SharePoint Online Limitations



This document details the restrictions involved with SharePoint Online and Office 365. As the technology is ever evolving, there may be improvements to the platform which negate these limitations or work arounds discovered. Every effort is made to ensure information in this article is precise and up to date although there may be anomalies which will initiate a process of updates for it.

Figures for SharePoint Online for enterprises




Storage (pooled)

10 gigabytes (GB) base customer storage plus 500 megabytes (MB) per enterprise user.


Storage per Kiosk Worker

Zero (0). Licensed Kiosk Workers do not bring additional storage allocation.


Maximum number of Active Directory user objects

Up to 500,000 AD user objects


Additional storage (per GB per month); no minimum purchase.

$0.20 USD/GB/month.


Site collection storage quotas

Up to 100 gigabytes (GB) per site collection.


My Site storage allocation (does not count against tenant’s overall storage pool)

500 megabytes (MB) of personal storage per My Site (once provisioned).


Site collections (#) per tenant

Up to 300 (non-My Site site collections).


Total storage per tenant

Up to 25 terabytes (TB) per tenant.


File upload limit

250 megabytes (MB) per file.




Up to 0.5 million AD objects;

2 GB document size limit, default is 50mb


  1. Sandboxed Solutions
    1. Sandboxed solutions are the only form of custom coding supported by SharePoint Online, and can only be deployed at a site collection level scope.
    2. No full trust solutions can be deployed.
    3. Sandboxed solutions can only be deployed at Site collection level not farm level.
    4. Managed code is executed in a separate worker process to full trust code. It is monitored for the resources it consumes via different categories (e.g. number of exceptions thrown and CPU cycles) and stored in resource counters which are reset daily. If one of the resource counter categories for a sandboxed solution reaches its daily quota, sandboxed solutions are disabled within that site collection. So the offending solution will be ‘disabled’. Therefore considerable effort must be put into deciding on customisations by means of sandboxed solutions. Too many solutions could take up unnecessary resources and too many calls for those solutions could also consume resources which reduce the very custom functionality you are trying to implement.
    5. There is no way to increase Quotas as it is in on premise.
    6. Limited Server Object model- Significant classes and methods that are not available:
  2. IIS Limitations
    1. No access to web.config file or any other IIS changeable element. To make changes in IIS you need to have full access to SharePoint’s web site directory in IIS as well as the full SharePoint object model on the server. This level of access is not available in SharePoint Online. Currently the only ways around this are to use a client-side calls in JavaScript/ JQuery (ECMAScript) or Silverlight, or wrap it in an Azure-hosted WCF endpoint and call it using SharePoint Online’s Business Connectivity Services.
  3. Private Site Collections
    1. Private site collections cannot have their own domain names (only for Enterprise) and cannot map a private site collection to a public domain.
    2. Custom managed paths are not allowed in SharePoint Online
  4. Mysites
    1. Mysite collection master page (root.master) cannot be edited using SharePoint Designer, it actually can be changed but the change is not supported by Microsoft and might cause the site to break.
    2. Feature stapling is not supported as of yet as it is a Farm level feature??? Not sure if this is true but Microsoft do not seem to want to confirm or refute this. It is only available in dedicated online Implementations, not on multi tenancy.
    3. It is possible to brand the My Site Host and Individual user My Sites with Custom Sandbox Solutions, but this is not supported by Microsoft. It is important to note that when a user provisions their My Site for the first time, it would take default branding based on the OOTB My Site template. The user must then upload Sandbox solutions to apply branding to their already created My Sites. Individual end-users can use SharePoint Designer to update branding on case by case basis as well. This should be avoided as it is not supported
    4. The Microsoft supported way is to use SharePoint Designer to make branding changes or accept the standard themes available.
  5. Branding
    1. Branding can be done directly via SharePoint Designer or packaged using a Visual Studio project. You start with an empty SharePoint project and add the relevant elements including a feature receiver to apply branding during a feature activated event and retract it during the feature deactivated event.
    2. The master page of a public facing website cannot be changed using SharePoint Designer. Editing of the public website cannot be done using SPD either. All customisations must be done using the site designer tool.
    3. Master pages for SharePoint online are not set up for fixed width sites or layouts.
  6. Document Management
    1. No support for records Center. Only In-line Records management is supported.
    2. Mail enabled document libraries are not supported and will not be supported because of the security and performance risks to multi tenancy implementations.
    3. PDF Documents cannot be opened in the browser. SharePoint online does not have the option to set Browser File Handling = Permissive, thus allowing PDF documents to be viewed in the browser. Microsoft did release a post about this:, which seems to indicate that you can open PDF files directly in Adobe Reader, (Not the browser) – and the PDF file will remain connected to SharePoint Online. You can also edit and save your changes to SharePoint Online from the desktop. There is a workaround I have found but not personally tested myself:
    4. No support for Word Automation Services, inaccessible through Central Administration
  7. Search
    1. No support for FAST Search.
    2. Indexing other content sources from SharePoint Online is also unsupported because the Search Service Application in SharePoint Online has a limited configurable feature set. Crawling content source occurs circa every hour to refresh index. /indexing multiple content sources is also not supported.
    3. Custom IFilters not supported (PDF is the only external IFilter supported).
    4. No federated Search or contextual search.
    5. No query suggestions, ‘Did you mean?’ etc.
    6. Search config elements not available include: Advanced Content Processing, Turnable relevance, Bi indexing, SharePoint 2010 Search Connector framework, relevance tuning, rich web indexing, Enterprise scale search, Windows 7 search, Similar Results, Thumbnails and previews (FAST Search), visual best bets, advanced sorting.
  8. Insights
    1. No support for Business Intelligence Center, Chart Web Parts, Data Connection Library, PerformancePoint Services:
  9. Authentication
    1. 3 types of authentication with Microsoft Online Id (Office 365 Accounts), Single Sign On with Active Directory Credentials via ADFS (Federated Services), or a Windows Live ID.
    2. Anonymous users for public websites.
    3. External Sharing Identities- This Site Collection Level Feature enables you to invite external users to view, share, and collaborate on sites. Microsoft supports ‘invited’ external users sign in using MS Online ID services like Windows Live ID including,, or, Once external user receive their invitation from SharePoint Online, they have to login to the SPO either using Hotmail or MS Online Service ID. External users can use their business email address as long as their email user name associated with Live ID system.
  10. Backups
    1. No control over backups without a service request being sent to Microsoft.
  11. Blocked File Types
    1. With SharePoint online, you cannot add additional blocked file types.
  12. Data Connections
    1. No Data connection library available in SharePoint online.
  13. HIVE 14 Folder
    1. No access to folder except through Service Request which may be rejected.
  14. Site Definitions
    1. These are not supported within the Cloud. Instead Web templates are to be used. These can be packaged in a sandboxed solution and deployed at site collection level.
    2. Microsoft suggests creating a web template by saving a site close to the one you are trying to create as a template and then importing it into Visual Studio and adding the elements needed.
    3. Another blogger suggests it’s easier to convert any existing site definition to a web template simply by copying onet.xml and creating other required elements manually.
  15. Workflows
    1. Microsoft suggests using the workflow capabilities of SharePoint Designer which have been very significant for more purposes in my experience. If these do not suffice, then workflows can be packaged in a sandboxed solution, as well as custom activities for SharePoint Designer itself. These are deployed at site collection level.
    2. I have found that the workflow creation process in SharePoint Designer is excellent at covering most business processes, but if not there is a way to create your workflow in SharePoint designer and then export it into a wsp, which can then be imported into Visual Studio to add the extra functionality as required, although this must be a sandboxed solution.



    Info for Developers:


    SharePoint online Developer Guide

    SharePoint Online Developer Guide for Developers: