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Microsoft Expands Office 365 Service Limits

Microsoft announced Office 365 improvements on Wednesday, including improved auditing plus the expansion of some service limitations.

The highlight perhaps is the ability to upload files of up to 10GB in size for SharePoint Team Sites, OneDrive for Business and Office 365 Groups. That file upload limit has been bumped up from a previous 2-GB file size.

Currently, 2GB is the file upload limit for SharePoint Server 2013. The emerging SharePoint Server 2016 product, which is based on the SharePoint Online service, already supports 10-GB file uploads.

Other Service Changes
Microsoft also indicated that it is increasing the default storage size for its SharePoint Online, Office 365 Groups and Office 365 Video services. It's now "1TB plus 0.5GB per user." Previously, the default storage size was "10GB," Microsoft's announcement explained.

This particular detail may seem a bit confusing because of Microsoft's recent back-and-forth announcements with regard to the storage limits of its OneDrive consumer service, as well as its OneDrive for Business commercial service. Microsoft had offered "unlimited" storage for its paid OneDrive subscribers at one point. Later, with a policy change made in December, Microsoft just permitted unlimited storage to certain business, education and government subscription plans. In addition, those so-called "unlimited storage" OneDrive subscribers just got 5TB of individual storage by default. Organizations have to request getting more storage, if wanted. Apparently, nothing's changed with regard to that December OneDrive announcement.

For those looking for overall guidance on the service limits of SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business, see this Office support page.

SharePoint Search Limits
Microsoft also provided details about SharePoint Server search indexing limits, specifically for organizations using "cloud hybrid search." The limit announced on Wednesday is "one million items from on-premises SharePoint per each 1TB of pooled storage." It's not clear what the old limit was. Cloud hybrid search is kind of a new feature from Microsoft at this point, having been announced at the Ignite conference back in May.

Additional search indexing storage can be bought, if needed, "on a per-gigabyte (GB), per-month basis," according to Microsoft's announcement.

Those organizations using pure cloud search services from Microsoft apparently don't bear such costs or limits. "Items indexed in SharePoint Online are already covered within a customer's Office 365 investment," Microsoft's announcement explained.

Update 2/19: A Microsoft spokesperson clarified that "the cloud hybrid search quota model will ship with SharePoint Server 2016, and it will be listed on the SharePoint hybrid search page."

Audit Improvements
On the auditing and reporting side, Microsoft indicated it's rolling out previously described user tracking capabilities that are centralized in the Office 365 Compliance Center. These capabilities extend across SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, Azure Active Directory and Exchange Online services.

"We've now started to roll out some of these capabilities in the reports section of the Office 365 Compliance Center, including auditing and reporting on user and admin activities logged from SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business, and the ability to view activities in Azure Active Directory (the directory service for Office 365) and Exchange Online," Microsoft's announcement explained.

However, organizations must be using the Exchange Online service to get access to these auditing and reporting capabilities, the announcement added.

Microsoft expanded the user tracking capabilities that it rolled out in July. File and folder activities performed by users can be tracked, as well as sharing activities. Mark Kashman, a senior product manager at Microsoft for SharePoint, indicated in a Twitter post that viewing reports on user file activities is a "new" capability.

Update 2/19: In response to a question, a Microsoft spokesperson indicated that the user interface for audits was improved, and Microsoft's APIs used for management activity hit general availability status:

This week we announced the availability of the re-architected reports complete with a new, more modern UI that addressed some customer feedback about the intuitiveness of the previous UI. We also announced the GA of the Office 365 Management Activity API, which previewed in July.

Other audit enhancements will be arriving in Q2. IT pros will be able to see information about the "number of active users, total number of files and total storage consumed as well as drill into OneDrive usage for individual users," Microsoft promised.

Other Improvements
Office 365 portals got improved. Microsoft added a new "Recent Sites" page. It improved an existing "Recommended Sites" page by adding Office Graph information to it.

Microsoft improved an e-mail notification feature associated with SharePoint Online. The new process, explained in this support article, is designed to stop notifications from going into spam folders.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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