It was great talking with so many of you at the SharePoint Conference last week. From one on one discussions to the big crush at Ask the Experts, we had several questions come up multiple times. Here are the most frequent questions from the conference about upgrade:

Q: Can I upgrade from Office SharePoint Server 2007 to SharePoint Server 2013?

A: Not directly, but you can do what we call a “double-hop” database attach to upgrade from Office SharePoint Server 2007 to SharePoint Server 2010, and then from SharePoint Server 2010 to SharePoint Server 2013. Back up your content databases from 2007, set up a small, temporary farm with SharePoint 2010 (you can even use virtual servers if you don’t have space, and a trial version), and attach and upgrade them to 2010 there. Then, set up your destination 2013 farm, back up the 2010 databases, and attach and upgrade them to SharePoint 2013.

This upgrade path also applies to upgrading from Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 to SharePoint Foundation 2013 – you must upgrade to SharePoint Foundation 2010 before you go to SharePoint Foundation 2013.

I don’t have an article about this “double-hop” upgrade path just yet, but I am working on getting one out there as soon as I can.

Q: What are the “gotchas” for upgrading to SharePoint 2013?

A: There aren’t any gotchas, but there are a few things that should be on your “needs special handling” list if you have them in your environment. Namely:

  • Office Web Apps, and particularly PowerPoint Broadcast Sites.
    Office Web Apps have been redone for this release and now need to be installed on a separate farm. See Office Web Apps for more info. PowerPoint Broadcast Sites were deprecated and cannot be upgraded. So you will need to delete them from your databases before you upgrade them to 2013. See Clean up an environment before an upgrade to SharePoint 2013 for more info.
  • Web Analytics
    The infrastructure for Web Analytics has been completely redone in 2013. Turn off Web Analytics before you back up your databases for the upgrade. Unfortunately, no data from the old Web Analytics features will be retained. See Clean up an environment before an upgrade to SharePoint 2013 for more info.
  • Customizations
    What kind of customizations do you have in your environment? Do you have custom site definitions, features, Web Parts, templates, CSS files, custom fields, and so on? You need to have an inventory of what you have in your 2010 environment and make sure you have it all installed to your 2013 environment and you need to test all customizations in 2013 before you upgrade. See Create a plan for current customizations during upgrade to SharePoint 2013 for more info.
  • Authentication type 
    What type of authentication are you using? Some features in SharePoint 2013 require claims-based authentication. You can migrate to claims-based authentication either before or after upgrade. See Migrate from classic-mode to claims-based authentication in SharePoint 2013 for information about how to migrate after upgrade.

Q: How do I prepare to upgrade? What needs to get cleaned up?

A: You want your environment to be in the healthiest state possible before you start the upgrade process. If you need to delete anything, move anything, recover anything, or turn anything off, do it before you backup your databases. Basically, it’s just like moving houses. Upgrade only what you need and not all the other stuff that tends to pile up. For example,

  • Delete any site collections or subsites you don’t need.
  • Check for long or wide lists.
  • Clean up extra document versions.

See Clean up an environment before an upgrade to SharePoint 2013 for details about what to look for and get rid of.

Q: How does this deferred site collection upgrade thing work?

A: Like you saw in the Keynote, the What’s new in IT Pro, and the Upgrade Overview sessions, you can now leave the site collections in 2010 mode after you upgrade the environment to 2013. Then when you’re ready to change to the new experience, you as the farm administrator, or the site collection administrator, can upgrade the site to 2013 mode. Here’s an article for site collection administrators on how to do it for their site: Upgrade a site collection to SharePoint 2013. And here’s an article on how to manage site collection upgrades if you are a farm administrator: Manage site collection upgrades to SharePoint 2013.

Q: There’s really no in-place upgrade?

A: No, for this release, you must use the database-attach upgrade method. Really.
Database attach is safer than an in-place upgrade was, and if you set the old environment to read-only, your users can still get at their information while you do it. See What’s New in SharePoint 2013 Upgrade for more info.

Q: How does database-attach upgrade work?

A: You back up the content and services databases from the 2010 farm, restore them to the 2013 farm, and then upgrade the services, and then the content. See the Upgrade process model (Download | Zoom) and the Overview of the upgrade process to SharePoint 2013 article for an overview of the process.

Q: Where's the best place to get started learning about upgrade?

A: The Upgrade and Migrate Resource Center on TechNet. Download or zoom into the upgrade process and upgrading testing model posters to get the big picture, and read the articles about how to upgrade.

Q: Number one piece of advice given?

A: Test, test, test the upgrade process. Don’t just dive in. When you test the upgrade process before you do it, you uncover things that might go wrong, have an opportunity to address them before your customers find them, and you build the operational experience so that the real upgrade goes more quickly and smoothly. It’s worth the time, money, and effort you spend! See the How to Test Upgrade model (Download | Zoom), and the Use a trial upgrade to SharePoint 2013 to find potential issues article for more information about how to test upgrade.

Hope this helps,

Samantha Robertson