Upgrade a site collection to SharePoint Online 2013

 Note    This article explains the upgrade process for SharePoint Online. If you’re looking for information about upgrading your Office 365 subscription to the 2013 experience, see the Office 365 Upgrade Center.

When your SharePoint Online site collection is ready to be upgraded, you’ll see a pink banner across the top of your screen, much like the example shown here:

Upgrade message in SharePoint Online

This banner indicates that your global administrator has taken the necessary steps to enable the upgrade and you can now take advantage of the latest SharePoint Online 2013 features and improvements.

Within the banner text you’ll see two upgrade options: Go to the upgrade page now or Remind me later. If you choose Go to the upgrade page now, you’ll go to a separate page where you can start the actual upgrade or test the upgrade process by building an evaluation site. If you choose Remind me later, the notification bar will appear at the top of the page each time you access the site collection.

Frequently asked upgrade questions

  • What if I don’t see a banner? If you don’t see a pink banner across the top of your screen, it means your site collection is not yet ready for upgrade. Talk to your admin or IT department to find out when your upgrade is scheduled.
  • What if I don’t want to upgrade? An upgrade banner means that your global administrator has already begun the upgrade process for the tenant so you’ll need to upgrade to ensure that your site collection can take advantage of newly enabled features and to maintain consistency across the tenant. If the timing of the upgrade is causing concern, speak to your global administrator or IT department to schedule a convenient time.
  • How much does the upgrade cost? There is no additional cost for the upgrade. All service upgrades are included with your subscription to ensure that you always have the latest that the service has to offer.
  • What’s a site collection? A site collection is a group of web sites that share a common set of administration settings, such as user permissions and navigation. The collection is hierarchical and includes a top-level site with one or more sub sites beneath it. SharePoint Online site collections take the form of team sites, publishing sites, MySites, and so on. To learn more about site collections in Manage site collections and global settings in the SharePoint admin center.
  • I understand that some sites are being upgraded automatically, is that true? Yes. During calendar year 2014 we will run all SharePoint Online 2010 site collections—with the exception of public site collections—through an automatic update process. The process will begin with MySites, and you will be notified in advance. See this site upgrade wiki for more information.

Overview of the upgrade process

The upgrade process consists of four steps. It takes time so you’ll want to do some up-front planning to ensure it goes smoothly. Although only one of the upgrade steps is required, we do recommend that you perform a site collection health check and an upgrade to the MySite Host before proceeding with any site collection upgrades.

  1. Check the health state of your site collection (recommended)
  2. Create an evaluation site to preview the differences between versions (optional)
  3. Begin the upgrade with the MySite Host (recommended)
  4. Start the actual upgrade (required)

This article walks through all of these upgrade steps.

Check the health state of a site collection

New in SharePoint Online 2013, the site collection pre-upgrade health check examines a site collection and generates a report listing any potential upgrade issues and how to address them. For example, if a default file in SharePoint Online has been customized, it will be flagged so you can identify the custom file and, if you want, reset it to the default template in the site definition.

To check the health of a site collection:
  1. Go to Settings Settings button > Site settings > Site Collection Administration > Site collection health checks.
  2. On the Run site collection health checks page, click Start checks. After the checks run, you’ll be presented with a report listing issues found and issues checked.
  3. Click the Tell me more link to the right of each issue and follow the steps given. Then click Try it again to verify that each issue has been fixed. Once everything passes the check, you’ll receive a clean bill of health for your site collection and will look something like this:

Site Collection Health Check Results

 Note    If you begin the upgrade process without running a pre-upgrade health check, a health check will be run automatically prior to upgrading the site collection. Any issues found will be displayed in the health check report as described above.

Create an evaluation site collection

An evaluation site collection lets you preview your site content in the latest version of SharePoint Online. The preview is a separate site collection, so unlike what you might have experienced in Visual Upgrade in SharePoint 2010, any actions you take in the evaluation site collection will have no effect on the original.

It’s not necessary to create an upgrade evaluation site for every site collection. However, if you have any sites that have been customized or sites that are running as sandboxed solutions, you should create an upgrade evaluation site for them in order to test any customizations and to make sure they’re compatible in the new version.

To create a preview site:
  1. Go to Settings Settings button > Site settings > Site Collection Administration > Site collection upgrade.
  2. On the Set up to SharePoint 2013 page, click Try it out before you take the leap. This option starts the process of generating an evaluation site collection (the preview site size limit is 20 GB.)
  3. In the Create Upgrade Evaluation Site Collection box, click Create Upgrade Evaluation Site Collection. A box opens and informs you that a demo site collection request has been received.
  4. Click Close to close the box.

You’ll receive an email notification when the evaluation site collection is available. The email message will contain a link to the site collection along with an expiration date. The collection is temporary so you’ll want to review it right away to confirm that everything looks and behaves as you expect. Evaluation site collections typically expire after 30 days, although this is configurable by the global administrator, so any changes made will be lost upon expiration. If the evaluation site collection expires before you’ve finished evaluating the changes, you can request another but will have to wait until after expiration to make your request.

After experimenting with the evaluation site collection, make the desired changes to your original site collection and then proceed with the upgrade.

Begin the upgrade with the MySite host

 Important    Automatic updates to the MySite host will begin in 2014. Admins will be notified of the upgrade schedule so check the SharePoint Online admin center regularly for update alerts. If your MySite host has been upgraded automatically, you can skip this section. If you want to upgrade the MySite host prior to the automatic upgrade, follow the steps below. Note that we are not updating public site collections as part of the automatic upgrade effort.

SharePoint Online 2013 includes lots of new social features that enable users to blog, follow and post to newsfeeds, join communities, and so on. Additionally, all users receive a OneDrive for Business library with 25 GB of storage space for storing documents, photos, videos, and so on. The OneDrive for Business site is accessible only by people within your organization or with invited guests who can log in to Office 365.

We strongly recommend you begin your upgrade with the MySite host. Delaying the MySite host upgrade could lead to errors for users who attempt to move documents from their MySite library to OneDrive for Business and for new users who attempt to access their MySites. MySites can’t be provisioned for new users until the MySite host has been upgraded.

Note: The SharePoint Online 2013 master page will supersede any custom master page currently in use on your host. Make sure you test all customizations and re-create them as necessary in 2013 to ensure your OneDrive for Business sites work as expected.

Once you upgrade the MySite host, users can upgrade and customize their individual MySites/OneDrive for Business sites in order to start enjoying the new features. Be advised that the process of updating individual MySites is not automatic, and users will have to add their own themes or other customizations regardless of what you applied on the MySite host.

For example, here is the Newsfeed page of a site (Newsfeed is the MySite host). The master page was changed and a green theme added.

Newsfeed Master

At the local MySite below, however, neither the master page nor theme changes carried over. The owner of this MySite will have to customize the page manually.

MySite View

To upgrade your MySite host:
  1. Sign into Office 365.
  2. Navigate to My Newsfeed (this is the MySite host).
  3. Click Go to the upgrade page now in the pink banner at the top of the screen. If you see a blank page with a block of arrows, stars, and other symbols, don’t worry. The upgrade is progressing.
  4. When you see the screen that says the upgrade completed successfully, click What’s New.
  5. You’ll see the Stay Connected screen. Here you can change themes or begin other supported customizations as desired.

Upgrade other site collections

After running the pre-upgrade health checks, optionally reviewing an evaluation site collection, and upgrading the MySite Host, you’re ready to upgrade your site collection to SharePoint Online 2013. During the upgrade, users will be prevented from making any changes to the sites within the site collection. An upgrade status page will be displayed that shows when the upgrade started, the status of the upgrade, any errors or warnings, and where to find the upgrade log files.

To upgrade a site collection:
  1. Go to Settings Settings button > Site settings > Site Collection Administration > Site collection upgrade.
  2. On the Set up to SharePoint 2013 page, click Upgrade Now. This option starts the process of upgrading your site collection.
  3. In the Create Upgrade Evaluation Site Collection box, click Create Upgrade Evaluation Site Collection if you haven’t already created an evaluation site and previewed what your site will look like if you upgrade. A box opens to verify that you want to begin the process.
  4. Click I’m ready to start the actual upgrade.

The upgrade starts, and the upgrade status page for the site collection is displayed. This page automatically refreshes every minute while the upgrade is in progress and displays information about the process, such as any issues that have occurred, when the upgrade started, and where to find the upgrade log file. It’s a good idea to save this log file so you can refer to it later as needed. After the upgrade completes, the Upgrade Status page is displayed in the new user interface, and you’ll see an Upgrade Completed Successfully message if the upgrade completed successfully. For more information about troubleshooting site collection upgrade issues, see Troubleshoot site collection upgrade issues.

 Note    Depending on the number of site collection upgrades in the queue, your upgrade may not start immediately. If this is the case, you will see a “waiting to start” message and your site collection upgrade will begin as soon as the upgrades ahead of you in the queue have completed.

  1. Click Let’s see the new site to go to the home page.

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Additional resources

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Applies to:
SharePoint admin center, SharePoint Foundation 2013, SharePoint Online Enterprise (E1), SharePoint Online Enterprise (E3 & E4), SharePoint Online Midsized Business, SharePoint Online operated by 21Vianet - Enterprise (E1 & E2), SharePoint Online operated by 21Vianet - Enterprise (E3 & E4), SharePoint Online operated by 21Vianet - Midsized Business, SharePoint Online operated by 21Vianet - Small Business, SharePoint Online Small Business, SharePoint operated by 21Vianet - admin center, SharePoint Server 2013 Enterprise, SharePoint Server 2013 Standard