Saving Files Externally

SharePoint stores documents in its SQL Server database in Binary Large Object (BLOB) format.  Whilst this may now be the recommended way forward for storing digital media files to take advantage of the new features in 2010, this is not recommended for high volume document management implementations.  Storing documents as BLOBs in the DB consumes a considerable amount of a SQL Server’s CPU and memory resources and requires more expensive storage.  Storing files externally means that they can be placed on less expensive storage and can be backed up independently of the database.  Typically files will be stored on SAN or NAS and over the long term can even be migrated to near line (e.g. Optical) or off line (e.g. Tape) storage.  SharePoint 2010 does come with the new RBS (Remote Blob Storage) feature (which is far better than its previous incarnations) but the RBS connector to save documents to the file system is only available for the cut down single server installation of SharePoint which has a 4GB DB limit.  For all other implementations, and that is the majority, you will have to contact a third party RBS provider.

StoragePoint, which has been available as an add on for SharePoint, is a cost effective alternative. StoragePoint removes SQL Server from the BLOB workflow, meaning a BLOB is never created. What remains is a high performance SharePoint environment that becomes simple to admister and maintain.  All files are stored on the file system and can benefit from cheaper storage.  What this means is that you can

  • Develop a more flexible and streamlined disaster recovery plan
  • Improve the upload, retrieval, and management of large files
  • Enforce regulatory compliance where needed
  • Save money by moving content to less expensive tiers of storage

One of the main criticisms that other ECM vendors have levelled at SharePoint over the years has been its inability to store documents externally to the database.  StoragePoint has actually been available for quite some time and is relatively low cost


About rearcardoor

Chairman and founder of ImageFast Ltd, a leading UK ECM consultancy business and Microsoft Gold Partner. Over 20 years experience delivering successful ECM projects utilising scanning, data capture, document management, records management, workflow, BPM and SharePoint.
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