External List Limitations in SharePoint 2010/2013

In this article, I will explore

The External List Limitations in SharePoint 2013 /2010

Before we getting started, please let me first raise a major issue of External List.

If the number of retrieving items is more than 2000 items, the list view will not be rendered and you will get this error

Database Connector has throttled the response. The response from database contains more than ‘2000’ rows. The maximum number of rows that can be read through Database Connector is ‘2000’. The limit can be changed via the ‘Set-SPBusinessDataCatalogThrottleConfig’ cmdlet.

Note: In this case, any solution or webpart read data from external list will not working properlly. you will face a performance issue and it may be stuck to render!

To get the BCS Throttle

Get-SPBusinessDataCatalogThrottleConfig -Scope Database -ThrottleType Items -ServiceApplicationProxy (Get-SPServiceApplicationProxy | where {$_.TypeName -eq ('Business Data Connectivity Service Application Proxy')})


Fortunately, you can exceed the default max limit (2.000 items) using Set-SPBusinessDataCatalogThrottleConfig cmdlet

$BCSProxy = Get-SPBusinessDataCatalogThrottleConfig -Scope Database -ThrottleType Items -ServiceApplicationProxy (Get-SPServiceApplicationProxy | where {$_.TypeName -eq ('Business Data Connectivity Service Application Proxy')})
$BCSProxy | Set-SPBusinessDataCatalogThrottleConfig -Maximum 1000000 -Default 50000

But unfortunately,

  • Exceeding the default max size is not recommended based on Microsoft support reply. Moreover,
  • The export option will work only for 2000 items.
  • You may still face a performance issue specifically if you increase the Item limit in List View setting. (I tried to set Item limit to 300 for each page and the list stuck in the second navigation)

So it’s heavily recommended to use Filter Parameter Configuration for large data to filter the returned data during configuring the ECT in the Read List Operation.

Filter Parmater Configuration

External List limitations in SharePoint 2010

  • Datasheet view is not available
  • Export to Excel option is not available
  • Workflows cannot be configured for External Lists
    • Unfortunately, as you can see you cannot actually run a workflow on an external list. You neither have the option to define any workflows nor can you actually start one. External List = No Workflows!

External List Limit in SharePoint No workflows

  • Cannot create Information Management Policies (IRM) (barcodes,  auditing, retention or labels)
  • No version or version history
    • You cannot enable the version so there is no version history for an External List.
  • No Datasheet view, No Inline Editing is not available


  • No Rating Widget.
    • You cannot rate any items in an external list.
  • Can’t create Visio Diagrams.
  • Open with Access/Open with Project is not supported
  • There is not REST access via ListData.svc to External Lists.
  • All WCF services are not available.
  • There are not Lookups fields.
    • Unfortunately,  the only thing that you can do a lookup on in an external list is on the ID column, anything else and you are out of luck.
  • The Send To operations is not available.
  • Events Receivers are not supported.
  • LINQ does not support external lists
  • No Item Level Permissions
  • No item or field level validation or Formula supported
  • Document templates are not supported.
  • Alerts are not supported.
  • Attachments will not be available.
  • Additional data connections in InfoPath 2010 list forms not supported.
  • U2U CAML Query builder doesn’t work!.
  • No Check In / Checks Out options.
  • Drafts of items are not supported.
  • No, Write support for the BLOB.
  • Metadata-based navigation is not supported.
  • No RSS Feeds.

Improvements in External List SharePoint 2013 

  • Supports OData.
  • Export to Excel option.
  • Alert Option.
  • Event Receiver on external lists
  • Support for SharePoint Apps.
  • Sorting external lists.
  • Data Source Filtering.

See also 

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