This is the seventh article in the SharePoint Online planning guide for Office 365 for enterprises. It explains the site monitoring and maintenance tasks that site collection administrators and site owners can perform. Regular maintenance can help enhance the user experience on sites and help guarantee that site collections run at peak efficiency.
In this article
Who should read this article?
You should read this article if you are a site collection administrator or a site owner for a SharePoint Online site for Microsoft Office 365 for enterprises. This article contains information about how to monitor storage, maintain permissions, plan lists and libraries, and optimize search.
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Monitor site collection storage
When you sign up to use SharePoint Online your organization and each licensed user is allocated storage space. This storage will be consumed when you create site collections, sites, and subsites, and when users upload documents or create content on those sites. If you start to approach your allocated storage limit, you have three options:
- Move content to another location to free space.
- Delete content or sites to free space.
- Buy more space from Microsoft or your Office 365 partner.
It is important to monitor how much space is being used. In the event that a site exceeds its quota, the SharePoint Online Administrator can allocate more storage to an individual site from the shared pool of allocated storage. If there is no more shared storage remaining in this pool, then your organization will need to purchase more using the Office 365 portal.
For an overview of Storage Quotas at the SharePoint Online Administration level, see Change site collection storage and resource usage quotas. Quota management tasks must be performed by the SharePoint Online Administrator.
For more information about how to plan sites in your site collection, see Step 2: Plan sites and manage users and Governance 101: Best practices for creating and managing team sites.
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Manage user permissions
When the Microsoft Online Services administrator subscribes to SharePoint Online by using the Office 365 portal, the process to migrate users and groups in the company to SharePoint Online begins. After users and groups have been migrated, the administrator designates a primary site collection administrator to manage the site collection. This person is a user who has administrative permissions. At any time after this, the new administrator can start to manage user permissions.
We recommend that site administrators create a permissions strategy that supports the goals for the sites and site collection. Site administrators should then implement and enforce that strategy consistently. If you do not develop a permissions strategy, you may find that permissions management becomes a time-consuming activity that can provoke user frustration and can inhibit the growth and proper use of your sites. It is a good idea to document your organization’s permissions strategy and encourage site users to read and understand it. With suitable guidance and a well-defined process, users understand permissions better, and have access to the information that they must have. For more information about how to create an effective permissions strategy, see Plan your permissions strategy. Also, to aid with future maintenance of permissions, consider using a tool like this Site and Content Security Worksheet, or developing some other method to document the layout and security of your site, including all important uniquely secured sites, lists, or items.
After a permissions strategy is defined, the site collection administrator can assign the users to permission groups in any site in the site collection. It is recommended that you assign permissions to groups rather than directly to individual users because it can be hard to track and manage individual permissions. Managing permissions at the group level is easier for site collection administrators because there is less overhead involved in maintaining the security structure. In addition, the site collection administrator can—and should—specify additional site collection administrators as backup administrators in case the primary administrator is unavailable to manage the site collection.
To modify user or administrator permissions, or to set up groups, click Site Actions, and then Site Settings. Use the options under Users and Permissions.
For more information about how to plan permissions, changing permission levels, or creating SharePoint security groups, see the Permissions management articles in SharePoint Online Help.
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Plan for lists and libraries with many items
When a list or library has a large number of items, you must carefully plan, organize, and account for how data is accessed. By planning, and by using key list and library features such as resource throttles, you can make sure that users can find information quickly, without adversely affecting the performance of the rest of your site. The decisions that you make when you set up a SharePoint site, can deeply impact the performance of the site, especially one that contains lists and libraries with many items.
For more information about how to plan for list and libraries with many items, see Manage lists and libraries with many items. It is very important to understand the requirements and best practices for setting up lists and libraries. We recommend that all site owners and site collection administrators become familiar with these requirements.
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Site Collection audit settings and information management policies
Site Collection Administrators can employ auditing to monitor file-level events. Auditing can help you track which users have taken what actions on the sites, content types, lists, libraries, list items, and library files of site collections. The ability to track information about specific content actions is critical for many business requirements, such as regulatory compliance and records management. As a site collection administrator, you can retrieve the history of actions taken by a particular user and can also retrieve the history of actions taken during a particular date range. For example, you can determine which users edited a specific document and when they did this.
Because these audit logs are collected across the use of the site collection, and stored in the databases, you can choose to automatically trim the audit log or retain it for a specific number of days. The Site Collection Administrator may choose to audit actions involving:
- Documents and Items
- Editing items.
- Checking out or checking in items.
- Moving or copying items to another location in the site.
- Deleting or restoring items.
- Or Lists, Libraries, and Sites
- Editing content types and columns.
- Searching site content.
- Editing users and permissions.
For more information about configuring audit settings or viewing audit reports, see Configure audit settings for a site collection and View audit log reports.
Information management policies
You can define information management policies that establish specific rules for how content is tracked and retained. An information management policy is a set of rules for a specific type of content. Each rule in a policy is a policy feature. For example, an information management policy feature could specify how long a type of content should be retained. Another policy feature could specify what actions on that content should be audited. If you create information policies at the site collection level, they are called site collection policies, and they are available for use across all content types in a site collection, thus helping you enforce consistent content management across sites.
For more information about information management policies and how to configure them and associate them with content types, see Create and apply information management policies.
It should be noted that list owners or list managers can optionally choose not to manage retention through Content Types as part of their Information management policy settings. If they take this action, they will be overriding the policies that were created by the Site Collection Administrator.
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Plan search features to help users find content
Your users are more likely to want to use SharePoint Online when they can easily find the information they need.
How content becomes available in search
The search service is scheduled to crawl SharePoint Online content every five minutes. After an item is added to a SharePoint Online site, there will be a period of time before it is indexed and returned in search results. This amount of time varies based on current user activities. Tasks like site migration, upgrade, and maintenance increase the load on the indexing pipeline. New content items should typically display in search results within an hour.
Improving search results
There are a variety of things you can do as a site owner to improve the user search experience. Some of the content management features discussed in this article, such as content types and managed metadata, can help make content more discoverable to search. You can also perform specific search-related configurations to improve search, such as setting up search scopes, and configuring keywords, and Best Bets. You can also choose to remove specific sites or lists and libraries from search results so that content in these locations does not display in search results. This can be helpful if you want to remove sensitive content or obsolete content from search results.
Search scopes A search scope defines a subset of information in the search index. For example, if you have a site collection with many sites, you could set up a search scope for the Search box on sites that allows users to focus a search on a particular location or set of content.
Typically, search scopes encompass specific topics and content sources that are important and common to users in the organization. For example, you could create a search scope for all items related to a specific project or for all items related to a specific group in the organization such as Finance or Marketing. You can also create a search scope that includes several other scopes.
Keywords and Best Bets Another way you can help users find content is by using keywords and Best Bets. You can highlight important information in search results for site users by using keywords and Best Bets. When a user enters a pre-configured keyword term into the search box, Best Bets are marked by a yellow star and are displayed prominently at the top of the core search results page. Keywords can be used in queries from the Search box.
Keywords and Best Bets are stored in their own database tables, so they become effective immediately. By defining commonly-used search terms as keywords you can provide a standard glossary of names, processes, and concepts that are part of the "common knowledge" shared by members of an organization.
For example, you want to point newly hired employees to a site containing information about how to obtain training on tools and processes. You could define the keyword “training” or the names of your internal tools with the URL of the site that contains the information. Each time new employees search for the name of the tool or for “training” the correct Web site would appear as a Best Bet at the top of search results.
Controlling what content is searchable
If there are specific sites, lists, or libraries that contain content you want to exclude from search results you can do this by removing these locations from search. For more information about controlling what content is searchable, see the article Enable content to be searchable.
For more information about the other search features discussed here, see the Search articles in SharePoint Online Help. For more information about how to plan and use scopes, or how to use keywords and Best Bets, see Search articles in SharePoint Online Help.
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Plan for new releases and scheduled maintenance
Periodically, new versions of SharePoint become available. Organizations have a window of up to 12 months following a product’s release to move to the new version, and the SharePoint Online data center team performs the system upgrade. Notification will be provided, together with relevant information for end-users about the new release. You may have to upgrade client software. This includes Web browsers and Microsoft Office.
Scheduled maintenance windows are the time during which administrators will deploy changes that may affect the customer-facing services in the production environment. Changes occur during windows approximately every other weekend, generally on Saturdays from 16:00–20:00 Pacific Time (UTC-8). You should be aware of this window and may have to adapt your business practices to accommodate the schedule.
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Plan to capture process knowledge
As site users work with sites and site contents, their skills and knowledge will grow. However, that growing knowledge can remain isolated with individual people. By using blogs and wikis to capture and share this knowledge as it evolves, you can help transfer the learning throughout the organization.
For example, a site might use a wiki to collect information about a company project, or about how to work with a specialized customer relationship management system.
For more information about blogs, see Create a blog.
For more information about wikis, see Create and edit a wiki.
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Previous article in this planning guide: Step 6: Train and support users
Main planning guide article: SharePoint Online planning guide for Office 365 for enterprises