Teams & Channels


This article outlines the differences between teams and channels on Microsoft Teams.




A team is a collection of people, conversations, files, and tools (all in one place) gathered to get something specific or a project done in your organization. There are 2 types of teams:

Public team Private team

Anyone from the organization can join immediately without an approval from the team owner(s). Visible to everyone at SFU by searching in the Teams.

Only people who have been approved by the team owner(s) can join the team. Team owner(s) and team members can invite people to join.

Example: MS Teams Community of Practice

Example: departmental team, project team, closed special interest group, etc.

Note: All the teams requested via the Request a Team webform are private teams, and they are hidden from the search in Teams. However, you can change your privacy status after the team has been created.



A team is made up of one or more channels. A channel is a space for discussion or conversations within a team, dedicated to a specific topic. It can be either public or private to the members with that team.


Quick example

For example, "Department of Basket Weaving - SFU Teams"  is a private team that has many different channels (e.g., Communications, IT support, Onboarding).

All the conversations, meetings, files, and apps in the "Communications" channel has to do with the topic of communications within the Department of Basket Weaving. This channel is also visible to everyone within the team.

What are the limits in MS Teams (e.g., members, channels, and storage, chat, etc.)?


  • Number of members: 25,000  
  • Number of owners: 100
  • Number of channels: 200 (includes deleted channels)
  • Number of private channels: 30 (includes deleted channels)
  • Number of members in a private channel: 250
  • Storage capacity: 1 TB + 10 GB per user in team
  • Number of teams a user can be a member of: 1000

Note. Deleted channels can be restored within 30 days. During these 30 days, a deleted channel continues to be counted towards the 200 channel or 30 private channel per team limit. After 30 days, a deleted channel and its content are permanently deleted and the channel no longer counts towards the per team limit.

Private Chat

  • Number of people in a private chat: 250
  • Number of people in a video or audio call from chat: 20
  • File storage capacity in a private chat: depends on your remaining OneDrive storage space

For more information, please refer to Microsoft's page on Limits and Specifications for Microsoft Teams.


How are the teams at SFU structured

Here are some suggestions on how you can structure your team(s) at SFU:

Note: If you need any assistance in determining the structure of your team, we recommend consulting your department's IT support points to align with internal processes/procedures (if any) on the team structure.

1. Short-term collaboration space for project, research, or campaign

  • Common channels: Admin, Business Analysis, Project team, Technical, Communication, Planning, Reports, Documents, Safety, and Governance
  • Note: You can consider creating a group chat if the purpose is to use it for a relatively short time (e.g., 2 - 4 weeks), or a channel within an existing team if all members are already a part of a same team.

2. Long-term collaboration space for department, office, or function

  • Common channels:
    • Public: Functions/Projects, Document/Resources, Procedures/Forms/Templates, Announcement, Social/Fun/Chat/Random, Committees, Events, Meeting agendas/Meeting minutes, Reports, Admission, Marketing, IT, and Safety
    • Private: Admin, Leadership, Projects, HR, Finance, Operations


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Article ID: 4010
Sat 7/9/22 9:26 PM
Tue 7/12/22 1:11 PM

Related Services / Offerings (1)

Microsoft Teams (MS Teams) is a virtual collaboration app that brings together Microsoft 365 services (such as Office and OneDrive) to keep you virtually connected to the SFU community from anywhere at any time.