Decommission shared drives while migrating to SharePoint

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More often than once, I am asked how to migrate Shared drive to Sharepoint or Office 365. You know, that lettered drive dreaded by everyone in the organization.

SharePoint 2010, 2013 and Office 365 offer many new features to help manage documents. You can tag your document and search for it later on by any of the tags. There is also workflows, versioning and many other features I won’t mention here.

So you are using file shares…

SharePoint has been set up, configured, the design is there everything is ready but all your documents are still in your Shared Drives.

A large part of a successful migration is related to change management, training and preparation. However, there are ways to help ease that process.

Explain why you are going to SharePoint

Migrate your Shared Drive to SharePoint

I have done a lot of end user training as part of my consulting in SharePoint and one thing I learned, they don’t necessarily see why they are going from Shared drive to SharePoint.

“IT decided we are going to use another program…they do this every couple of years”

It’s crucial to explain some of the solutions SharePoint will bring to their existing SharePoint problems. An example I often use is that of an existing folder structure with a folder named Contracts and the other Clients. If a new employee comes in and you hand him a document that is a Contract for Contoso. Where is he supposed to put it? Under the right client folder or the right contract folder… there is a risk for a mistake.

In SharePoint we can tag the document with as many properties as we want, which means that anyone can find their document based on what they are looking for, instead of a pre-determined folder structure.

One step at a time

Move a Shared Drive to SharePoint

There are different ways of migrating your files and folders from your Shared Drives to SharePoint.

The worst thing we could do, is take all our files and folders to SharePoint in one shot without assigning content types or properties. I have heard many stories and even seen it where the SharePoint admins say “We’ll re arrange everything once it’s migrated to SharePoint”.

Take it from me it’s a lot harder to do it after.

  • Prepare the Information Architecture
  • Create the site architecture, site columns and content types based on the IA
  • Prepare all features or add-ons required for desired functionalities

Once you are ready to add content in the sites, start the migration sector by sector. Choose a department with the highest level of engagement, the champions or evangelists from within your company. There are always key people that everyone listens to in the company, they are the ones you want.

Once you’ve selected which part of the folder structure you wanted to migrate from the Shared drive to the SharePoint site is ready to host them, it’s time to start.

Bring over the documents and assign them to content types or assign the appropriate properties. Make to place the folder structure in the Shared Drive in Read Only so people can still access but can’t modify. We do this to help with the User Adoption, people have had a routing for many years sometimes to look in the Shared Drive and access their documents. In each of the folders in the Shared Drive, add a shortcut to the site collection, site or library, whichever is possible so the user can go straight to SharePoint.


  • Migrate the Shared Drive by sections that make sense for you as a company
  • Put the shared folders as Read-Only
  • Make sure the Information Architecture is well prepared before hand
  • Migrate the content and assign content types / metadata (don’t wait until later)
  • Place a shortcut in each folder in the Shared Folders to jump to the appropriate SharePoint Site quickly

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