Migrating a WSS 2.0/3.0 site to SharePoint Online

So you have a customer with a Small Business Server 2003 environment that has set up and used Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) 2.0 or 3.0 and wants to retain the data when they move to BPOS.
As SharePoint Online (like many other hosted SharePoint offerings) doesn’t provide you with command line access to run stsadm.exe, what can you do?
The simple answer (in the case of WSS 3.0) would be to use SharePoint Designer (SPD) 2007 to simply backup and restore the site. While this sounds good in theory SPD has a very well known bug that prevents it from exporting more than 25MB (if your site is more than 25MB).
You could also use SPD to export & import the parts of the site you want using Personal Web Packages, but this can be time consuming depending on how many lists & libraries you have.
Or you could spend a small fortune on migration tools in the market like Metalogix or MetaVis, however I’d prefer a method the customer can afford.

So please join me on this journey of migrating a WSS 2.0 or 3.0 site to SharePoint Online. The WSS 3.0-specific instructions begin at Step 5.
(note: while this has been reproduced several times in various production environments, it is not perfect and can be thrown off by data corruption or issues with the environments)

Step 1 – Perform a backup of the existing site in WSS 2.0 using command line
stsadm -o backup -url http://(sitename) -filename c:temp(filename).dat

Step 2 – Set up a WSS 2.0 environment and copy across the newly created backup
I’d recommend either Microsoft Virtual PC or VMWare Workstation for ease of use. Also make sure that your new WSS 2.0 installation matches the source server version. This page will help you determine what service pack level to install.

Step 3 – Restore the WSS 2.0 backup to your new environment
Ensure that you’ve created a blank site in IIS and created this as a web application in SharePoint Central Admin. The run the following command:
stsadm -o restore -url http://(sitename) -filename c:temp(filename).dat -overwite

Step 4 – Perform an in-place upgrade of WSS 2.0 to 3.0
After installing WSS 3.0 SP2 make sure you run the configuration wizard. Once the databases have completed the upgrade process make sure you go into SharePoint Central Admin and select ‘Finalize Upgrade’ under the Operations tab. When all is done load your site and ensure that it appears the way it should (with all content intact).

Step 5 (or Step 1 for you people who are not doing the WSS 2.0 part) – Export the site to Content Migration Package (CMP) files
stsadm -o export -url http://(sitename) -filename c:temp(filename).cmp -includeusersecurity -versions 4
(the additional switches will ensure that the metadata comes across as well as all of the version history)

Step 6 – Import the site to SharePoint Online
Once all of the CMP files have been exported you will now need to import them using SharePoint Designer. Simply connect to SharePoint Online from within SPD and click on Site -> Administration -> Restore Web Site, point to the first CMP file created and go find something to keep you busy.
Something important to note with this step – SPD will upload the CMP files to the SharePoint Online site first, then extract them. Make sure the site collection is big enough to handle twice your current site size as it will be storing both the CMP files and the extracted content at the same time.

Once the restore has completed, log in and make sure the destination looks like the source and contains the same content.
Some points of note:
– If the same usernames existing in the customers BPOS profile as in the on-premise SharePoint environment – you will find the created/modifed by fields will retain the original names
– The Last Modified field of all of the lists and libraries will be counted from the time they were created in SharePoint Online

I hope this all makes sense, and if you need any help or have feedback – please don’t hesitate to ask us!

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