SharePoint: Upgrade 2013 content to 2016

Performing an upgrade to SharePoint 2016 is relatively straight forward, but is not as easy as upgrading, say, Microsoft Office.  There are some considerations which must be taken into account before performing an upgrade.

Consideration#1: There is no direct upgrade from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2016
You can only upgrade from SharePoint 2013 content databases.  If you have a SharePoint 2010 installed, please upgrade to SharePoint 2013 first.  See this blog entry on how to upgrade to 2013.

Consideration #2: There is no in-place upgrade from SharePoint 2013
You must upgrade each content database using the Database Attach and upgrade Method.  This blog entry will cover the attach and upgrade method in detail.

Consideration #3: SharePoint 2016 does not support classic mode authentication.
In our experience, many SharePoint 2013 web applications still utilize classic mode authentication.  For content databases using classic mode authentication, you must migrate to Claims Based authentication before you begin migrating your data.  See the Dealing with legacy (classic mode) Authentication section at the end of this blog post before you start your migration process!

OK, Lets dive into the details
IMPORTANT: We strongly recommend reading all of the steps below *before* beginning the migration and upgrade process.  It’ll just make your life much easier Smile

Step#0 – Backup everything related to the content database you are migrating
Nuf’ said!

Step#1 – Attach the SharePoint 2013 content database to the new database server.
This step only applies if you are also migrating to a new database server during the SharePoint 2016 migration process. If you are not changing database servers, skip to step#2 as the content database will already be in place and ready to upgrade.

Step#2 – Create a new web application in SharePoint 2016

  1. Launch SharePoint 2016 Central Administration web site.
  2. Navigate: Application Management –> Manage Web Applications
  3. Click New on the ribbon
  4. Configure the new web application to replicate the web application being migrated
    NOTE: Take the default for Database Name which is “WSS_Content”

Step#3 – Delete the content database which was just created in Step#2
Yes, you read correctly, delete the content database.

  1. Launch SharePoint 2016 Central Administration web site.
  2. Navigate: Application Management –> Manage Content Databases
  3. Select the web application created in step#2 from the web application drop down located in the upper right of the browser
  4. Click on the Database Name which was created in step#2
    It should be named WSS_Content
  5. Scroll to the bottom of the database information page displayed and check the Remove Content Database checkbox
  6. Click the OK button

So, what is happening here?
SharePoint requires a target web application for ALL content databases. Why? Because the web application determines which features are supported and installed for all content hosted by that web application. When the actual migration process occurs, the upgrade software scans the content database for all of the features being used by the content (I.E. lists, document repositories, third party, web parts, etc.) and then determines if the target web application supports that feature.

The problem we encounter is that SharePoint has nicely created an empty content database which we are never going to use because we already HAVE a content database (the one we are migrating). So, we need to perform a little bit of cleanup work.

Step#4 – Validate the SharePoint 2013 content database can be upgraded
SharePoint provides a PowerShell comment which will validate the content database against the web application created in Step#3.

  1. Launch SharePoint 2016 Management Shell as an administrator
  2. Enter the following command

Test-SPContentDatabase
-Name <DatabaseName>
-WebApplication <URL>

Example:

Test-SPContentDatabase
-Name “WSS_Contoso2010ContentDB”
-WebApplication https://www.contoso.com

Review the output for any issues listed as Upgrade Blocked: Yes
Any issue listed as Upgrade Blocked will need to be corrected.
Google will be your dearest friend if you encounter Upgrade Blocked: Yes

Step#5 – Mount the database onto the web application created in Step#3
This step will upgrade and mount the database against your newly created web application

  1. Launch SharePoint 2016 Management Shell as an administrator
  2. Enter the following command

Mount-SPContentDatabase
-Name <DatabaseName>
-WebApplication <URL>

Example:

Mount-SPContentDatabase
-Name “WSS_Contoso2010ContentDB”
-WebApplication https://www.contoso.com

Step#6 – Reset and validate!
We recommend executing an IISRESET after each migration / upgrade is completed.
Then launch the SharePoint site to validate everything is running.

Dealing with legacy (classic mode) Authentication
Classic mode authentication has been officially depreciated by Microsoft.  If you are migrating a classic mode authentication based content database, you must convert the database to claims based authentication before migration (I.E. while the content database is still attached to SharePoint 2013).  You convert the database to claims based using the Convert-SPWebApplication PowerShell command. 

  1. Launch SharePoint 2013 Management Shell as an administrator
  2. Enter the following command

Convert-SPWebApplication
-Identity <URL>
-To Claims
-RetainPermissions

Example:

Convert-SPWebApplication
-Identity https://www.contoso.com
-To Claims
-RetainPermissions

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