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How to move file shares from on-prem to cloud
Wed, 15th Nov 2023

It may be time to migrate file shares to SharePoint, OneDrive and Teams, and security is a major reason.

The Azure Cloud has proved to be the better cybersecurity option compared to on-premises servers. Now, with the October end-of-support date, Microsoft is no longer making updates to Windows 2012 servers.

That means no security patches and no support options. SharePoint Server 2019 also moves from mainstream to extended support in just a few months.

File shares are centralised files hosted on a network server or network drive or shared files and disks on local computers. These files are referred to in many organisations as a 'Z drive'. If an organisation still has file shares, employees are probably very familiar with how to access and use them.

That doesn't mean the situation is ideal. It just means they're used to it, like the extra nudge we have to give a door that always sticks.

It's important to remember that moving files isn't just about moving files. For anyone adopting Teams, SharePoint and OneDrive or expanding Microsoft 365 deployment within an organisation, it is essential to make sure users are ready for a big change in how they access and share documents.

So let's plan for a smooth conversion and migration.

Beware of the benefits-only approach to platform conversion. Management can talk about easier file access, more productivity and seamless collaboration, but teams can lose trust if they don't acknowledge the potential pain of making a big change. Any major conversion or adoption needs to include careful planning on the front end and empathetic communication throughout.

A smooth migration also helps reassure employees that their files are safe and accounted for. My company's solution makes it easy to plan and execute any size file migration and includes features to customise a project to the needs of the organisation.

It's easy for internal IT teams to learn and use, but it's also a top choice for MSPs and consultants who use it to deliver successful migrations for their clients.

Preparation is key. A file share migration will go most smoothly with careful planning. Make a plan for what goes where. This starts with a rigorous review of how files are currently stored.

Files that belong to a single user, even if they plan to share them with others, should be mapped to their personal OneDrive. A file or folder intended for team collaboration should move to a shared library where team members can access it by default.

After thoroughly examining the existing file landscape, IT may determine that it's necessary to do some cleanup before moving forward with a migration. Taking this step not only makes the migration run more smoothly, but it can also save on storage costs and help end-users increase their productivity.

Depending on the size and structure of the organisation, this cleanup phase may involve putting together a team of representatives from each department tasked with making decisions about file structure.

Preparation also includes setting up the target Azure environment. An understanding of the current file share landscape will help to estimate Azure storage needs and costs. This information is required to purchase an Azure subscription and create an account.

There's one more step before migration: preparing the destination environment. This involves pre-provisioning users in Microsoft 365, setting the permissions that will be used for the migration, and creating a destination site or subsite and document library within SharePoint.

Once all the prep work has been done, it's time to migrate. Our solution is not just a full-featured, flexible and secure migration tool, the people behind it are committed to clients' success.

Whether an organisation is doing its first migration or migrating file shares for the first time, its team can access learning materials and migration guides that will navigate through every step.

My company's comprehensive migration planning and strategy guide will help. It includes links to knowledge base articles, FAQs and other resources that will answer questions. Users can also access free tutorial videos on a wide range of migration topics, including OneDrive to SharePoint Migration Setup.

The steps to completing a file share migration are easy to learn: create a document project, add items, verify credentials, and then either migrate all at once or in stages. There are a few more steps to take post-migration to maintain a secure environment.

These include removing access to source file shares, decommissioning the file server, and deleting Azure blog containers created during the upload. All of this is detailed in documentation and educational materials.

User engagement is an important part of any major migration, especially one that involves a new platform or new work processes. A migration plan should include start-to-finish communications that inform users about what to expect, the benefits of the change, and who to contact for help.

More detailed communications should go to key stakeholders, and this can include stats on the success of the migration from the solution console.

Provide training to users unfamiliar with OneDrive or SharePoint to help them become more confident and productive post-migration. This is another time to engage department representatives. They can act as ambassadors to help troubleshoot any concerns about seemingly misplaced files or permission changes.

Moving file shares to the cloud may be inevitable, but it should be done with careful consideration and the best tools. My company's solution documents migration and will quickly and securely move files to the correct destinations.