SharePoint Migration Tool – A Brief Overview

Companies using Microsoft SharePoint end up with tons of data on on-premises SharePoint servers. Naturally, there comes a time when you have to move this data to the cloud. The Microsoft SharePoint Migration Tool (SPMT) is a free tool used by companies for migrating their data from on-premises SharePoint storage sites to Microsoft 365.  

The SPMT enables content migration to OneDrive, SharePoint, and Microsoft Teams from the SharePoint Server 2010, 2013, and 2016. It also supports migration from SharePoint Foundation 2010 and 2013. This migration is vital for leveraging security, intelligence, and collaboration solutions offered by Microsoft 365. 

This article gives a brief overview of the SharePoint Migration Tool, how it works, and its features.  

How it Works 

You need to take various steps to ensure a successful data migration from your SharePoint server. First, as with any migration strategy, planning your SharePoint migration is critical. You can download the SMAT (SharePoint Migration Assessment Tool) to facilitate the planning phase of your content migration.  

It is an easy-to-use command-line tool that identifies potential problems in your data migration by scanning your SharePoint Server 2013 farm. Once the tool identifies the issues, you can quickly fix them. Besides, this tool operates in the background and does not impact your production environment.  

Here’s how SPMT works.  


First, download and install the tool. When you open it, you’ll be asked to authenticate to the destination, also known as the tenant. This is where you will be migrating your content to. You’re also asked for the source file location and the destination SharePoint site collection.  

All the steps (scan, package, upload, and import) run simultaneously for all the files you wish to migrate once you select the “Migrate” option. 

You have to give your username and password to the tenant to link the migration jobs to this account. This enables you to continue the fileserver migration from a different device using the same credentials.  

The SPMT supports the following authentication methods. 

  • Kerberos 
  • NTLM 
  • ADFS 
  • Forms 
  • MFA (multifactor authentication) 
  • Client certificate authentication 
  • SAML-based claims 


The next phase is scanning all your files, even the ones you are not targeting for the SharePoint migration tool. This ensures that potential issues are identified. It also confirms your access to the data source. 


The SPMT creates a content package during the packaging stage. This package carries a manifest. 


During this stage, your content package and the manifest are uploaded to Microsoft Azure. These files and manifest are encrypted using the AES-256-CBC standard before being accepted for migration. 


During this phase, SharePoint and Azure interact to pull and migrate the data to the tenant. A key is given to SharePoint SAS. Moreover, a report is generated in the working folder; this is where live updates take place. Once your fileserver migration is complete, the log is placed in an Azure container and a final report is generated. 

Session and Resume 

The SharePoint migration tool records session information in a hidden list on the user’s OneDrive. Thus, it allows the tool to resume earlier migration sessions. 

Features of SharePoint Migration Tool

The SharePoint Migration Tool’s pros and cons enable the SharePoint migration tool of the following features and locations. 

  • It supports the migration of lists, files, and folders. 
  • You can set file share and SharePoint on-premises permissions. 
  • You decide what file history you want to be saved.  
  • It supports the migration of term stores and content types. 
  • A substantial set of site features are supported in the SPMT. 
  • You can migrate your SharePoint web parts and site descriptions 
  • You can save tasks and rerun them later on. This enables you to move only the updated or new files in the source location. 
  • It updates the taxonomy in incremental rounds. 


SharePoint data migration is a serious business. It needs to be properly planned, managed and executed. Ensuring a successful migration requires you to have proper resources and a good SharePoint migration tool. Make sure you plan your migration properly and have access to the necessary resources.

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