How to Prepare for a Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Upgrade

By Joel Oleson  |  Posted 2010-03-25

How to Prepare for a Microsoft SharePoint 2010 Upgrade

Microsoft SharePoint 2010 has generated a lot of interest among IT professionals and, although it won't be generally available for awhile yet, there are some steps you can take to prepare to upgrade to Microsoft SharePoint 2010. Each of the following six steps is integral to a successful upgrade. They are all common sense steps that may take a little time to complete, but will be worth the effort when your upgrade runs smoothly.

Step No. 1: Make sure you have 64-bit hardware for your SharePoint servers and SQL Server

Most SharePoint installations currently run on Windows Server 2003 in 32-bit mode; however, they will require 64-bit Windows Server 2008 or 64-bit Windows Server R2 to utilize SharePoint 2010. SQL Server also will require 64-bit mode on SQL Server 2005 or SQL Server 2008. Don't forget about your virtual environment-Virtual Server and Virtual Desktop both support only 32-bit images, so you will need Windows Server 2008 Hyper V to support the virtual images commonly used in SharePoint development, testing and production environments.

Step No. 2: Upgrade your current installation to SharePoint Service Pack 2

This is one of the most important things you can do to prepare to run PreUpgradeCheck (included in SP 2), the free Stsadm command that is key to providing guidance on upgrade requirements and determining whether your upgrade will be successful. Service Pack 2, or one of the newer cumulative updates, is required for running PreUpgradeCheck.

Step No. 3: Discuss Office 2010 with the desktop team

If you are still running Windows XP and Office 2003, now is a good time to consider an upgrade to Office 2010 and Windows 7. Office 2010 provides the richest SharePoint integration available so far, as well as the best innovations for editing office clients since Office 97. Windows 7 is widely considered the best operating system ever.

During your discussions, don't forget to include the possibility of using Office Web Applications, which are versions of Office applications available by subscription from the cloud. Office Web Applications can be cost-effective, save time and improve your organization's productivity.

Copy Your Environment with SP2

Step No. 4: Copy your environment, including all customizations and other files, with SP2

It is imperative to have a copy of your existing environment in the event anything goes wrong during the upgrade. Be sure to test all of your backups before you start the upgrade so you can restore your existing environment, if necessary.

Step No. 5: After you have a copy of your environment in an image, run PreUpgradeCheck

This Stsadm command is built on the best practices analyzer and is the best free tool available to help you understand the current state of your environment. You will get a rich, Web-based HTM report, with a full log of detailed information about each check performed. The HTM report contains the real meat of the PreUpgradeCheck, with content divided into two categories: information and configuration, and customizations and dependencies.

Read the details of the HTM report, as well as the log, and address as much as you can in the virtual environment. PreUpgradeCheck is a read-only operation that does not write, so don't be afraid to run the command; it won't make any changes to your current environment.

Step No. 6: Reevaluate and clean up your information architecture

Unnecessary content that is just taking up space in the environment will slow down the upgrade process. The more optimized your environment, the faster and smoother your upgrade will be. So, before you start, get rid of unused sites and site collections, as well as orphaned sites, lists and objects identified in the PreUpgradeCheck. Also, remove locks and increase the quotas for sites that are at or near capacity, and remove or add missing features and Web part assemblies identified in PreUpgradeCheck.

Also, make sure you finalize previous upgrades, and reset pages and sites back to site definition, if necessary. Be sure to address any improper development, testing environments or resources for your customizations.

Joel Oleson is a Senior Architect and SharePoint evangelist at Quest Software where he is responsible for product direction and strategy. In the SharePoint community, Joel is a well-known, enthusiastic trainer and architect, and he maintains a popular blog. Joel is a frequent speaker at technical conferences and often presents to local SharePoint user groups. Prior to Quest, Joel worked for Microsoft where he was part of the first Microsoft global deployment of SharePoint. He can be reached at

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