Best SharePoint Online Migration Checklist for Transferring Data

SharePoint Online Migration Checklist And Best Practices

Published By Siddharth Sharma
Anuraag Singh
Approved By Anuraag Singh
Published On October 17th, 2023
Reading Time 9 Minutes Reading

If your organization is about to make a move towards adopting a new SharePoint Online system, you must have a thorough project plan in place. Luckily, we have made this job a bit easier by providing this complete SharePoint online migration checklist for free.

This tutorial covers all major and minor nuances that any admin must be aware of while conducting a data transfer between SharePoint content databases. Moreover, as this task is highly complicated, attempting it without a roadmap is quite risky.  

So, first, let’s start with the importance of having a premade guide for moving SharePoint data.

Reasons to Have A SharePoint Online Migration Plan in Place

The sheer amount of data that a single SharePoint site has is enormous. By default, it has the capacity to hold up to 25TB of data. As a result, whenever a migration scenario occurs, keeping track of every bit of data becomes difficult, to say the least. So having a template that contains all the keys in an organized manner is helpful for both users and admins.

SharePoint sites are communication hubs; thus, it is guaranteed that a single SharePoint site is connected to a number of sister sites. Therefore, admins must take special care that all these connections are replicated at the destination as well. Moreover, the evaluation can only take place if the administrators possess a proper SharePoint online migration checklist with them. 

SharePoint is not only a product in itself but also the backbone of many other services as well. Both OneDrive for Business and Microsoft Teams depend on SharePoint for their functionality. So any errors that happen during the establishment of a new SharePoint environment post-migration can negatively affect those services as well. This creates another reason to have a template ready before beginning the migration itself.

Now it’s time to discuss the right track to follow while creating a new checklist.

Best Practices for Making A SharePoint Online Migration Project Plan

  • Inventory all the SharePoint data present on the source server. This allows you to figure out how much data is actually there and helps you select a migration method. 
  • Set up a task force that includes influential users (users who have relevant experience with SharePoint) and can provide key insights.
  • Once the data is all accounted for, divide it into different criteria (like important, redundant, etc). In other words, perform a cleanup operation on the source data. 
  • After the cleanup is done, arrange the data in order. As all data is not the same, prioritizing it beforehand will decrease both migration time and effort. Moreover, it reduces the chance of data duplication at the destination.
  • An important point to include in the SharePoint online migration checklist is to prepare the destination for the arrival of the data. This means all the license assignments, architecture, workflow setup, etc should be completed ahead of time.
  • Make end users aware of the changes that are about to take place within SharePoint. This minimizes user-generated errors. Schedule training so users have no difficulty accessing or using the new environment.
  • Then select a migration procedure that has a legacy of successful SharePoint migrations. Make sure that the choice you make aligns with the industry standard. To help you out, we have provided a useful tool. Make sure to check out its feature set. 
  • Before the full migration, test out the preparations with a trial migration. This helps you identify any underlying issues, so resolve them before any major mishap occurs.
  • When the migration finishes, admins must have a post-migration template to check if everything has been done according to plan or not. 

This completes all the major points in SharePoint online migration best practices. So let’s move to the first stage.

Items to Include In A SharePoint Online Migration Checklist

SharePoint is not just limited to sites but has a large collection of other related data as well. Therefore, it is the job of the migration lead to make sure all of the objects have been tallied. To help them out, here is a list of some of the data that belongs in a SharePoint inventory:

  1. SharePoint Farm Server Topology
  2. Web Apps
  3. Sites & Site Collections
  4. Both Regular and Large List (including email-enabled ones) and Libraries
  5. Pages
  6. Custom Master Pages, Page Layouts, and Solutions
  7. Workflows
  8. Content Types
  9. Site Columns
  10. Permissions
  11. User Alerts
  12. Retention Policies
  13. Records
  14. Users and Groups used
  15. External URL Dependent Files
  16. Blocked File Types
  17. Branding
  18. Any other UI customizations (JavaScript, altered menus, etc.)
  19. InfoPath Forms
  20. Information Rights Management

Note: As SharePoint is highly customizable, users may have additional data points within their content databases.

Steps for Clean-Up Task in Our SharePoint Online Migration Template

Having a neat and clean source file makes the migration a lot simpler than the alternative. Therefore, enough time should be spent on this task as well. Otherwise, the issues that exist at the source will once again creep up at the destination SharePoint address. Also, as migration is a time-consuming affair, spending critical resources for shifting redundant data is a total waste. Here is a list of objects that should be removed before starting the migration. Make sure that you include them in your SharePoint online migration checklist:

  • Invalid and Orphan Users
  • Dysfunctional SharePoint Groups, Lists, and Libraries
  • Ineffective versions that are present in the version history portal
  • Old and Unused Content, Site, and Workflows
  • Trash present in the recycle bin.

One way to speed up the clean-up operation is to make users responsible for their own content. Additionally, this also removes the risk of accidental deletion of important data.

Another way in which we can make the process more efficient is by combining similar sites into a site collection workflow. With this, eliminating redundant data becomes easier. 

Get the Endpoint Ready

It is vital for the IT admins that they do not make the same mistakes that were present at the source. 

  • If there are no major structural changes, replicate the original SharePoint Farm architecture.
  • After this, apply Microsoft’s guidelines to optimize the SharePoint content database.
  • Make sure that there are no performance issues & all the Web apps are behaving as usual.
  • Backup the critical environment metadata to a secure location (preferably local storage).
  • Deploy the Search Topology and other custom solutions that your organization uses.

Also Read: The Difference Between Microsoft 365 E3 and E5 Explained

Prepare the Users for the Change

Users are the ones who are going to deal with all the changes in real time. Therefore, they must be a critical component in finalizing all the points that should be on the SharePoint migration checklist. Moreover, all the changes should be explained clearly, and users should receive adequate training for the same. 

Users should understand why this decision is being made and what advantages they will receive when the migration ends.

More often than not, migrations involve downtime for that particular service; this is true for SharePoint as well. So while making the timeline, IT administrators must ensure that disruptions are kept to a minimum.

Some major changes that users might witness are:

  • URL updates
  • New SharePoint Sync Policy
  • Bookmarks Changes
  • Referenced Documents

Also Read: Copy or Move SharePoint Online Document Library With Ease

Now it is time to make the decision that makes or breaks the entire migration, so pay extra attention.

Select the Migration Method

It is one of the most important steps, if not the most important step, during the SharePoint online migration checklist creation. Additionally, none of the other preparation matters if an admin selects an inferior method to move the SharePoint data. 

 Download Now  Purchase Now

We understand how critical the operation is for users; as a result, we recommend the SysTools SharePoint Migration Tool. Not only does the tool understand all user requirements, but it also delivers the best-in-class results as well. Once you get the tool, follow these quick steps to shift all SharePoint data.

Step 1. Open the tool and select Office 365 as the Source and Target.

Select Office 365

Step 2. Scroll to the Workload area and pick Sites then apply the Date Filter.

Choose Site and Apply Date Filter

Step 3. Perform Validation for both Origin and Destination with official credentials.


Step 4. Map and Validate all users, then repeat the operation for SharePoint Sites too.


Step 5. Make Sections, Set Priority, Validate, and then begin by Clicking Start Migration.

Start SharePoint Migration

Post SharePoint Online Migration Checklist

Things to look out for in the aftermath of a migration:

  • Look into the detailed report provided via the tool to crosscheck all transferred items.
  • Choose some individuals who have experience and ask them to perform the tests.
  • Verify permissions & use a temporary read-only mode while the checks are going on.
  • Ensure that sites are working as required and that workflows are not interrupted.
  • Ask the users if any data is missing; if so, use the retry failed mechanism of the utility. 
  • If any service or application has any issues, pause it, apply fixes, and roll it out again.
  • If any major issue arises apply the re-run full migration facility of the software.
  • Once all data is verified, decommission the old SharePoint Online service.

Wrap Up

In this tutorial, we helped users design their own SharePoint online migration checklist in a simple manner. Moreover, as every SharePoint migration scenario is unique in itself, we provide some universal guidelines that are applicable everywhere. We are confident that with this guide, anyone, regardless of experience, can make their own custom project plan. After that, they can have a successful and error-free SharePoint migration.