I was recently approached by Ben Niaulin (@bniaulin) of GSoft Group to see if I would like to test drive their Sharegate migration tools for SharePoint. They’ve developed tools that will copy files from your file system into SharePoint, copy list items and files between SharePoint environments, migrate Exchange publish folders to SharePoint, and perform bulk metadata editing. The tools I tested were migrating files and list items from one SharePoint environment to another.
Full Disclosure: I’ve been provided a license for Sharegate in exchange for a review of the tool. The fact that I’ve received a free license will not influence my review, however.
The timing of Ben’s offer was impeccable, as we have a few SharePoint 2007 sites that we’d like to move over to 2010. Since our site structure is completely different in our 2010 implementation (we decided to do it the right way this time!), we did not want to just do a full site copy; we wanted to take the time to clean up some old content and only move the lists and libraries that we wished to keep to their final destination in SharePoint 2010.
Not being one who immediately reads the instructions (I’ll usually do that as a last resort), I just installed the software and dove right in. My initial impression was that the user interface was very user friendly. It was very simplistic, yet elegant-looking.
I had forgotten to enter my license key and just clicked on the “Copy SharePoint List Items” button. Luckily for me, a dialog opened and told me I had not yet activated my license, and gave me the option to do so right there. Pretty slick.
As soon as I activated my license, I was brought to a screen that asks you to connect to your SharePoint site. I was immediately drawn to the “Advanced authentication” link; I was curious if it supported forms based authentication, so I clicked it to expand. Sure enough, it does support forms as well as Office 365 authentication.
I did in fact connect to one of our forms sites just to verify it worked, and it did! Not all SharePoint tools that I’ve worked with support authentication types other than Windows NTLM authentication, so it was very refreshing to see that this one does. Other features that I like are the “Remember this site” and “Make this site default” options. These will make it easier for each subsequent time I use the tool.
Since my forms site wasn’t the one I wanted to work with, I went back and chose the correct site. Then it asked me which list I’d like to copy.
After that I entered my destination site and then chose the list I wanted to copy to.
Another cool feature is the ability to map the individual list properties.
I did not fully test this as I didn’t have a need to change things; I just wanted to copy the items over to the same columns in the destination list. But in exploring a little you can see that you can map the columns in the source list to columns in the destination list.
I selected all items since I wanted to copy them all (you also have the option of selecting individual items if you wish) and began the copy.
Next it asked me if I wanted to do a full copy or create a custom template. I chose full because I wanted to retain all the metadata and version history.
When I clicked “Full copy” a dialog popped up telling me that if I wanted to preserve the permissions when copying from SharePoint 2007, that I’d first need to install the Sharegate Extension. I didn’t really care about permissions since I already had permissions set up on my destination site, so I clicked “Continue.”
It then asked if I wanted to use interactive or silent mode when dealing with errors. I chose “Use silent mode” and off we went.
While the copy is taking place you can view the status in real time.
When it’s all finished the log pops up and if you had any errors, I suspect they would display here.
Copying libraries (as opposed to lists) requires the exact same steps, except you choose “Copy SharePoint Documents” from the main screen. In total I copied five lists and one library, and the entire process including setting up my destination lists and libraries and associated custom columns took less than 20 minutes.
The only criticism I have of the tool is that the list/library structure must exist on the destination site before you begin. In other words, I had to create my lists and all my custom columns in order for the data for those columns to be copied over. It would be nice if there was an option to create any columns that didn’t already exist. It would also be nice if you could choose multiple lists or libraries to copy at a time for simple mappings.
Overall I give the list/library migration tools two thumbs up. I would highly recommend this tool for copying SharePoint lists and libraries to different versions of or locations within SharePoint. Always a fan of a good user experience and usability, I was very impressed with the interface’s ease of use. It was very straightforward to figure out without having any prior knowledge of the tool or reading any of the help files.
Again the only downfall I could see was the inability of the tool to automatically create the destination lists and associated metadata if it didn’t already exist. However, even having to take the time to manually create the destination site structure, it is still a huge time saver compared to other methods of migrating SharePoint content. I will definitely use it again for future content migrations.