Migrate OneDrive files from on-premises SharePoint 2013 to Office 365

OneDrive for work or school is the SharePoint Server personal library that people in your organization use to store and share their corporate work documents. By moving these documents to OneDrive in an Microsoft 365 tenant, your users can access these documents from outside of your network.

After you connect your SharePoint Server on-premises users to OneDrive in Microsoft 365, the first step is planning how your users will move their files to the cloud. This article describes methods that you can use to do this.

For more information about OneDrive, see What is OneDrive.

Migration options

There are two ways in which you can plan to migrate your users’ files from their on-premises SharePoint ServerOneDrive document libraries to OneDrive in Microsoft 365:

  • Self-service migration: The users select the documents they want to migrate and then move them to Microsoft 365.

  • Tool-based migration: The IT administrator creates or purchases a migration tool to move the content.

Self-service migration

For this option, users in your organization migrate their own files from their on-premises OneDrive document library to their OneDrive document libraries in Microsoft 365. Use this option if your users have a small number of files they need to migrate.

Advantages and disadvantages of using self-service migration

Advantages

Disadvantages

Use fewer IT-resources: Users move their own files to their personal sites.

User resistance: Your users must make the effort to move their own files.

Lower cost: Cost can be much cheaper than buying a third-3rd party migration tool.

File properties are not migrated: Migrated files are recognized as new files and won’t keep file metadata.

Tools-based migration

In certain situations, self-service migration won’t be the most suitable option for you. If this is the case, you can use a migration tool from Microsoft partners to perform the migration.

Advantages and disadvantages of using a tools-based migration

Advantages

Disadvantages

Migrate large amounts of data: Better when your users have many files and large amounts of data.

Complexity: Using a tool-based migration can be complicated. You IT resources will need to test and monitor the migration process.

Migrate file metadata: Some migration tools might migrate metadata for you.

Monitor for performance: Moving large amounts of data might affect your network’s performance. You should monitor your network’s performance during your migration.

Considerations when selecting a migration tool

When you select a third-party tool to migrate your on-premises users’ OneDrive document libraries to OneDrive in Microsoft 365, consider the following:

  • Tool capabilities: Understand what the tool can do. If you plan to migrate more than just user files, many tools can move much more than your on-premises document libraries (for example, your SharePoint site collections).

  • Cost: Costs and licensing requirements can vary by vendor.

Creating your users’ personal sites in Microsoft 365

An additional requirement for moving users’ documents to OneDrive in Microsoft 365 is to create a personal site for each user in Microsoft 365. There are two approaches for creating the personal sites:

  • Self Migration: If your users will be migrating documents themselves (self-migration), they can create their own personal sites in Microsoft 365 by clicking the OneDrive link in the header. The Create Personal Sites permission must be enabled in the Manage User Profiles page in Central Administration for users to create their own personal sites.

  • Pre-provisioning: If you are using a migration tool, use Windows PowerShell to pre-provision your users’ personal sites by using the ProfileLoader.CreatePersonalSiteEnqueueBulk cmdlet. This cmdlet allows you to pre-provision personal sites for multiple users for Microsoft 365OneDrive.

How to migrate in a self-service migration

In the self-service migration scenario, users can migrate their own files by using one of the following methods:

  • OneDrive for Sync client: Users migrate their files to their OneDrive for Microsoft 365 document library by using the OneDrive Sync client.

  • Drag and drop: Users migrate their documents by using drag and drop from Windows Explorer to their OneDrive for Microsoft 365 document library.

When you use the drag-and-drop method, you can select only the files you need. In contrast, when you use the OneDrive sync client, it migrates all of your files from your sync folder location to the OneDrive for Microsoft 365 document library.

Migrate using the OneDrive Sync client

The OneDrive Sync client is available with Office 2013 or Office 2016, or as a free download. It allows you to synchronize your OneDrive for Microsoft 365 document library to your local computer.

This method uses a two-step process: First, you back up your on-premises OneDrive document library on your local computer, and then you use the OneDrive for Microsoft 365 Sync client to copy the content of the backup folder to your online environment.

Create a backup of your sync library folder in SharePoint Server

  1. In your SharePoint Server My Site, go to your OneDrive document library.

  2. Sync this document library to your local computer.

  3. Create a backup copy of the synced library folder on your computer.

  4. Stop syncing the document library.

Sync your local library folder to your personal site document library in Microsoft 365

  1. In Microsoft 365, select OneDrive in the navigation bar.

  2. This takes you to OneDrive in Microsoft 365.

  3. Sync this library to your local computer.

  4. Copy the contents of the backup library folder you created to your synced library folder.

Note: For more information about these procedures, see Move SharePoint Server 2013 OneDrive files to Office 365.

Limits considerations

The OneDrive Sync client limits the total number of items that you can synchronize with a document library. For information about these limits and where they’re set, see Restrictions and limitations when you sync SharePoint libraries to your computer through OneDrive.

Migrate using drag-and-drop

The other self-service migration option is to have your users drag-and-drop their individual files to the Microsoft 365OneDrive document library through Windows Explorer.

Migrate your files using drag and drop

  1. In your Microsoft 365 personal site, click OneDrive to open your OneDrive document library.

  2. On your computer, find the documents you want to upload in File Explorer, and then drag them to the location in the Microsoft 365 document library window to which you want to move them.

Notes: 

  • Instead of using drag-and-drop, you can also choose to select and upload your files from your local computer by clicking Upload in your OneDrive for Microsoft 365 document library.

  • For more information, see Upload files to a library.

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