Upgrading from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013 comes with lots of benefits, but there are definitely some challenges, too. My team here at DEG has found this video especially helpful: “The Nuts and Bolts of Upgrading to SharePoint 2013”, as presented by Shane Young and Todd Klindt of Rackspace at the recent SharePoint 2014 Conference in Las Vegas.

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The video contains tons of tricks and tips for handling both the planning and implementation for your SharePoint upgrade. My notes are not meant to replace watching the video. Instead, they’re meant to get you excited TO watch the video. I have some of the highlights below, but really, the presentation is definitely worth an hour of your day. It will save you hours elsewhere, believe me.

SharePoint 2013

Just to clarify some definitions and strategy up front. An upgrade is a modification to the structure itself, such as upgrading from SharePoint 2010 to 2013. Migration refers to moving data from one place to another. Different types of migrations depend on the business needs. A lift and shift is automated, where you just move all the content as is. At the other end of the spectrum is a total do over, which involves changing the information architecture, content upgrades, etc., and it requires a lot more manual work, not to mention user research and content strategy.

More often, a content migration involves a hybrid of the two extremes. Before doing content migration, it’s smart to do a content audit first. If you don’t absolutely need to move it, archive it instead – “archive” sounds so much nicer than “delete”, and your stakeholders will find archiving much less scary. (Here’s another cool video more on the content  aspect of migration from Kimmo Forss and Phil Cohen of Microsoft.)

Below are my main takeaways from the Young and Klindt video: what you need to know about SharePoint 2013 upgrades, an upgrade How To, plus cool tools and Cmdlets.

What you need to know about SharePoint 2013 upgrades

Here’s some of the major things your clients – especially the less tech-savvy stakeholders – need to know before you start.

  • Sharepoint 2013 offers only one upgrade method – Database Attach Upgrade
  • SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2013 cannot run on the same server. They are not good neighbors, and they will not play nice.
  • When you upgrade to SharePoint 2013, the look and feel of your site is not upgraded automatically. However, you can empower Site Collection admins to upgrade their sites on their own schedule (more on this below)
  • SharePoint 2013 will not use 2010 Office Web Apps (OWA) – OWA must now be installed on their own server
  • SharePoint 2013 has apparently ditched the pre-upgrade check command. Bummer.

For you technical folks, here’s some helpful tips to know up front, especially regarding databases:

  • The SharePoint 2010 database must be RTM or later (no service pack required) but PLEASE patch it before upgrading
  • The upgrade just affects the database schema, not the site collections. And you upgrade databases with root site collection first, always!
  • SharePoint 2013 has two modes (hives) – 2010 (v14) and 2013 (v15). Basically it keeps a copy of 2010 features (controls and application pages)
  • Try to use the same URLs. Life is good this way.
  • To avoid problems with manage paths, you create them manually before attaching databases
  • There’s no need to recompile custom solutions to .Net 4.0+

Upgrade How To

So you’ve taken care of the prep work and are ready to get started. The steps here are to handle authentication (watch out for Claims), carry out the upgrade from 2010 to 2013, then hand over the site collection upgrade to your site collection administrators.

Authentication: You might not have any problems. On the other hand, you might not have been running claims based-authentication (Claims) yet, which is the dominant mode of authentication for SharePoint 2013. (To really wrap your head around this one, WATCH THE VIDEO.) If you are still using Classic mode, it is recommended to move to SharePoint 2013 first, then convert to claims by running:

Convert-SPWebApplication –Identity  –To Claims
-RetainPermissions [ -Force]

When converting databases to Claims, SharePoint does two things under the hood. First, it updates the web application authentication method, and second, it basically does a find and replace on user names and updates the encoded claim in their account name. (Here’s more supported methods to upgrade authentication from Classic to Claim.)

Upgrading from SharePoint 2007 to 2013: To upgrade SharePoint 2007 to 2013 – whoa – follow these steps. If you have custom solutions and/or site definitions you actually might be better of using a third party tool.

  • Build a temporary 2010 farm
  • Attach databases to 2010 farm
  • Upgrade databases to SharePoint 2010
  • Finally, backup and restore/attach databases to a SharePoint 2013 farm

Upgrading from SharePoint 2010 to 2013: Now the party really starts. In a perfect world, this is how it works for OOTB installations with no customizations – to upgrade, you just follow these simple steps.

  • Backup your SharePoint 2010 database
  • Restore the database in a new SharePoint 2013 farm
  • Create a SharePoint 2013 Web application and create a temporary site collection – make sure it works
  • Detach and delete associated web application database(s)
  • Open PowerShell, then run Test-SPContentDatabase – Name <DBName> -WebApplication <WebAppUrl> (there are new cool options available in this cmdlet – check it out here)
  • Now run Mount-SPContentDatabase – Name <DBName> -WebApplication <WebAppUrl>

Upgrading SharePoint

Success! Now go ahead and upgrade your site collections on a case by case basis.

Site Collection Upgrade:  One the benefits of upgrading to SharePoint 2013 is that it all happens behind the scenes. This means that your site collection administrators can upgrade the look and feel – not to mention, handle the change management – on their own timetable. There’s no additional need for IT or server access, because admins can perform all of these tasks.

To upgrade site collections in from 2010 to 2013, follow these steps.

  • Run a health check to verify the site is ready to upgrade. On the Site Settings page for the site collection, in the Site Collection Administration section, click Site collection health checks
  • Optionally (but cool), you can request an evaluation site collection (demo upgrade) – It’s heavy and it’s done by a timer job at 1 a.m.
  • Run a site collection upgrade. On the Site Settings page for the site collection, in the Site Collection Administration section, click Site Collection Upgrade.

Useful Tools and cmdltes

This was my miscellaneous pile of really cool stuff for developers, a.k.a. tips from the video that I couldn’t really fit into this briefing elsewhere.

  • Export all WSPs from your farm => (Get-SPFarm).Solutions | ForEach-Object{$var = (Get-Location).Path + "" + $_.Name; $_.SolutionFile.SaveAs($var)}
  • Test-SPContentDabase
  • Upgrade-SPContentDatabase – Do NOT use, this is intended for patching/installing CUs and service packs.
  • Mount-SPContentDatabase – used for migration. Much faster than before because it does not upgrade site collections.
  • Start-Transcript – Keeps log of everything going on in the Powershell screen. Scroll bars in consoles only take you so far. Very useful. I really like this one.
  • Upgrade-SPSite – PowerShell way to trigger the site collection upgrade

What about you? What have you learned from your experiences in upgrading and migrating from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013? Any recommendations or questions?

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