Data Everywhere: SharePoint List or SQL Server

I came across questions in few forums asking what is the best source of storing data; SharePoint list or SQL Server. But you may think there are other options such as excel, access, etc.
Typically end users creating SharePoint lists and libraries with any columns or data structures as they like with no solid process behind it when capturing values. You have Access databases which basically allows us to scale up the application and be able to create linked table structures with management of how to move forward with continuity and support of the Access database then you have SQL Server database management system the industry standard managed by Database Administrators which will rely on meeting business requirements to contain as database solution.

The other perspective to consider is the data volumes that you’ll be holding in each of these database environments and that coverage can range from Excel (65000 rows) to SharePoint lists (50 million items) but it warns at about 3000 item limit.  The security and compliance context for data has to be taken into account since the users will only want to focus on gaining value from their data.

The importance of data access – how the data is accessed? who will need to access data? and understand the implications should that data be recorded to online storage platforms (sharing, reporting, etc.) and also the situations where the mobility of workforce dealing with data part of the business process if you use of the SharePoint workflows, Excel services, Access services.

Finally with regards to control and flexibility the corporate environment may limit the use of Access software or any other database tools whereby the end-user would only be faced with the office applications such as Excel, SharePoint List or custom database solutions. Of course there is also the options of cloud and third-party online data storage tools.

I hope the above points help you to consider where to store the data!

Chirag is an Independent Consultant at Patel Consulting, BCS Chartered IT Professional, TOGAF Certified Architect, Microsoft Certified Solution Expert (Productivity, Data Management and Analytics) and Microsoft Service Adoption specialist based in London, UK with more than 20 years of industry experience. He works with a wide variety of clients in many sectors, designing and implementing business collaboration, data and information management solutions and services based on SharePoint and Office 365 technologies to create business value for both themselves and their customers, including UK Microsoft Gold Partners with deployment, upgrade and migration services delivery. Chirag is an active SharePoint community participant, frequent speaker at local and international events including SharePoint Saturdays (London, Cambridge, Brussels, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, UK, EMEA, India) and Collab365. In 2011, for his valuable contributions to Microsoft TechNet forums he received a Microsoft Community Contributor Award. In his little spare time he enjoys cycling, cricket and participating in Charity bike rides and Duathlons. You can follow Chirag on Twitter at @techChirag and find him online at

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