Moving Large Amounts of Data to SharePoint Online – Written by Troy Thompson

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Date: January 1, 2016 at 10:39 pm

When moving large amounts of data during a migration from an older version of SharePoint to a newer version, a few couple factors come into play:


  1. Amount of data
  2. Network latency


In on-premise scenarios, Network latency can be minimal since data is typically being moved within the same LAN.  However, network latency becomes a HUGE issue when attempting to migrate large amounts of data (typically 500+ GB) from an on-premise environment to SharePoint Online.


Detailed instructions for migrating large amounts of data to SharePoint Online can be found here:


Two options are presented in these links include:


  1. Upload data over network – the files are uploaded via a network connection to Azure servers
  2. Ship drives – physical drives are prepped and mailed to Microsoft for importing into SharePoint. Once received, the files are imported to SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business


Typically, Focal Point has utilized two options for migrating content to SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business.  It should also be noted that a combination of these options could be used to move content to SharePoint/OneDrive.



Drive Shipping or Network Upload

  1. Utilize drive shipping or network upload. This will allow Motoman to quickly and efficiently move data to SharePoint/Office 365
  2. Once the data has reached its final destination within SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business, a script can be executed to identify all files that have been modified since the upload.
  3. ShareGate can then be used to execute an incremental copy that will only update files if necessary


***It should be noted that Microsoft recommends moving data less than 10TB should be migrated using the network upload approach.


A benefit of using the network upload is the ability to batch import data over a night or weekend based on the amount of data being moved.  There is still the upfront data preparation requirement, however.


The largest downside of using the drive shipping approach is the amount of time between when the data is prepped and shipped and when the data is available within SharePoint Online.  Unfortunately, Microsoft does not offer any commitment on how long it will take for the data to become available once it is shipped and received.


Real Time Migration using a Tool like ShareGate

In order for this approach to be successful, a schedule would need to be established over a period of time due to the time it takes to migrate content to Office 365 over the network one file/object at a time.  At a high level, this process would appear as follows:


  1. Identify schedule for migration
  2. Ensure sites within SharePoint and OneDrive have been established
  3. Migrate content. Ideally, this would take place over a weekend
  4. Remove access to existing file shares


Due to the time it would take to move large amounts to SharePoint Online using ShareGate, it is unlikely that this option will be used as the primary form of migration but will rather be used to support the Drive Shipping or Network Upload approach.


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