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How to make your Microsoft Office 365 SharePoint Online migration as easy as possible

Whether you are migrating from another cloud service or an on-premises email and file share configuration, the task of migrating to Microsoft Office 365 SharePoint Online can seem daunting.  There are, however, a few things you can do in advance to make the transition less painful and more efficient.

Flatten your file share folder structures.  I have spent countless hours trying to fix file structures that are simply too deep and complex. These structures often contain duplicate files, obsolete files, and garbage files. Just making an effort to organize your current file structure will cut down on the overall migration size, time, and cost.

Remove illegal characters.  Take the time to run a tool that removes illegal characters from your file systems. Some migration tools will migrate files with illegal characters, but it takes much longer because it is replacing the illegal characters in the background. Having short concise naming conventions ensures that your URLs will not break and your file structures will transfer as you want them to. To review illegal characters in SharePoint Online, check out this article.

Thoughtfully plan your migration windows.  It is a best practice to keep SharePoint Online libraries to less than 5,000 items. I know that we all break that rule, but keeping your libraries down to the smallest possible size makes them easier to migrate and sort and filter in the finished library. Careful scheduling of migrations is critical. Plan for manageable migration windows. Remember you are migrating online and there are many factors at play. The tenant you share with other customers might be busy and your documents are queued up and could take longer than expected. Run some tests. Pad your migration planning to mitigate any slowdowns that will inevitably occur.

Know your migration tool.  It’s always a good idea to practice with your migration tool. Try a few different tools out to see what you like. I am partial to ShareGate and Metalogix. ShareGate is great for smaller migrations and the PowerShell options are fantastic. It is a local install so you can be up and running in just a few minutes and migrating in no time. Their support is also the best in class.  Metalogix is the Rolls Royce of migration tools. The set up requires a server and more configuration, but it has a lot of options, including migration from disparate sources.  Do some research and find out what works best for your specific migration. One tool definitely does not fit all when it comes to SharePoint Online migration.

Set realistic expectations.  Don’t expect a perfect migration. Moreover, don’t expect the exact same experience you had in your previous platform.  Instead, anticipate you will need to learn a whole new way of doing things. Prepare your users. Start with smaller areas and let them get used to Office 365 SharePoint Online.  The move from a file share to SharePoint Online is a completely new way of doing work. The move from Google to Office 365 is also very different. Manage your changes and make your migration an unqualified success.

By Lacy Omsberg – Senior SharePoint Consultant

August 24, 2017

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