Jul 31
Thinking of migrating your file shares to SharePoint Online? Here are some points to ensure it’s a success!

Over the past 15 years of being involved with Microsoft SharePoint, I would like to share some key points we have learned while transferring 100s of terabytes into SharePoint and SharePoint Online, which may help your migration be that little bit more successful!

It’s a team effort!

You will need to involve every team within you organisation with moving to the cloud. Regular, Open and transparent Communication is key with this change.

Each Staff Member, Business Unit Manager, Department Head or other responsible person will need to be involved at some point and may have tasks to complete as well.

It’s going to take communication, time and patience.

A new structure – “Sites”

To ensure the smoothest transition to the Cloud with SharePoint Online, you should first restructure your existing file shares, to be high level business units, department or other committees or groups within the organisation, for example:



This gives you a clear structure, an opportunity to perform some “spring cleaning” of your files and think about permissions relating to which groups should have access to which sets of files.

This will build a basis for the “Team(s)” “Day to Day” Sites, where they store their files and collaborate etc.

These are often actual “Teams” within Microsoft Teams –The backend of the “Teams” sites is a “SharePoint Team Site”.

The 2nd Level of your file structure – “Document Libraries”

Keep it clean and simple – These will form the “Document Libraries” in which the files and folders contained within, will be copied into.

For example, for finance:



The folders will become your “buckets” to separate your files into – We do this for several reasons.

1. No need to put everything in one place – Management and Permissions get out of hand really quickly and lead to more problems than benefits in the future

2. Clearly label what each container has within it, making It easier to navigate and find the information you are after

3. Data Set separation – Having datasets together, gives you future abilities to leverage your data in various ways in the 365 platform

4. Integrates with Microsoft Teams – Where information can be found for the relevant people

5. Allows ways to display the sets of files in different ways (Views)

Archive – Structure

Do you really need everything from your file shares copied into SharePoint, along with the active data? Can you archive some – if not most of the data?

Clone the file structure under an “Archive” Directory, which – in accordance with the above, will become a new site called “Archive”, where should the information be needed, it can still be found – but not amongst all the active files and data.

Another method to incorporate is only migrate files which have been accessed within the last 12, 24, 36, etc months? These are your most active files and should be a priority to migrate, the others – can he be archived and retrieved when needed.

Long Paths

You file shares will most likely have a file path longer than what will be supported with Microsoft Excel and OneDrive for Business (syncing with SharePoint).

This is due to where OneDrive for Business stores the files locally.

Keep your folder depths as shallow as possible – 2 or 3 deep ideally.

Version Control

Which data sets need version control? Forms, Policies, Procedures, Tenders or any other document which requires many users to work on it.

Consider if all your files should have version control – a subset may, but everything?

Troublesome Files

Microsoft Access, Linked Excel Files, AutoCAD, Databases all do not play nice with OneDrive for Business. The nature of the product is that it syncs changes back into SharePoint.

For example: User A makes a change to their database, on their machine, it’s then sync’d to SharePoint. Then User B makes a change on their database (which is not the most recent) and sync’s it back into SharePoint – Overwriting or corrupting the file held within SharePoint.

These files may not be suited for life in the cloud in their current form. Alternate solutions may be required to handle these, such as having a single existing file share remain for these applications, or look a creating a replacing with Microsoft PowerApps or another cloud friendly product.


Scanners, Fax’s, Printers or any other device which saves files to your file share will need to be considered, as when the migration is complete – the assumption is the file shares and or server will be decommissioned and removed, leaving no place for the device to create the files.

Scan to Email is the solution here. Newer devices are coming with support for 365, but most devices support Scan to Email which negates this problem completely.


With these pointers, you can add just that little bit more confidence and success that your file migration to SharePoint Online in the cloud, will be that much more successful, user friendly, easier to manage and grow and actually serve the needs of the users and organisation.


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