For the do-it-yourself administrator out there, sometimes the word ‘upgrade’ can invoke a sudden overwhelming feeling of anxiety.   As we all know with just about any product, an upgrade is not as seamless and easy as we would like it to be.  I recently had the pleasure of migrating a SharePoint 2003 site to the new 2010 version.  In this article we look at the three options that are available to migrate SharePoint instances.

The first procedure before beginning your migration is to identify the method for migrating your site.   Moving from SharePoint 2003 to 2010 is only possible via a file transfer.  This involves mapping both sites as a network drive and copying the files over.  This is extremely slow and can cause several issues.  If you are using SharePoint primarily as a document library then you might want to consider this method.  Keep in mind that wikis will not transfer as their links will be wrong.  This holds true for moving a wiki from SharePoint 2007 to 2010 as well.  SharePoint will ask to revert the wikis to an older template but will not have the template to do so.  I recommend using a third party vendor’s software for your wikis.

Another popular method you will see recommended is using the built-in stsadm.exe command.  While this is a great method for moving a site to another server on the same version, this does not play nice when migrating to a higher version.

The third, and probably most used, is the database migration.  Once again it is not possible to move the site directly to SharePoint 2010 from 2003.  An intermediate site must be created in order to make the step to the newest version.  Microsoft offers free trials of SharePoint 2007.  The trials last for 180 days, giving the administrator ample time to update the site.  Several points to keep in mind, as well as needing SharePoint 2007, are permissions for SQL.  The person upgrading will need to have permissions to access the SQL instance of the old site and have access to the intermediate and new instance as well.   By using the database method the admin will back up the old site, restore it to the intermediate site and from there, upgrade the database to support 2007.  This update can be run with the psconfig.exe command.

It’s also an important step to recognize errors and fix broken links while in SharePoint 2007.  Letting these errors go and not addressing them can cause an even larger issue when making the last database move.  Once the site is fully functioning within the 2007 environment it is then ready to be moved again.  Just like the move to 2007, you will need to back up the database in the SQL instance and move the file to the server with the SQL instance for SharePoint 2010, after performing another update with the Psconfig.exe command.

Knowing the type and quantity of content that is stored on the site is the largest deciding factor for the migration method.  Take your time, choose your method and get a good walk-through.  The transition should be decently smooth and you will soon be able to take advantage of the new features SharePoint 2010 has to offer.

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