Actionable tips for SharePoint content management

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Managing SharePoint content, and especially your content’s lifecycle is (or should be) part of your governance plan. Every time I’ve helped customers build a governance plan, we talked about old content, old sites, or, as I said, content without activity. What qualifies as old content for you? 6 months old? One year? 

A few years ago, my advice was to set up rules or content workflows or an automatic process to be sure no dead content would still be in your environment. But today, with ShareGate and its smart reports, you have a lot of actions you can take to be sure your content is alive at the right place without polluting your sites.

Archiving old SharePoint content

It’s hard to know how old your SharePoint content is. Sure, you’ve got the created and last modified dates, but this information might not always be correct. Let’s see the main options you have for identifying old content on SharePoint and taking action from there.

Manage SharePoint content using out-of-the-box features

The only way I know to see how old my content is with SharePoint is to go to the site content for each site and see the last modified date.

  1. Go to the site of which content you want to see 
  2. Click Site contents on the left side or go to Settings > Site contents
  3. View all lists and libraries and see their “modified” date
  4. Do it for each site and subsite you want to explore
Last Modified

It’s a big pain to do it for each site and subsites. Actually, it’s quite impossible. 

Fortunately, for the last few years, I had developers with me on projects. For each migration or governance project we had, we were running a custom script that would list all sites, lists, and libraries with the owners, last modified date, and some other metadata. 

I remember it always took me more than a day to extract and build a nice Excel report to tell my client: okay, this is the content unused for 2 years, so you can archive it… (or other actions you’ve decided to take in your governance plan). But unfortunately, not everyone has great developers at hand to build custom scripts when you would need them to help manage SharePoint content. 

Archiving SharePoint content using Sharegate

With Sharegate, it’s really simple! You don’t need high technical skills to achieve your goal. You’ve got reports built just for you to search for unused sites, documents, lists, and libraries. Just follow these steps:

  • In the Migration tool, click All Reports.
  • Click Unused Site Report under Built-in reports.
  • Select the target of the report.
  • Click Next.
  • Set your options.
  • Click Schedule or Run now.
  • You will now get a list of all unused sites associated with your selected target.

From here, you can take action to clean up your unused sites, reducing sprawl in your environment and mitigating the risk of your sensitive data falling into the wrong hands!

By default, we put 6 months as the last modified date, but you can change it for a year, a month, or specify a custom date. For that, you just need to create a custom report with the parameters you need. Then, you can rename the query and save it for future use. I like to export the results to Excel and use the file to identify what content I’ll archive or delete. 

Unused Site Report

It only took me a few minutes to list all that information. This is a huge gain of time when you want to manage content.

Then, I like to use the Export from SharePoint feature from Migration to store my old sites and lists/libraries on a local hard drive. You just need to select the source and then choose where to download the content. After you store the old items locally, you’re free to delete them.

Report Download

Freeing up SharePoint space in SharePoint Online

Lifecycle is one important part of your SharePoint governance, but managing content is also important—especially when Office 365 storage costs money.

How to find huge libraries, sites, or documents in SharePoint

I remember once we had a warning inside our Office 365 tenant saying that storage space was already full. We were really surprised because we’d allowed for a lot of space. We used ShareGate to find the biggest list inside our site collection to understand what happened.

With the results, we understood that one document library had versioning activated with no limits. All minor and major versions were huge and heavy. So, we decided to delete all historical versions and put some limitations on all document libraries.

I do love ShareGate: it allows us to take a single action and apply it to multiple objects. You can set versioning and limits by making a query on lists, selecting them, clicking on edit, and then activating versioning and specifying the limits.

Moving things around

You’ve seen it before, I’m sure: your organization goes through some restructuring, or some people change departments, so you need to move SharePoint sites, subsites, pages, or lists from one place to another. If you try to do this with SharePoint’s out-of-the-box tools, you’re in trouble: the options are few and far from efficient. You can copy pages within the same site, for example, but you can’t copy or move it to another site. And if you want to move one site into another, you simply can’t make it with SharePoint online, period. 

Unless, of course, you’re using ShareGate. With its Migration tool, you’ll be able to easily target and move your SharePoint content to wherever people need to work. 

ShareGate provides you with many options to copy content, structures, teams, and channels with all agility and simplicity. Just check the documentation, play around with the Migration tool (if you`re not a subscriber yet, take your 2-week free trial), and see the magic happen.

Copy Structure 1

A few more ideas for managing your SharePoint content

The actions you can take to manage your SharePoint environments with ShareGate are almost infinite, so I rounded up a few options here below. (Note: This is a list of ideas, not a list of all the actions you must take.) 

  • Find Lists with attachment disabled > Enable Attachment 
  • Find Documents larger than 50 MB > Migrate them or archive them in another place 
  • Find Sites with the Blank Site template > Migrate site and map to your new Site Template 
  • Find specific Document types (video, gif …) > Migrate those documents to a media center 
  • Find old content > Change the permission to read only to be sure you can archive content 
  • Customize metadata > Explore the Bulk Edit Content feature from the Explorer screen 
  • And much, much more! 

Having a clean and operational SharePoint is a day-to-day task. You can save a lot of time by using ShareGate, especially when you target many sites or content or when you need to apply a new rule on multiple sites. And the best thing about it: you don’t need a developer with you anymore to generate insane reports!

Everybody wants clean and tidy SharePoint environments. Let’s optimize them together with ShareGate!

What method do you presently use to manage SharePoint Content? Let us know in the comments!

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