SharePoint sprawl

This definition is part of our Essential Guide: SharePoint integration and implementation best practices
Contributor(s): Lauren Horwitz

SharePoint sprawl is a situation in which an excessive number of abandoned or rarely used Microsoft SharePoint sites exist within an organization. Often, the sites contain outdated information and ownership is unclear.

Sprawl occurs when end users leave the company, create a new site to categorize content that could have been stored in an existing site, or categorize content poorly so it's difficult to find later on. SharePoint sprawl not only complicates the tasks of traditional enterprise information management, it also poses risks for e-discovery and other regulatory issues. Sprawl can interfere with proper retention schedules for content and policies that determine how long the organization needs to hold onto before it can be destroyed. Sprawl also makes it difficult for content to be found in the event of a legal hold, or seizure. 

Good information governance policies and training on best practices can help an organization deal with SharePoint sprawl. Companies need to map out tagging procedures and train employees to prevent SharePoint sites from multiplying and ensure that content is categorized appropriately. 

This was last updated in June 2016

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