Migrating Sharepoint 2013 on prem to Office365 using Sharegate

Recently I completed a migration project which brought a number of sub-sites within Sharepoint 2013 on-premise to the cloud (Sharepoint Online). We decided to use Sharegate as the primary tool due to the simplistic of it.

Although it might sound as a straightforward process, there are a few things worth to be checked pre and post migration and I have summarized them here. I found it easier to have these information recorded in a spreadsheet with different tabs:

Pre-migration check:

  1. First thing, Get Site Admin access!

    This is the first and foremost important step, get yourself the admin access. It could be a lengthy process especially in a large corporation environment. The best level of access is being granted as the Site Collection Admin for all sites, but sometimes this might not be possible. Hence, getting Site Administrator access is the bare minimum for getting migration to work.

    You will likely be granted Global Admin on the new tenant at most cases, but if not, ask for it!

  2. List down active site collection features

    Whatever feature activated on the source site would need to be activated on the destination site as well. Therefore, we need to record down what have been activated on the source site. If there is any third party feature activated, you will need to liaise with relevant stakeholder in regards to whether it is still required on the new site. If it is, it is highly likely that a separate piece of license is required as the new environment will be a cloud based, rather than on-premise. Take Nintex Workflow for example, Nintex Workflow Online is a separate license comparing to Nintex Workflow 2013.

  3. Segregate the list of sites, inventory analysis

    I found it important to list down all the list of sites you are going to migrate, distinguish if they are site collections or just subsites. What I did was to put each site under a new tab, with all its site contents listed. Next to each lists/ libraries, I have fields for the list type, number of items and comment (if any).

    Go through each of the content, preferably sit down with the site owner and get in details of it. Some useful questions can be asked

  • Is this still relevant? Can it be deleted or skipped for the migration?
  • Is this heavily used? How often does it get accessed?
  • Does this form have custom edit/ new form? Sometimes owners might not even know, so you might have to take extra look by scanning through the forms.
  • Check if pages have custom script with site URL references as this will need to be changed to accommodate the new site url.

It would also be useful to get a comprehensive knowledge of how much storage each site holds. This can help you working out which site has the most content, hence likely to take the longest time during the migration. Sharegate has an inventory reporting tool, which can help but it requires Site Collection Admin access.

  1. Discuss some of the limitations

    Pages library

    Pages library under each site need specific attention, especially if you don’t have site collection admin! Pages which inherit any content type and master page from the parent site will not have these migrated across by Sharegate, meaning these pages will either not be created at the new site, or they will simply show as using default master page. This needs to be communicated and discussed with each owners.

    External Sharing

    External users will not be migrated across to the new site! These are users who won’ be provisioned in the new tenant but still require access to Sharepoint. They will need to be added (invited) manually to a site using their O365 email account or a Microsoft account.

    An O365 account would be whatever account they have been using to get on to their own Sharepoint Online. If they have not had one, they would need to use their Microsoft account, which would be a Hotmail/ Outlook account. Once they have been invited, they would need to response to the email by signing into the portal in order to get provisioned. New SPO site collection will need to have external sharing enabled before external access can happen. For more information, refer to: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Manage-external-sharing-for-your-SharePoint-Online-environment-C8A462EB-0723-4B0B-8D0A-70FEAFE4BE85

    What can’t Sharegate do?

    Some of the following minor things cannot be migrated to O365:

  • User alerts – user will need to reset their alerts on new site
  • Personal views – user will need to create their personal views again on new site
  • Web part connections – any web part connections will not be preserved

For more, refer: https://support.share-gate.com/hc/en-us/categories/115000076328-Limitations

Performing the migration:

  1. Pick the right time

    Doing the migration at the low activity period would be ideal. User communications should be sent out to inform about the actual date happening as earlier as possible. I tend to stick to middle of the week as that way we still have a couple of days left to solve any issues instead of doing it on Friday or Saturday.

  2. Locking old sites

    During the migration, we do not want any users to be making changes to the old site. If you are migrating site collections, fortunately there’s a way to lock it down, provided you having access to the central admin portal. See https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc263238.aspx

    However, if you are migrating sub-sites, there’s no way to lock down a sole sub-site, except changing its site permissions. That also means changing the site permissions risk having all these permissions information lost, so it would be ideal to record these permissions before making any changes. Also, take extra note on lists or libraries with unique permissions, which means they do not inherit site permissions, hence won’t be “locked unless manually changed respectively.

  3. Beware of O365 traffic jam

    Always stick to the Insane mode when running the migration in Sharegate. The Insane mode makes use of the new Offie 365 Migration API which is the fastest way to migrate huge volumes of data to Office365. While it’s been fast to export these data to Office365, I did find a delay in waiting for Office365 to import these into Sharepoint tenant. Sometimes, it could sit there for an hour before continuing with the import. Also, avoid running too many sessions if your VM is not powerful enough.

  4. Delta migration

    The good thing with using Sharegate is that you could do delta migration, which means you only migrate those files which have been modified or added since last migrated. However, it doesn’t handle deletion! If any files have been removed since you last migrated, running a delta sync will not delete these files from the destination end. Therefore, best practice is still delete the list from the destination site and re-create it using the Site Object wizard.

Post-migration check:

Doing the migration at the low activity period would be ideal. User communications should be sent out to inform about the actual date happening as earlier as possible. I tend to stick to middle of the week as that way we still have a couple of days left to solve any issues instead of doing it on Friday or Saturday.

Things to check:

  • Users can still access relevant pages, list and libraries
  • Users can still CRUD files/ items
  • Users can open Office web app (there can be different experience related to authentication when opening Office files, in most cases, users should only get prompted the very first time opening)

Restoring deleted OneDrive sites in Office365

A customer has requested whether it was possible to restore a OneDrive site that had been deleted when the user’s account was marked for deletion in AD. After a bit of research, I was able to restore the site back and retrieved the files (luckily it was deleted less than 30 days ago).

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