SharePoint 2010: to RBS or not to RBS

… that’s the question.

Joel Olsen recently wrote a blog post about the pros and cons of using Remote Blob Storage (RBS) (formerly know as External Blob Storage – EBS). This post also contains a bunch of links to various resources from Microsoft and other vendors of RBS technology.

The bottom line is, that using RBS can greatly improve performance when working with large documents in SharePoint, while the actual data-size is much lower than storing those documents in the SharePoint content-database.

On the other side RBS is would be the wrong choice, when mostly small documents or listdata is stored in SharePoint, because in this case the overhead of moving the data out of SQL-server and into the filestream is too costly. Back in 2006 Microsoft already published a paper called “To BLOB or Not To BLOB: Large Object Storage in a Database or a Filesystem”, which concludes that files smaller than 256 KB would be best stored in the database, while files larger than 1 MB are most efficiently sored in the filesystem. Everything in between “depends”.


  1. While to RBS or not to RBS something that is really important is knowing the limitations of SharePoint RBS. Even if you want to use RBS you have to face alot of limitations some of them are as under:

    – FileStream Provider only offers a basic level of garbage collection.
    – RBS FileStream Provider doesn’t support multiple storage tiers to help you optimize your storage cost (see my blog on SharePoint Archiving with multiple storage tiers
    – No compression or encryption options are afforded.
    – RBS FileStream Provider is only supported in SharePoint 2010.
    – Much more…

    So before using the RBS FileStream Provider, you should be very careful in analyzing the costs of its limitations. However different thirdparty tools can be used for this purpose one of them is known as StorageEdge which can facilitate you alot more then the simple RBS provider of SharePoint.

    You can externalize BLOB content on any SAN, NAS and even Cloud Storage.

    – StorageEdge RBS FileStream Providers also allows you to apply filters to the externalized content so you don’t need to externalize everything.
    – Encryption and Compression are also supported.
    – It supports throttling of various activities reducing their impact on performance in peak times.
    – It also provides a rich administration interface from within SharePoint.
    – Organize the externalized content in personalized folder structure.
    – File names are available in externalized content. This feature is not supported in RBS FileStream Provider. You don’t know the actual name of the externalized file on disk as it is always a GUID.

    Thus StorageEdge ensures that the burden of managing BLOBs is effectively off-loaded from the SQL Server.

Leave a Comment.