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Shared drives have personalities

It is easy to think of “content” as being homogeneous. The content on a shared drive is obviously 50% Word, 30% PowerPoint, and 20% Excel. If you are in IT and responsible for migrating this content to the cloud as part of your FastTrack program, watch out for landmines. You are likely moving large number of users’ files at once to OneDrive, SharePoint, or anywhere else, and you don’t have the time to think about what the content actually looks like before you move it. The people who own the content you are moving are actually least likely to think of their content as being the same as everyone else’s.

Here are some useful examples of content collection personalities:

  • Home directories – when you store content to your home directory, it doesn’t feel like it is on a “shared drive” even though it is on a network drive. You should expect large quantities of personally identifiable information (PII). You will also find many more drafts and work in progress content than a common shared location…and fewer records.

  • Human resources – HR tends to be very form driven and there is classified more easily than other types of shares. There is also lots of risky PII. The problem is that retention is generally event based and that event detail is not held within the content ... it is likely in external systems.

  • Marketing – Content will be graphics-heavy and included stock photos. Marketing people tend to be small database savvy and work with a lot of applications that are not necessarily Word. Versioning can be a big annoyance since message quickly gets out of date.

  • Legal – Versions are often evidence and useful to keep forever. Documents tend to be long, accurate and valuable ... and probably needs extra protection.

Think about the personality of network shares when you are moving to the cloud. Also remember that there is lots of content that, regardless of the personality, will not or should not migrate. Many years ago, Microsoft has a page describing content that was blocked from being migrated to SharePoint. In SP2010, there were still 104 file extensions that were blocked from loading. The reasons for these limitations still apply. Today, the Microsoft Mover application will apply these restrictions:

  • File names may be up to 256 characters. Folder names may have up to 250 characters. Total path length for folder and file name combinations may be up to 400 characters. Content saved in a folders structure that is very deep cannot actually be found by migration tools. These files will be skipped and identified in log files.

  • Files larger than 15 GB are not migrated.

  • Files with a size of 0 bytes (zero-byte files) are not migrated.

  • The following characters in file or folder names are removed: " * : < > ? / \ |

  • Leading tildes (~) are removed.

  • Leading or trailing whitespace is removed.

  • Leading or trailing periods (.) are removed.

Remember that files with external links, such as interconnected spreadsheets, web-based applications, CAD drawings, compound publishing documents, and database applications will be migrated, but will break. What have you gained? The benefit of a thoughtless lift-n-shift approach is that it is fast and easy. The costs re-appear as impacts on the employees who own the content. After your migration, you may find thousands of files per employee that were not migrated or that no longer work. The catastrophic impact this will have on your support desk is something you want to avoid. You now need to spend hours of knowledge-worker effort to try to manually find, fix and finish migrating. You have also lost hours of knowledge worker hours building content that no longer works. You are also less compliant with your records management and protection in your on-line SharePoint. There are indexing tools that can go through on-premise locations and identify these landmines for you, so you can plan effectively. For a more considered plan for recognizing content personalities, ask us for help.


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