SharePoint Terminology

Confused by Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) terminology? Here is an attempt to straighten it out.

WSS v. 3 Term

Old Term




A farm is the highest-level scope for a WSS deployment.

A farm is an installation of one of more Web servers and back-end servers.

Each farm has one and only one configuration DB.

Web application

Virtual server


A web application is an IIS web site extended with WSS.

A web application is capable of hosting many site collections.

Site collection



The administration of a site collection can be delegated to e.g. a business division, which can create as many sites as they want.

A site collection is an island in terms of security.

A site collection is stored in one specific content DB.

A site collection is the best unit of backup and restore, and moving from development to test to production.

When a site collection is created, a top-level site is always created.




Sites can be created in a hierarchical manner.

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