Migrating from a File Server to OneDrive & SharePoint? Consider This

By Josh Farlow, Director of Cloud Services


“Modern Office”: This may be a term you have heard, but it does not describe the updated finishes on your office building. Let’s talk about what Modern Office means and some of the important logistical considerations to keep in mind when it comes when making the leap to Modern Office solutions for File Management.

Modern Office refers to a business computing model defined by:

  1. Serverless Architecture – No more servers in your server closet or in a data center
  2. SaaS (Software as a Service) based applications – All apps are “in the Cloud”, and typically include Microsoft 365 in some form. In other words, they are software services paid on a subscription basis and hosted in a data center somewhere in the world.
  3. Modern File Management – File storage and management within OneDrive and SharePoint instead of a dedicated file server.

The appeal of embracing aspects of the Modern Office model, particularly the M365 (Microsoft 365) ecosystem and vision, is undeniable. It promises so many benefits: Intune for device management, Autopilot for ease of onboarding new users/computers, browser-based applications, and a combination of the performance of local resources with cloud flexibility.

Ditching the servers entirely and moving operations 100% toward a serverless Modern Office model is only feasible for certain businesses. But across the board, businesses are starting to incorporate one key piece of this Modern Office model into their operations: File Storage and Management via OneDrive and SharePoint in M365. However, there are many considerations and challenges to consider when making this transition.

The Power of OneDrive and SharePoint 

The OneDrive and SharePoint platforms are the foundations of cloud-based collaboration and storage within the M365 ecosystem. They empower users to seamlessly access, share, and collaborate on documents – the dream for a modern, interconnected workspace.

However, because they’re so foundational, before you jump in, it’s important to bear in mind that a thoughtful, strategic approach will help you not only maximize their effectiveness but also avoid potential pitfalls.

Strategic Considerations

It would be great if the transition was as simple as uploading your files and calling it a day. A few challenges keep things interesting.

Syncing Issues and File Corruption– File corruption is a common issue since the underlying technology of these cloud platforms is different from your traditional file servers.

  • Because they speak a different language, a direct transfer of the existing file server structure may lead to problems that interrupt user productivity. If many of your files are suddenly corrupted when users try to access them, they may find themselves spending the rest of the day on the phone with the support.
  • OneDrive software can simply stop working or syncing. This can be caused by a myriad of issues such as token expirations, local resource contention, file path limitations, number of files syncing limits, etc.
  • File folder sizes can cause issues if there are too many folders within folders.

Third-Party Application Integration– The nature of your data and how users synchronize it can play a pivotal role.

  • SharePoint in particular poses a unique challenge. A write-heavy application may demand synchronization with multiple users, increasing the odds of metadata synchronization issues or corruption.
  • Applications that need to write back to a file server would first need to be pointed to a SharePoint document library. However, the way the application talks to SharePoint can cause major performance issues that would need to be accounted for.

Strategies & Tools for a Smooth Transition 

If you’re thinking that moving to OneDrive and SharePoint sounded great at first, but now it seems like a nightmare. Fortunately, there are strategies and innovative tools to make it easier!

  • Reducing Complexity

Let’s talk strategy first. One of the simplest and most effective approaches is to create multiple SharePoint sites rather than one all-encompassing one for all the company’s data. Often this looks like department or team-specific SharePoint sites.

Approaching your data in these smaller segments of department or team data serves a dual purpose – it reduces the number of users connecting to their respective document libraries at any time, and it trims down the size of data and the number of files. By doing so, the likelihood of metadata synchronization issues is significantly decreased.

  • Tools for a Seamless Migration

Effective tools have emerged to simplify this migration process, like Cloud Drive Mapper by IAM Cloud, for instance. Rather than relying on a syncing tool (OneDrive client), Cloud Drive Mapper operates in the same way as a mapped network drive, such as your S: drive, in a traditional file system. Cloud Drive Mapper facilitates seamless mapping of drives to M365 to provide a real-time connection to the SharePoint document library, no syncing required, no metadata issues. 

Unlocking the Potential 

In the grand scheme of things, embracing the power of OneDrive and SharePoint for file management can be revolutionary for your business. However, as we’ve explored in this article, the journey requires a strategic mindset and a proactive approach to navigate and avoid potential challenges.

As our team has seen in the real world, thoughtful consideration, coupled with tools like Cloud Drive Mapper, can pave the way for a seamless transition and ensure businesses can unlock the full potential of these Modern Office solutions without the headache and loss of productivity that might occur by jumping in blindly.


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