Using a records archive versus managing records in place (SharePoint Server 2010)


Applies to: SharePoint Server 2010

Prior to Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, you managed records by creating a Records Center site to serve as an archive, then copying documents to the archive when they became records. Whether a document was a record or not was determined by whether it lived in the records archive or elsewhere.

In Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 you can manage records in an archive, or you can manage records in the same document repository as active documents. With the Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 in-place approach, when you declare that a document has become a record, the record remains in place, but Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 now manages it as a record. For example, a document might get a different retention policy when it is declared to be a record, or users might not be able to edit it.

A hybrid approach is also possible. For example, you could keep records in place with active documents for two years, and then move records to a records archive when a project is complete.

As you think about whether to manage records in a separate records center or in the same collaboration site in which the documents were created, consider the following questions:

  • Is the governance of the collaboration site appropriate for managing records? Is your industry subject to regulatory requirements that mandate records be separated from active documents? Should the administrator of a collaboration site be trusted to manage a site that contains records? You might want to store records in a site that uses more restricted access than the collaboration site, or in a site that is backed up on a different schedule.

  • How long will the collaboration site be in use? If records will have to be kept for longer than the project is ongoing, choosing an in-place records management strategy means that you will have to maintain the collaboration site even after it is no longer used.

  • Will the project members need frequent access to the documents after the documents have become records? If you use an in-place approach, project members can access documents in the same manner regardless of whether the documents are active or are records.

  • Are records managers in your organization responsible for only records, or are they responsible for all information, regardless of whether it is active or a record? If records managers are responsible only for official records, having a separate records center might be easier for them.

The following table describes differences between what you can do with records in a record center and with records that are managed in-place in a collaboration site. The differences are presented from the point of view of both records managers and employees collaborating on a project team.

Differences between a records archive and in-place records

Factor Records archive In-place records

Managing record retention

The content organizer automatically puts new records in the correct folder in the archive’s file plan, based on metadata.

There may be different policies for records and active documents based on the current content type or location.

Restrict which users can view records

Yes. The archive specifies the permissions for the record.

No. Permissions do not change when a document becomes a record. However, you can restrict which users can edit and delete records.

Ease of locating records (for records managers)

Easier. All records are in one location.

Harder. Records are spread across multiple collaboration sites.

Maintain all document versions as records

The user must explicitly send each version of a document to the archive.

Automatic, assuming versioning is turned on.

Ease of locating information (for team collaborators)

Harder, although a link to the document can be added to the collaboration site when the document becomes a record.


Clutter of collaboration site

Collaboration site contains only active documents.

Collaboration site contains active and inactive documents (records), although you can create views to display only records.

Ability to audit records


Dependent on audit policy of the collaboration site.

Scope of eDiscovery

Active documents and records are searched separately.

The same eDiscovery search includes records and active documents.

Administrative security

A records manager can manage the records archive.

Collaboration site administrators have permission to manage records and active documents.

The following table describes differences between the two records management approaches that might affect how you manage IT resources.

Resource differences between a records archive and in-place records

Factor Records archive In-place records

Number of sites to manage

More sites; that is, there is a separate archive in addition to collaboration sites.

Fewer sites.


Relieves database size pressure on collaboration sites.

Maximum site collection size reached sooner.

Ease of management

Separate site or farm for records.

No additional site provisioning work beyond what is already needed for the sites that have active documents.


Can store records on different storage medium.

Active documents and records stored together.

See Also

Other Resources

Resource Center: What's New in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
Resource Center: Enterprise Content Management in SharePoint Server 2010
Resource Center: Records Management in SharePoint Server 2010