How to migrate your Intranet to SharePoint Online?

What if you could create an intranet with SharePoint Online, and migrate all of your documents and data with the highest availability in the cloud? Now you can.

What is Microsoft SharePoint Online?

Microsoft SharePoint Online is the industry leading tool for collaboration, document management and storage.
Cloud-based work management solutions allow employees to work from anywhere, anytime. Whether you’re at home or in your office, you can quickly and effectively assign tasks to yourself or your employees.

As one of the most popular and recognizable Microsoft products, and the next generation cloud version of the famous SharePoint on-premises platform, it is used by some of the largest organizations and Fortune 500 companies in the world for the last 20 years.
Microsoft SharePoint Online is Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution offering of Microsoft 365 that helps organizations share and mange content, knowledge and applications in a very secure way.

Why migrate to SharePoint online?

Nowadays, it is prevalent for organizations to store their work data in the cloud, move information across environments, and upgrade as needed. Not only does it make the information available anywhere across the organization, but it also keeps the data secured, compatible, and organized for the employees to perform at their best no matter their location, device, or work style.

SharePoint Online is a faster, reliable, compliant and user-friendly intranet platform. Nonetheless, many organizations are still not in the cloud and struggle to transition to a modern SharePoint environment.

Migrating to SharePoint Online means that your intranet is accessible from anywhere and requires minimal maintenance. This means if you need an easy-to-use, modern intranet, you will love the simplicity of SharePoint Online.

Mow we recognize that the entire SharePoint migration process has a bit of heavy lifting. It requires preparation, resources, time, and money. It is not easy to migrate years of records and data without planning and managing it well and that is where we want to help.

If you are new to Microsoft SharePoint Online or don’t know how to start your migration – don’t worry, you are at the right place. This article will help you explore options to migrate to Microsoft SharePoint Online.


Step 1: Analyze your current source of content

We always start with analysis. You need to analyze where is your data, how it is structured and with whom it is shared for starter.
Find out where your data is living. This could be:

  • An existing SharePoint on-premises Intranet
  • File shares
  • Other cloud-based tools: Egnyte, Amazon S3, Google Cloud Storage, Box etc.

Note: If you need to migrate from old SharePoint on-premises platforms like SharePoint 2010, 2013, 2016 or 2019 investigate and find out the number and type of custom solutions (WSP – Windows SharePoint solution file) are installed and used. They are two types of SharePoint solutions: sandbox and farm solutions.


SharePoint SystemSettings


A sandboxed solution enables site collection administrators to install custom solutions in SharePoint without the involvement of a higher-level administrator. The Sandbox Solution framework provides a mechanism for executing user-provided code outside of the IIS worker process. The Sandbox Solution framework should not be used as a mechanism for enforcing security boundaries when executing user code.

A farm or so called full-trust solutions contain code that is deployed to the SharePoint servers and makes calls to the SharePoint server object model. SharePoint Farm Administrators upload the farm solutions to a farm-wide storage location where they can be deployed, and their features activated. The farm solutions have scope: site collection, web application or the all-SharePoint farm.

Custom solutions (sandbox or farm) could not be migrated to SharePoint Online!
To provide the same features and functionality in SharePoint Online you need to redevelop the farm and/or sandbox solutions with SharePoint Framework (SPFx).

SharePoint workflows

SharePoint 2010 workflows are not supported in SharePoint Online! The logic and functionality can be recreated post-migration with Power Automate. This is the modern way of developing SharePoint designer-like logic in the cloud. The tool is part of the Power Platform.

SharePoint 2013 workflows are supported by Microsoft SharePoint Online and could be migrated without any additional adjustments. However, we recommend recreating these workflows with Power Automate.

Step 2: Find out how much data you need to move to SharePoint Online

Next step is to see the amount and types of data your business has.

Please get in touch with everyone involved. They know their site structure best, how much of this data is still needed, which is obsolete and could be deleted. Imagine that you need to move many terabytes of data and on this step you discover that 15 % of that is completely obsolete, so why not save the time, storage and compliance complications that could arise by keeping that data?

SharePoint Data

Step 3: Define the data structure in your new SharePoint system.

Before we finally start with the migration, plan on how to organize your data structure in SharePoint Online. This could be based on project, department, division, region, etc. Microsoft has developed and created SharePoint hub site, the replacement of sub-sites. Hub site is a place where users can share their experience with other hub family members (sites), to discover related content and events. You can find out more about SharePoint hub sites in our detailed blog post.


SharePoint Data Structure


Whenever you are ready with the structure of your new SharePoint Online platform and everything is documented, it is time to move to the actual migration part.

Step 4: Transfer your data into SharePoint

Finally, pick the right approach and start your data transfer.
There are couple of options listed below to transfer your data to SharePoint Online. Each option has pros and cons and in very rarely situations you will be able to complete your migration using just one of them. In most cases a combination of two or more options would be used to successfully complete your migration to SharePoint Online. Below you will find more details about each option.

Upload or drag & drop approach

When you have your data locally or on a file share. Go to the document library where you want your data and click Upload (1) or just select your data and drag (2) it to the document library. You can select single file(s) or folder(s).


SharePoint Upload



  • Simple / no training needed
  • You can sanitize the content that will go to SharePoint Online
  • Convenient for small amount of data


  • Not recommended for big amount of data
  • No logs provided
  • Metadata is not preserved! (e.g., the date modified field will be set as the date of migration)
  • Network stability and connectivity both play an important role here

Using the OneDrive Sync client

Before using OneDrive Sync user(s) must have a SharePoint Online site and a document library synchronized with personal computer. Clicking “Upload or drag & drop approach” user(s) can select the data that should go to SharePoint Online. OneDrive Sync is like copy/paste files from one folder to another.


SharePoint Sync


If you’re not using Windows 10, a pop-up to get the OneDrive sync client would appear. After the OneDrive app is successfully installed the document library will show up on your PC, like a folder.


OneDrive sync


Now you can select the files you need and paste them in the folder.




Depending on the size of the file(s) and your internet connectivity, synchronization/migration to your SharePoint Online environment may take from couple of minutes to couple of hours, so be patient.

Your files are already in the cloud!





  • Simple and easy, no deep technical skills required
  • Chose only the files you want in SharePoint Online Intranet
  • Metadata will persist (e.g., Data Modified will stay as is)


  • Not convenient for large amount of data
  • Internet connectivity must be stable
  • 300 000 files sync recommendation

Using SharePoint Migration Tool

SharePoint Migration Tool (SPMT) is Microsoft’s recommended tool for migrations from SharePoint 2010, SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint 2016. It is free and easy to use solution that helps you migrate content from on-premises SharePoint Intranet sites to SharePoint Online in Microsoft 365. Download SharePoint Migration Tool for free.


SharePoint Migration Tool


Permissions required:

  • Read permissions for SharePoint on-premises content
  • SharePoint Online Administrator or Site Collection Admin for a site collection-level migration

SharePoint Migration Tool works with tasks. When creating a migration task, you can choose to migrate your sites, just your SharePoint Server lists or document libraries, or choose to modernize your site collection structure. A bulk method is also available, letting you enter all your task information into a CSV or JSON file and uploading the file into SPMT



SharePoint Migration Tool


  1. SharePoint Server option allows you to migrate content from SharePoint Server 2010, 2013 or 2016.
  2. File share option allows you to migrate files and folders from local or network share.
  3. JSON or CSV file for bulk migration option allows you to bulk upload your migration task information by using either a JSON or CSV file. This method helps if you’re creating many tasks.


SharePoint Migration Tool


The SharePoint Migration Tool generates log files, summary and task level reports to help you manage, audit and troubleshoot your migration process.


  • The tool is free
  • Bulk migrations
  • Extended log summary reports
  • Incremental migrations are possible
  • Data is encrypted in-transit


  • SharePoint Designer workflows are not supported
  • Unable to handle checked-out files
  • SharePoint Server 2019 is not supported
  • Office 365 Germany is not supported


Mover is highly specialized tool for cloud-to-cloud migrations. Microsoft has acquired Mover on October 21st, 2019. The tool is currently free – regardless if it’s for a single user or a larger partner. You can access it on or through migration features from inside Microsoft 365 SharePoint Admin.

Step 1: Select source

  • Amazon S3
  • Box
  • Dropbox
  • Egnyte
  • Google Cloud Storage, Drive or G Suite
  • OneDrive / SharePoint Online




Step 2: Select destination

  • Azure Blob Storage
  • OneDrive / SharePoint Online




Step 3: Migration Manager

  • Go to Migration Actions and select Add to Migration
  • Select a CSV file to start the migration





  • It is free
  • Dashboard overview providing extended details about the migration
  • Can transfer unlimited amount of data, ideal for enterprise migrations
  • Scheduling engine
  • Keeps file permissions and sharing rules
  • Detailed logs


  • Not easy to use
  • Limited cloud storage providers

Using third party tools

Another way to migrate your Intranet to SharePoint Online is by using third party tools which would add a significant cost to your project budget.

Get yourself in the experts’ hands

For a large migration project, you will not want to be on your own. Having a trusted partner brings added value in many aspects of your new Intranet. We at Impactory have specialized in strategy, information architecture and migrations of SharePoint intranets. Organizations from various size and industries have already put us in the driving seat of their migration project. Reach out to us to get your Intranet an express ticket to SharePoint Online!


Microsoft recommends using SharePoint Migration Tool whenever possible. This approach will work only if you want to migrate from SharePoint 2010, 2013 and 2016 to SharePoint Online. For migrations of SharePoint 2019 on-premises to SharePoint Online you need to use third party tools. Our recommendation is to use a combination of SPMT and a third-party tool.

You can’t migrate the following to SharePoint Online:

  • Custom farm or snadbox solutions
  • SharePoint 2010 Workflows
  • Custom themes/branding

You need to redevelop the functionality provided by the custom solutions either with PowerApps or the SharePoint Framework.

SharePoint 2010 workflows are not supported in SharePoint Online.
Recommendation: rebuild the workflows via Power Automate.

Custom themes/branding could not be migrated to SharePoint Online. If you need to customize the looks and feel of your SharePoint Online site(s) Microsoft offers SharePoint site templates or SharePoint look book.

Below are some of the benefits that will help you take the discision to move to SharePoint Online:

  • Secure access to all your files and data from anywhere-whether you’re at home, in the office, at the airport or somewhere else and from any device (PC, laptop, mobile phone etc.)
  • Stay up to date with all new features and improvements. Microsoft is updating and implementing new features constantly and all of them are cloud-first, some are cloud-only.
  • Predictable and scalable costs. With monthly or annual billing, your organization only pays for the services used with no upfront capital expenditure costs.
  • Take advantage of technologies like Power Apps, Power Automate, Power BI, Delve and Microsoft Graph that are not available on-premises.

These are just a couple of advantages of SharePoint Online. Don’t hesitate to give us a call if you plan to move to SharePoint Online.

If you use any other collaboration tool in your organization like Egnyte, Box, Google Drive or something else and now is the time to move to SharePoint Online there are couple of options/tools to do that:

  • The copy/paste approach that was described earlier in this article
  • The tool
  • The SharePoint Migration tool (with some exceptions)

Before choosing any approach, our recommendation is to do some analysis. Reach out to Impactory if you need help and don’t know where to start.

Technically, creating an Intranet site with SharePoint Online is an easy thing. You will need either a Global Admin or a SharePoint Admin permissions to do it. When you are in SharePoint Online Admin center navigate to Active sites and click on Create.


SharePoint Admin


A new pop-up will show up in the right. You will have 3 options to create a new Intranet site: Team site, Communication site or Other options.


SharePoint Admin


A Team site would typically be used to share documents within a team. When creating a Team site, a Microsoft 365 group is automatically created. So, this option isn’t best suited for creating an Intranet landing page.

A Communication site is designed for publishing content to your organization to keep them informed. Therefore, Communication sites are informative in comparison to collaborative, they don’t have a Microsoft 365 group associated with them when they’re created. This option is good to set up an Intranet Landing Page.

Under Other options, you may choose from additional templates such as Document Center, Enterprise Wiki, and Publishing Portal.

Then you need to provide Site Name, Site Address, Site Owner and Preferred language. When the Intranet site is created SharePoint Online is providing you a lot of options for customizations and branding e.g., SharePoint site templates, SharePoint look book etc.

Try and use the Microsoft tools first: SharePoint Migration Tool (SPMT) and Both tools are updated frequently. not so easy to use in comparison to SPMT, but once you test it you will find out that it is a handy tool. Then you can use any other 3rd party tools to finish the migration. Depending on your needs, using a combination of SPMT and a 3rd party tool could be the best approach. We at Impactory can provide you some guidelines or handle your migration project end-to-end. Reach out to us to start your migration journey today.


As you’ve already found out, a migration to SharePoint Online is not an easy task. There is a good amount of planning to do, tooling and methods to choose from, and then the actual migration itself. Whatever you do, as you roll out SharePoint Online to your organization, remember to train your users to help them get the most out of this new suite of tools! Impactory can help you with Microsoft 365 Training and Support if you feel your learning and development teams are already overwhelmed.

Additional Resources

  1. Planning your new SharePoint Online information architecture? You can find out more about SharePoint hub sites in our detailed blog post.
  2. Want to find out new some new cool features in SharePoint Online that you don’t have on-prem? Start with the SharePoint Home site.


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