What is the Microsoft SharePoint Migration Tool?

Posted 10 November 2017 12:00 AM by Peter Harrison, Business Productivity Consultant @ ClearPeople

The SharePoint Migration tool represents the first time Microsoft have themselves provided software to help users migrate files from their desktop machines, file shares and existing SharePoint sites into Office 365. Until this point organisations had to either migrate manually by uploading the files into the SharePoint document libraries, build some scripts to automate moving the files, employ a specialist agency, or purchase a 3rd party tool. 

How does it work?

The tool uses a step-by-step wizard to walk users through the necessary steps. When opening the tool, we are greeted by the following screen:

SharePoint Migration Tool

After clicking next, we need to sign in to the Office 365 tenant containing the destination SharePoint sites and document libraries. Next, we need to point to our existing data:

SharePoint Migration Tool

There are three options, but the CSV file option requires the files to be located somewhere accessible to the current machine, which will usually be a file or network share, or an on-premises SharePoint site. Once you have chosen your data source, the tool will ask for the destination SharePoint site and document library.You can click the Add button again after setting up the first destination, and add another migration task with another source and target.

SharePoint Migration Tool

So can we run our own migration now?

For those organisations who were never able to bring in a consultant or 3rd party tool, Microsoft finally offer a free option to get data into SharePoint in Office 365. Any IT professional will be able to learn to use this tool, the absence of which must have prevented small businesses really moving to the cloud for a long time. If you are moving from a file or network share, or other basic file storage system for the first time, this tool will get your data into the cloud securely through a “wizard” style interface which does not ask for any deep knowledge from the user.

If you are already utilising some parts of Office 365 as an organisation and have Directory Sync set up then this tool will migrate the permissions on files as long as the same user exists in the destination system. There is not much the tool will migrate in terms of custom configuration.

What is missing from the tool?

Migrations are typically much more complex than just solving the issue of moving the data. Some businesses will be able to download the tool and just migrate their content directly to the cloud, but this is typically only an option for businesses who are still using much older platforms to store their files and as such have not made use of metadata, business logic workflows or other SharePoint features.

For customers with a lot of prior investment in their SharePoint platform this tool is lacking the majority of features that would provide them a smooth migration, particularly noting that metadata is not migrated by this tool.

Still missing even from specialist migration tools is the ability to migrate customisations as-is without a significant amount of rebuilding. We don’t see this part of migrations ever really changing when moving from one platform to another.

I think I have migration requirements beyond this tool. What can I do?

ClearPeople have been helping organisations move to the cloud for many years and have established processes and a lot of expertise in performing migrations across many versions of SharePoint, including migrations from other systems. We will be able to recommend the best approach based on your specific requirements, whether that be a basic migration from a file share or a completely custom-developed migration from a 3rd party system. 

Furthermore, with mainstream support for SharePoint 2013 ending in 6 months, we may be able to help you upgrade and migrate to SharePoint 2016.

Get in touch with us today to speak to one of our experienced SharePoint Consultants.


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