Preparing for a File Share to SharePoint Migration

Preparing for a File Share to SharePoint Migration

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We've already written about the reasons why you should migrate from a file server to SharePoint. The move would enhance your employees’ collaborative abilities, and enable greater productivity, which will, in turn, increase your business profitability. In case you missed it:

A recap on the reasons to switch:

  • Much greater search functionality
  • Complete access, always
  • Version history and backup
  • Check files in and out to avoid confusion and conflict
  • Access control and security

Today we’re focusing on how to prepare your company’s file share content for a migration to SharePoint. We’ll share some best practice tips so you can be in the best position to start taking advantage of your new document management system as soon as possible.

Don't fear the file share migration to SharePoint journey

Overcome the Fear of the Journey

You want to move those big, clunky files—P drive, O drive, U drive, that all contain masses of folders, subfolders and content—from your current file server to your SharePoint environment. But when people say the word migration, it often comes with a certain amount of fear: it’s a long, arduous process that, if done incorrectly or without care, can result in the loss of important or sensitive data.

A file share migration to SharePoint doesn’t have to be all that challenging, and the benefits you can achieve from a successful migration should far outweigh this perceived risk.

A file share migration lets you take all your files and folders and bring them to your groups for Office 365, SharePoint team site document libraries, OneDrive for Business, and everything else. You can tag your files and file shares with metadata as well, so you can find them easily post-migration.

Preparation is crucial when migrating file shares to SharePoint

Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail

It’s worth noting that, while the process of migration can be straightforward, it’s not without its pitfalls. You can’t just cut and paste hundreds or thousands of files and folders into SharePoint.

One of the most important factors in any migration is planning, and for migrating file shares to SharePoint, that means creating a solid plan. The exact plan you make will come down to your specific needs, but you can be sure it’ll involve the art of preparation.

One of the first steps you should make when preparing to migrate is analyzing what exactly it is you’re preparing to move. Think about having to lift and shift physical boxes from one house to another – you’d probably want to have a fair idea of how heavy they are before you start, right? You would want to know the sizes of the boxes and how many there are so that you can choose the best method of removal; do you need a wheelbarrow or can you do it by hand?

It’s the same deal with your file share data. You need to look at the total size of the content that you want to move. How many files in total? What are the largest files? How complex are the file structures? What types of files are you dealing with, and how much ‘deadwood’ is there?

Capacity is Important

You should know the amount of data you’re migrating, simply because you need to know if you’ll have enough space in SharePoint for it. If you have too much data, you might have to think about buying more storage space. Depending on the version of SharePoint you’re migrating to, the maximum size of a file will differ—in SharePoint 2013 the capacity is 2GB, while in 2016 it’s 10GB—so it’s important to understand the size and types of files you’re working with.

The Number of Files

Similar to the capacity question, knowing the actual number of files you’re migrating is important for the performance of your new system (the stuff going on 'under the hood' can be affected by excessive volume), like synchronizing team sites and personal sites. In SharePoint 2013 there’s a fixed limit of 5000 items per view, folder, or query.

This has been extended in SharePoint 2016 so it’ll be less relevant if that’s the version you’re using, but still important to know. There are ways around this in 2013; for example, splitting your folders into separate collections is a fix in a pinch.

File Types

What does your content and data from your file share mainly consist of? SharePoint is an excellent place for storing Office documents but, if you have a lot of developers’ code, SharePoint may not be the ideal place for that content. You should also be aware that there file extensions that aren’t permitted in SharePoint; you can find the offending extensions here.

Eliminate the Deadwood

There’s an alternative to buying extra storage if it turns out you actually do have too much data, if your file types are not ideally suited, or if your extensions aren’t supported. And even if your data is perfectly compatible, preparing your file shares to be migrated to SharePoint will give you the opportunity to purge files and clean up your content.

Even a quick look will turn up a number of documents that you no longer need. SharePoint has automatic version control so your system doesn’t get bogged down with multiple versions of the same file.


For more articles on file share migration you can read the following blogposts


Carl O'Connor
Carl O'Connor @sharegatetools

After years of passionate development work on Sharegate, Carl has now switched to the other side of the force. He coordinates the development and works on the product roadmap. His deep interest for User Experience improvement is at the center of everything he does.