SBS 2003 Companyweb migration – Part 1

Series Posts:

Introduction – Overview
Part 1 – Caveats and Considerations
Part 2 – Preparation steps on v2
Part 3 – Upgrading v2 database to WSS v3
Part 4 – Attaching upgraded database to WSS v3
Part 5 – Check WSSv3 for migration to Foundation 2010
Part 6 – Move database to SBS 2011
Part 7 – Post migration steps and considerations

If you are planning to migrate your Companyweb information from SBS 2003 you are going to be taking the long road I’ll tell you now. As I mentioned in a previous post there is not a simple way to move from Companyweb on SBS 2003 (SharePoint v2) to Companyweb on SBS 2011 (SharePoint Foundation 2010). The path you’ll need to follow is firstly a migration to Windows SharePoint V3 and then to SharePoint Foundation 2010.

So, before you even commence this process you should ask yourself whether all the migration effort is really worth it? In many ways simply copying over the data and starting a fresh maybe the most effective solution. You may lose some meta data but there are so many points along the migration path that can cause pain I would really recommend that you honestly ask yourself the question as to whether a migration is really going to worth the trouble? Start by asking yourself exactly what Companyweb on SBS 2003 is being used for.

When you are considering whether a migration is worthwhile you need to consider a few things:

1. If SharePoint is just being used a file storage location, then simply copying those files via Windows Explorer to SharePoint Foundation 2010 is probably a better bet since it effectively avoids the two step migration process.

2. If you have lots of lists and information other than files in your existing SharePoint then the most effective method to shift these is via migration. It is certainly possible to export and import lists to spreadsheets and then back into a newer version of SharePoint but if you have lots of lists then it is probably going to take too long to work through all the items. Conversely, if your site is only relatively small then exporting and importing maybe much easier.

3. If you lots of customizations to your existing SharePoint, by this I mean those done with a HTML editor like FrontPage, then I’d caution that migration will most likely be problematic. Likewise, if you added custom template and web parts then many of these will not survive the migration process and will most likely need to be removed/uninstalled prior to migration. That will al take time and generally break things.

4. If your SharePoint site is large (say >1GB) or is overly complex in its structure (i.e. lots of subsites) then migration is probably going to be more effective. The migration method basically involves detaching, copying and reattaching databases between SharePoint versions. If you have a lot of data then it is probably going to be much easier to do all this via a single file rather than trying to export and copy the data individually. However, beware of the default database limitations of Companyweb on SBS 2011 (10GB) because if your existing SharePoint data is already larger than this you are going to have to take appropriate steps on the destination SBS 2011 server to accommodate your data before you commence any migration process.

5. The migration process from SBS 2003 Companyweb is going to require the installation of a Windows SharePoint Services v3 (WSS v3) server. Where are you going to install this? On the SBS 2003 server? On a stand alone members server? On a virtual PC? To my way of thinking it really doesn’t make much sense to install WSS v3 on the existing SBS 2003 server simply because doing that isn’t straight forward. Do it wrong and you’ll screw up all your existing SBS 2003 wizards. For me the best bet is to use Virtual PC as a staging server to move the content to WSS v3. This provides greater flexibility (roll backs, snap shots, etc) as well as effectively costing nothing (Virtual PC is free to download, you can use a trail license of Windows Server will migrating, etc). It will also leave your source SBS 2003 server more or less untouched providing roll back if required. Whatever you decide you are going to need to install WSS v3 somewhere!

6. Are your backups working? If you plan to migrate part of pre-scanning process will make slight changes to the existing SBS 2003 Companyweb databases. I am yet to see a situation where this caused an issue BUT that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen. Anytime you plan to make changes to the source during a migration you need to ensure that you can return it to exactly the way it was before you made changes. I’d always recommend you do a stsadm –o backup on your existing Companyweb site on top of whatever else you are doing to backup the database. An stsadm –o backup command gives you a single data file that can easily be restore to a blank SharePoint site which in my experiences provides a huge amount of flexibility.

With all this mind I’ll cover the migration process from SBS 2003 to a temporary WSS v3 server in an upcoming post.

Image: jacqueline-w

SBS Companyweb migration

Series posts:

Introduction – Overview
Part 1 – Caveats and Considerations
Part 2 – Preparation steps on v2
Part 3 – Upgrading v2 database to WSS v3
Part 4 – Attaching upgraded database to WSS v3
Part 5 – Check WSSv3 for migration to Foundation 2010
Part 6 – Move database to SBS 2011
Part 7 – Post migration steps and considerations

So SBS 2011 Standard is now available and Microsoft has even released a document on how to go about migrating Companyweb from SBS 2003 and SBS 2008. You’ll find that document here:

Rather than simply re-hash that document I’m going to do a series of blogs posts on general migration to the latest version of SharePoint. That means both SharePoint Foundation 2010 on SBS 2011 and Office365 in the ‘cloud’. So let’s start with a high level overview.


1. You can’t simply back up and restore Companyweb web from SBS 2003 to SBS 2008 or SBS 2011 for that matter.

2. Each version requires a conversion process to be run on the databases. Thus, from Windows SharePoint v2 on SBS 2003 to Windows SharePoint Services v3 on SBS 2008 the database requires an upgrade. Likewise, the same applies from Windows SharePoint Services v3 to SharePoint Foundation 2010.

3. If you want to jump from Windows SharePoint v2 to SharePoint Foundation 2010 you are going to have upgrade to Windows SharePoint v3, then upgrade to SharePoint Foundation 2010. There is no direct process. This means you will need a functioning Windows SharePoint Services v3 site somewhere during the migration to SharePoint Foundation 2010.

4. SharePoint Foundation 2010 on SBS 2011 is limited, by default, to a database size of 10GB (because it uses SQL Express 2008 R2). If you have content large than this you need to look at moving SharePoint Foundation 2010 to a commercial version of SQL (i.e. standard).

5.  Some of the customizations and templates in each version may not migrate and in some cases may actually prevent migration. The general rule of thumb is that the less modifications you make to SharePoint the easier the migration. You’ll need to test for these customizations prior to migration to determine what changes may be required on the original site prior to the migration.

6. Tools such as SharePoint workspace 2010 will not be of assistance for a migration since they ONLY function with the current version of SharePoint (i.e. 2010).

7. You will need to re-establish things like search indices, PDF indexing, etc in the latest version (which can require very different configurations from the original version).

8. Beware of long filenames, blocked file types and filenames with special characters. They may not all be supported in the version of SharePoint you are moving to.

9. Make sure you have enough disk space on your destination server for the SharePoint databases as in most versions of SBS the default location for SharePoint databases is on the system drive (i.e. C:). Best practice is to relocate the databases before you start populating them.

10. There are a few different paths that can be taken for a migration but at the end of the day you typically want a site that is a combination of the existing blank site and you old content. This will means running a merge, which typically means you need to create an import file of your old data in a SharePoint 2010 format first.

From SBS 2003 to SBS 2011

1. You are going to need to ensure that SharePoint v2 on SBS 2003 is full patched. This means at least SharePoint v2 Service Pack 3 needs to be installed.

2. You’ll need to run the prescan.exe tool on SharePoint v2. This will provide you with any warnings that may prevent migration. Note that prescan.exe also changes the databases so that they can’t be upgraded WITHOUT running this tool.

3. Then you’ll have to install Windows SharePoint Services v3 somewhere (on the SBS 2003 box, another box or a virtual machines) and migrate the v2 databases there.

4. You’ll then need to run the v3 command:

stsadm –o preupgradecheck

and resolve any issues.

5. Finally you can migrate the databases to SharePoint Foundation 2010 on SBS 2011.

From SBS 2008 to SBS 2011

1. Again, you’ll need to ensure that SharePoint it totally up to date. Migration will not work unless certain minimum versions are met.

2. You’ll then need to run the v3 command:

stsadm –o preupgradecheck

and resolve any issues.

3. You can then migrate to SharePoint Foundation on SBS 2011.


1. BPOS is currently equivalent to Windows SharePoint Services v3 (like that on SBS 2008). So if you have anything prior you will need to bring the source content up to that level first.

2. You can’t do a database migration under BPOS so you’ll have to use a number of export and import mechanisms to get the content across. This will mean exporting lists to spreadsheets and databases. It will mean using SharePoint templates to save calendars. It will also means using drive mappings to shift data.

3. At the end of the day it is a very manual process and will most likely result in data loss. There are third party tools available, but in my experience they are not cost effective unless you are doing a lot of SharePoint migrations.

To Office365

1. When BPOS is upgraded to Office365 it will upgrade SharePoint from v3 to 2010 which generally means the content from previous versions (i.e. v3) will not migrate easily. This means that any content will need to be converted into 2010 format before it is imported into a 2010 site. That is why it is a good idea to move your SBS 2008 Companyweb data now into BPOS so when it gets upgraded to SharePoint 2010 your data will as well.

2. You can’t migrate a database straight into Office365 (is my understanding although powershell may allow this), thus you are going to have to use a number of import and export mechanisms to get the content across. This will mean exporting lists to spreadsheets and databases. It will mean using SharePoint templates to save calendars. It will also mean using drive mappings to sift data.

3. At the end of the day it is going to be a very manual process and will most likely result in data loss (from what I can currently see). There are third party tools available, but in my experience they are not cost effective unless you are doing a lot of SharePoint migrations.


There are plenty of issues I have glossed over here but hopefully this gives you some idea of what you may be up for during a SharePoint migration.

I’ll provide more details of each of these migrations over the coming posts.

Image: Kevin Eddy

Last minute shopping?

Looking for that last minute Christmas gift (grin)? Well here’s a list of the resources that I make available for people:


Downloads – 
Podcast –
Presentations and documents –
YouTube channel –
YouTube channel 2 –
Blog –
SharePoint site –
Facebook –
Linkedin –
Delicious –
Twitter –
Email newsletter –


SharePoint Operations Guide –
Overcoming email frustrations with Outlook 2007 –
Windows SharePoint Masterclass: Optimizing Search –

Merry Christmas to all.

Robert Crane (

Customer logic Part II

After my post yesterday on a major reason why customers will look at Office365, I received a very valid comment on the post about how if you multiply the amount out it ends up being more than the cost of Office if you simply purchased it over 1 – 2 years.

Yes, some customers will multiple that out but let me give you another example of where this ‘rational logic’ fails the customer test. Firstly, what about the way most people purchase mobile phones? They don’t buy them outright they buy them on a plan and end up generally paying many more times the value of purchasing the handset outright. Example two, many business people don’t purchase a car, they lease it. This is typically more expensive than buying it outright but they do it to receive other deductions.

I certainly agree there will be rational customers who will simply multiply the cost out but most I feel have become accustom to paying per month for many ‘business’ expenses. And here’s another reason customers will go with a subscription offering for Office. When a new version becomes available they are entitled to that version (provided their subscription is current). This is basically like volume licensing but now available to users of any size.

So add all the benefits of Office365 with the subscription to Office Professional Plus on the desktop and I still think it will ring most customers bells.  

Customer logic

I’ve been pondering what the appeal might be of Office365 for customers and you know what I reckon will be the number one draw card? I reckon it’ll be that they’ll see it as a way to get Office cheap.


Office365 will offer the ability to install Office Professional Plus 2010 on the desktop (depending on which license is chosen). You can read more about this here:


A few technical people I have spoken to about this have scoffed at my notion (which isn’t uncommon for one of my notions), yet I still think it may be the case. Why? May be because customers still don’t understand all this cloud stuff but they understand Office on their desktop and getting that cheaper is better in their minds.


You gotta stop thinking like a technician and start thinking like a customer I reckon if you want to sell this cloud stuff. I shouldn’t be telling you that because I plan to sell the cloud to your customers so I’d better shut up now eh?

Digital story of Nativity

Santa, just before you leave


Dear Santa,


Just before you head off on your rounds Christmas Eve (I still don’t know how you do it all in one night), I am wondering whether you can drop by the Google office’s and put in a good word for me in regards to getting a Chrome notebook to test?


I’ve been pretty good all year and used Google’s products. I use their Chrome browser extensively and applied for the notebook using Google’s chrome browser as well. I’ve stacked up my email in my Gmail account, I have my Google Adwords and Adsense running. I’m moving many of non-commercial website to Google Sites so I don’t know what else I can do (except perhaps use Google Buzz).


So when you call into Larry’s and Sergey’s homes on your way through Christmas Eve anything you can do to help my cause would be greatly appreciated. I do however appreciate that there are many far more deserving than me and if it comes down to the notebook or the Ferrari 458 Italia I also asked for this year, well I’ll take the Ferrari.


Thanks in advance


New SharePoint options for SMB

So SBS 2011 Standard has been released and will soon make its way onto the servers of SMB customers (so they say). SBS 2011 Standard includes an on site version of SharePoint 2010. This version is SharePoint Foundation 2010, which is kind of the upgrade from Windows SharePoint Services 3.0.


Now SharePoint Foundation 2010 is a free download from Microsoft, which you could install on a Windows 2008 server without the need for SBS 2011 Standard. SharePoint Foundation 2010 also has a bigger sibling know as SharePoint Server 2010. SharePoint Server 2010 comes in two flavours, standard and enterprise both of which are really priced out of the market for SMB customers.


SharePoint Server 2010 enterprise has plenty of really great features including Access Services which allows you to host an Access database in SharePoint and using it through a web front end. It includes InfoPath services that allows you to host intelligent forms created with InfoPath on SharePoint without the need to have InfoPath installed on the desktop. Along the same lines you’ll also find Visio and Excel services. SharePoint Server 2010 also includes features like social networking so people can ‘like’ and rate results which improves their relevance to the organization. It includes something known as My Sites that gives each employee their own portal as a way of aggregating information about them and what they are working on. Finally, SharePoint Server 2010 includes a much improved and extended version of search.


Typically all this was out of the reach of smaller customers because SharePoint Server 2010 requires both server and client licensing, thus they settled for the reduced functionality in SharePoint Foundation 2010. But guess what? They don’t have to any more. Why? Because when Microsoft makes it’s latest version of cloud services available via Office365 customers can get access to almost the complete functionality of SharePoint Server 2010 for a few dollars per user per month.


Many of the projects I get engaged with are looking to develop an intranet using their SBS server. That’s great, and for some customers that will work well but when I speak to most customers about the benefits they receive from hosted SharePoint Server 2010 via Office365 combined with the reduction in administration, reduction in licensing complexity and so on, most are choosing to go with the online offering.


Until Office365 officially launches clients need to sign up with BPOS which is currently limited to Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 but they all see the benefits of getting on board sooner rather than later and can’t wait for the upgrade to Office365 to take place. Personally, I can’t either because it is going to give businesses of all sizes access to enterprise software for a few dollars per month per user.


Roll on Office365.