number of files in all synced libraries to 300,000.

4. 256 Character Path Limit in Windows

Another major limitation you might encounter is regarding the 256-character path limit set by Windows. This limitation becomes a problem when users synchronize their document libraries with PC’s and try to change something within the libraries.

How to overcome this issue:

The best way to avoid this error is to avoid syncing libraries. You can also make things favorable by flattening the folder hierarchy in libraries, and by using metadata in SharePoint.


5. 93 Days Threshold of SharePoint Recycle Bin

Do you know that your SharePoint recycle bin can only keep deleted items for up to 93 days? It is not a limitation, but a threshold set by SharePoint by default. Usually, you can restore all items accidentally deleted in SharePoint from the recycle bin but if it's over 93 days since you have originally deleted the file, then it will be gone.

How to overcome this issue:

The best way to avoid any unfortunate situation related to this threshold is to let your team know about this and train them to plan and perform tasks accordingly. It is also a good idea to backup data, and you may even consider a third-party application for that backup process. Considering a well-thought retention policy is also good idea.

6. People Editing a Document Simultaneously

In SharePoint, 99 people can open a document at the same time. However, if more than 10 people are editing the document together, there are more chances for conflicts and thus poor experience gradually. To keep the experience best and for better usability, you shall keep this number in mind.

7. Subsites Limit

You can create up to 2,000 subsites per site. However, Microsoft is recommending its users to create sites and organize them under hub sites. This is suggested as the most productive and efficient way. Even if you are using subsites, make sure the number is limited on each site.


Keep these limitations of SharePoint Online in mind and ensure that you are utilizing the platform the right way. Hope you liked this blog post. Share your feedback and thoughts as comments below.

Have a good day.

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