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Preparation and clean up are key to successful SharePoint migration

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If you Google how to install and configure SharePoint, you will have no problem finding many blogs posts and articles on how its done, but what about the preparation or clean up BEFORE a migration?  As my father-in-law has often said, “preparation is everything” which is definetly true. To start off, Microsoft has some excellent guidelines on Best practices for upgrading to SharePoint 2013 and Clean up environment before an upgrade to SharePoint 2013 which provides valuable information on:

  • Planning for capacity
  • Backing up databases
  • Optimizing your environment prior to a migration

“Preparation is everything”

While all the following points need to be considered, one of the most, if not the most vital best practice is CLEANING UP your lovely SharePoint environment. Purging all unneeded content, aka junk, from a content database will not only make life easier on your users with removing duplicate files and decade old proposals, but it will provide more space on your databases. 

Here’s a list of items that should be considered when preparing for a clean up:

  • Perform all visual upgrades before migrating
  • Remove unused site collections or subsites
  • Purge unneeded content from large lists
  • Consolidating content database that contain an excessive number of site collections
  • Purge excessive numbers of document versions (set governance rules around the max number of versions user can create if not addressed previously)
  • Remove unused web parts, features, or templates
  • Remove PowerPoint Broadcast sites

Site Administrators Role in a SharePoint Migration Clean up

Site Administrators play a pivotal role in the success of a clean up.  In most instances, your site administrators will perform most of the items listed above, including the removal and purging of site collections, sub sites, clean up large list items, web parts, features, templates, document versions, and PowerPoint Broadcast sites.


Content that is not initially needed, but may be needed for future access can be backed up and then deleted to free storage and administrative resources, improving upgrade performance and reducing any upgrade risks. Site Administrators should have clear communication with site owners or any other business owners before purging content… although it can sometimes be tempting to bypass them to do the right thing and clearly communicate.  Business owners can provide valuable information of content that must remain for legal or compliance purposes even though you may consider it as “unneeded junk”.

“Site Administrators need clear communication with site owners”

For more information about how to delete site collections and subwebs, see the following articles:

We haven’t covered governance in this post, but it’s a good idea to implement governance rules around the preparation of your SharePoint environment. As you begin your clean up, you may find it beneficial to create policies and procedures around items such as the number of major and minor document versions at the site level or document library/list levels.  With the right preparation of your SharePoint environment and clear communication with business owners, you’re sure to create a successful foundation towards your migration.

But cleaning up a SharePoint that, let’s face it, can sometime get pretty messy could require a lot of your patience and skills. Whether you have a complete Governance plan in action or haven’t even started working on it, you probably already can think of problematic files that would need to be taken care of! Large files, older and useless ones, lists without version count limits, etc. are all part of what you’re looking for, but finding them can be tricky! The Sharegate tool helps you do precisely that, and much more, by easily finding and fixing related issues through a super simple reporting process.  A quick sweep will ensure your environment is squeaky clean before starting your SharePoint migration, setting a sound foundation for your new version.

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