Handling large lists with SharePoint on premises

If you have spent much time working with SharePoint, you know that once a group of users likes it to store information in libraries or Lists, you can certainly tell.

Ultimately what happens is you get an email (or call, or service ticket) one day that says “Hey we are getting some kind of error that says we have exceeded the list view threshold…”. No problem, you think, I’ll just go into central admin and raise the threshold above 5000 and that should fix that.

Well, it does fix the issue, but only until that threshold gets crossed again a week/month/year later.

And the story repeats over and over again until everything is slow and everyone hates SharePoint because its so slow… am I right???

What I’d like to recommend today is a method I have used many times before that solves this problem and hopefully teachers your users a more efficient way to store their content in SharePoint.

For this example, lets say I have a list with 30,000+ items in it.

I see after looking at the content in this list that we have about 5-6 year’s worth of information in this list.

And that there is the kicker. The solution I want to recommend in this case is that you take your content from this list of too many items and break it into several smaller lists by year.

Now this structure is much more manageable and it also allows you as an admin to go into central admin and lower that threshold to something that wont cause SharePoint to move as slow as the day at work before you get ready to go on vacation (Anyone ever experienced that as well?).

Probably the easiest way to accomplish this would be to use a third party tool that your admin group might already have. There are bunches of them and you can read more about it here:


If you are more developery and want to try and tackle the task using PowerShell, you can have at it, but your mileage may vary. Especially when dealing with item level permissions, notifications, and workflows (beware and double check for these).

Also you can do things like set indexes on columns and other strategies like Metadata and such that you can do to also help with scenarios like this, but those are topics that could be their own posts in the future.

So going forward, please I beg you don’t just increase that view threshold and leave it, you will eventually have to come back and deal with the consequences. It brings to mind something about an ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure or something along those lines I’ve heard before…

Thanks for reading and I hope this helps prevent any future pains in SharePoint!

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