Uploading documents to SharePoint Online

Here’s another updated video using the new ‘modern’ SharePoint Online interface to show you all the basic ways to get documents into SharePoint Online Document Libraries.

You’ll see how to create new documents on the fly, upload single files as well as whole folders. You’ll also see how to drag and drop directly onto the browser and copy using the desktop sync software. This video is aimed at people new to using SharePoint Online to help them get their ‘stuff’ up into Document Libraries.

Watch out for more updated videos coming real soon!

The extinction of the drive letter

Pretty much my whole working career with PC’s there have been drive letters. I think the good ole local C: Drive will be around for a while longer but, it’s my opinion that the days of the network drive letter (e.g. S:, M:, F:, etc) are fast coming to an end. That has major ramifications for the way many work with technology, especially in this new cloud world. I’m not saying that you’ll wake up tomorrow and network drive letters won’t be with us. What I’m however saying is that now is the time to start preparing for the day when they are no longer with us.

One of the greatest inhibitions many people (and IT resellers) have around SharePoint is they can’t simply map a persistent network drive letter to it and have it operate the ‘way it has always worked’ like a network share. The reality is, firstly you can still map a drive letter to both OneDrive and a Team Site Document Library as I have detailed previously if you really want:

Mapping a drive to OneDrive for Business

But secondly, the trend with SharePoint Online is away from providing the ability to map drive letters. That should signal it is time to adapt, not throw yourself on the floor and have a tantrum that things are different.

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If we go into the ‘classic’ SharePoint interface with Internet Explorer and select the Library tab we can find the Open with Explorer option.

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But if we repeat that on another browser like Microsoft Edge (or Chrome or Firefox) we see:

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It isn’t supported. Remember, that Microsoft Edge is the ‘default’ browser for people using the latest version of Windows. Thus, it seems unlikely that you’ll be able to map a drive using the latest Microsoft browser going forward. 

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If we now look at the ‘updated’ SharePoint Document Library experience, there basically isn’t a way to open in Windows Explorer directly from the Document Library that I can find as there was in the ‘classic’ environment. No matter what browser you use.

Both of these factors should provide very strong evidence that the trend is away from mapped networked drives. Sure, I hear you that accessing a file from a M: drive was something you were comfortable with, but you know what? Doing so means you sacrifice a huge amount of functionality that is built into SharePoint. You can’t access any metadata associated with files using Windows Explorer. You can’t also filter and sort as you can in the browser. You don’t get the same search abilities and so on and so on. It’s like driving a Lamborghini in first gear! And who wants that??

As I said initially, you can still map a network drive letter to SharePoint Online if you really want to and are prepared to jump through some technical hoops. But you know what? The writing is on the wall that it is now time to shift your thinking to working in new way. To working in a world that doesn’t constrain you to a letter of alphabet. To a world of more functionality than you can imagine with your files. All that you need to do is let go of your dependency on the ways things ‘used to be’ and open your mind to the possibilities the new way offers. In my experience, those that embrace the new ways soon appreciate how limiting their concept of working with files used to be.

The major shift people traditionally tied to network driver letters have to make is from a world of file storage to collaboration as I have detailed previously:

The classic SharePoint Online migration mistake

I’ve also talked about how to get the most out of these new tools, like SharePoint Online, you need to invest time learning how to make the most of their features provided:

Getting more from office 365 means understanding SharePoint

I would also point out that Office 365 is far more than just somewhere to store emails and files, it is a complete platform that includes some fabulous tools like Delve and Yammer to name but two, that can transform any business. However, it will never do this until the ‘old world’ mentality of wanting to remain with network drive letters is banished.

Now is the time to commence this transition. Learn how collaboration trumps storage every time and how it can make any business more effective. Graduate your technology from the S: drive to a world of co-authoring, Delve, Yammer, Planner and more. Expand your mind and your business to the possibilities rather than relegating it to a technology designed for bygone era.

The extinction of the drive letter is near. Those who don’t want to upgrade from it are also destined to go the same way. Technology changes, and to get the most from it, so should you. The earlier you do, the easier it is and the tea leaves should be telling you that it is now time to start that change.

If you really don’t want to change from using network drive letters then I’d be suggesting to you that Team Sites and OneDrive for Business are probably not the best place for your files to reside. A better place may be Azure SMB file shares:

Creating an Azure SMB file share

but that too has it’s limitations and is a poor second to what SharePoint can offer.

A world without network drive letters is a big change for many, but you know what? If you show these people the benefits of the new collaboration platform SharePoint Online provides you’ll be surprised at how readily they’ll adopt it. The secret to adoption is showing them how to get started. All they need is a little help to conquer that first hill, some training wheels to ease into it. After that all you need to do is stand back and be amazed at how people use the functionality that is now available to them. Here are further thoughts from me on how critical initial adoption is:

Start up is key

So, start freeing your business and users from the constraints of network drive letters today because I’m pretty sure the old F: drive won’t be around for much longer.

Join the CIAOPS Webinar Yammer network

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On the back of my new monthly webinar, I’ve now also created a public Yammer network called CIAOPS Webinars which is open for anyone to join. Simply click here or search for the network within Yammer or let me (director@ciaops.com) know your Yammer identity (typically your email address) and I’ll add you.

The idea for the group is to share information about webinar topics and content in between when the webinars are actually held. It allows people to share information quickly and easily as well let me know any feedback or questions you have.

I look forwarded to seeing you inside the network.

CIAOPS Need to Know webinar–August 2016

With the first webinar now successfully under my belt, I’ve now scheduled the second one which will be held Wednesday the 17th of August at 11am Sydney, Australia time. You can register for the event here:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5541257505109190401

This month I’ll provide insight into the most powerful feature of Office 365 that most people never use. You’ll discover what this feature is and how to make the most of it to massively improve your productivity and reduce daily frustrations. Attendees will see a hands on demonstration of Office 365 as well as be able to ask any question during the open Q and A session. You’ll also get updates from Office 365 to help you understand what new with the product and how you can take advantage of it. Join me for this revealing webinar and I promise, you’ll learn something you didn’t know about Office 365 that will save you time and money.

The CIAOPS Need to Know Webinars are free to attend but if you want to receive the recording of the session you need to sign up as a CIAOPS patron (for only USD$10 per month) which you can do here:

https://www.patreon.com/ciaops

Also feel free at any stage to email me directly at director@ciaops.com with your webinar topic suggestions.

I’d also appreciate you sharing information about this webinar with anyone you feel may benefit from the session.

I look forward to seeing everyone on the webinar in August.

Migrations to SharePoint Online presentation

https://docs.com/d/embed/D25193336-9680-5661-1610-000083004089%7eMd4186d87-61d5-259a-4d26-00a8bd86cfff

Here’s the slides from my presentation at the July meeting of the Sydney SharePoint Users group. You can also download the file here:

https://doc.co/iGySJY/qcihGm

The presentation covered off the recommendations, best practices and tools to use when it comes to migrating data to SharePoint Online. There is not a single solution that is best for every situation, however there are certainly enough tools and methods of easily migrating to SharePoint Online. However as an overall guide here are my recommendations:

– Use an all encompassing tool like Sharegate if you have the means.

– Bandwidth is going to most important factor when it comes to migrations. Understand the impacts it will have on the migration process.

– Things will not be identical post-migration. It’s a different environment, different way of accessing files, etc. Different doesn’t mean bad, it simply means you need to invest inmore than just moving data to get a return.

A handy SharePoint migration tool

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One of the most common things that needs to be done when moving to Office 365 is migration of files and folders from on premises locations to SharePoint Online Team Sites or OneDrive for Business. The native tools such as the browser and Windows Explorer work fine up to a point, but if you need to do bulk uploading of large subsets of files then a third party tools is generally in order.

If you are looking for an overview of the options that are available to you when it comes to migrating to SharePoint Online then have a look at my previous article here:

Migrating On Premises SharePoint to Office 365

where I outline that my recommended tool is Sharegate.

Sharegate is a commercial product that can be a bit cost prohibitive if you only need to do a migration once, especially if you are only looking to copy files. If all you want to do is move files to SharePoint Online the you may want to consider the free SPfilezilla tool.

Basically, Spfilezilla work a lot like a traditional FTP utility in that you connect to your destination (in this case a SharePoint Online site) and you are then able to copy local files and folders to SharePoint Online as shown above.

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You simply select the local files on the left you want to copy to the destination and press the transfer button in the middle of the page. You will also notice that you can copy from the online location back locally as well if you want.

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The files will transfer and you’ll see a record of the whole process in the lower pane.

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Now when you look at SharePoint Online you’ll see the files as shown above. An interesting point to note with SPfilezilla is that it keeps the original time and data stamp from the source location when it copies the files to SharePoint Online, as you can see above.

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If you repeat the copy process, but this time simply drag and drop onto the browser page, you’ll see that the timestamp for all the files is automatically set to the current time (i.e. when they were copied).

So SPfilezilla is a great tool if you simply want to copy files from local folders to SharePoint Online (or back). It also has the handy ability of keeping the source modified by date consistent, which some business use as a method of filing (that, I don’t understand at all). However, SPfilezilla can only migrate from local file systems. You can’t migrate from say another SharePoint site.

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As you see from the above screen shot, it will also allow you to transfer from network locations (using a UNC path) as well as too OneDrive for Business destinations.

Although SPfilezilla is a basic migration program it is a very handy tool because it does its limited subset of tasks very well (i.e. file transfers). This therefore makes it an excellent choice for people who are just getting started with SharePoint Online and simply want to move their data files to Office 365.

Best of all SPfilezilla is free so I suggest you go and take a look because it will certainly make your basic file migrations to office 365 much easier.

Pinning in Document Libraries

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One of the new features of the updated Document Libraries in SharePoint Online is the ability to ‘pin’ a document to the top of a library page. This allows you to highlight a specific set of documents for users to see when they first enter the library.

The way you do this is to firstly navigate to the desired Document Library in your Team Site.

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You then select the file you wish to pin to the top of the Document Library. Then you select the ellipse (i.e. the three dots) from the right hand side of the menu at the top of the page. From the menu that now appears, select Pin to top.

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The file should now be displayed at the top of the library page, in preview if possible, as shown above. You can typically pin up to three files at the top of a Document Library.

The file will still appear in the normal Document Library list below. You can select the file in either location now to open or manipulate. The ‘pinned’ copy is simply a link to the original rather than a duplicate.

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To ‘unpin’ a previously pinned document simply select the ‘pinned’ document at the top of the Document Library (by selecting the check mark in the top right corner of the document) and then from the menu that appears across the top of the library, select Unpin as shown above.

‘Pinning’ documents to the top of a library is great way to give those document focus when users navigate to that Document Library in a Team Site. It is easy to ‘pin’ and ‘unpin’ documents to the top of any library using the new SharePoint Online interface, so give it a go and see whether it works for you.