Before moving content to Box, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure your content is ready. By following these steps, you'll increase the likelihood of a successful migration outcome and you'll be on your way to improved content collaboration and automation, security and compliance, and integration across the rest of your tech stack.
Consider following these steps as you plan your migration:
- Identify content to move to Box
- Define your migration requirements
- Prepare your content for migration
Identify content to move to Box
Start by considering all the teams that work with content. Take an inventory of all the source tools where that content resides today. You'll want to get a sense of how much content you have, specifically the volume of content (in gigabytes or terabytes) and the number of files if possible. Look for ways to label this content, for example: active vs. archival, personal vs. departmental, or internal vs. client-facing. This should be enough information to help you prioritize which content should move first.
These questions might help to determine your approach:
- What is the specific goal of your Box program?
- What upcoming deadlines impact your migration timeline?
- How will you define success in this migration?
A few general tips:
- Content vs. structured data: Box is a platform for sharing and collaborating on content and is not a good tool for backing up things like .PST files, databases or other blobs of structured data. Traditional backup systems are often better for those types of files.
- Break your project down: When assessing all of the content that you have to migrate, consider breaking down the volume into several phases or projects. Your approach for active content may be different than for archival content, and different teams or departments may have different requirements.
- Plan a timeline: Digital transformation never happens overnight, and the same can be said for a content migration project of any size. A timeline can be as simple as start and end dates on your calendar or as detailed as a Gantt chart with milestones.
Define migration requirements
Some migrations are as simple as moving the folders from one location to another. Others are not so simple. Migrations are often about migrating associated business processes along with the content itself. That means that wherever the content lives today, there are people that have access to that content and those access permissions may need to be reapplied after the migration. Or perhaps there are third party applications that connect to the source content -- those integrations may need to be recreated or reconsidered.
Here are some requirements to consider:
- Permissions: If there is one group of users that has access to everything in scope for migration, then recreating permissions will be fairly easy. However, if there are multiple groups with granular permissions at different levels of the folder structure, then more effort will go into applying permissions to migrated content.
- Content Archival: For source systems that have been around for awhile, existing content may be duplicate or obsolete. Consider using the migration as an opportunity to do some clean-up, create a Box folder structure for archival content, or potentially delete content to remove it from the migration scope altogether.
- Content Restructuring: Migrating off legacy systems often means moving off of a tool that has been used for a very long time. It's possible that the folder structure that was originally designed for this content is no longer the best way to organize it for the way people work today. Rather than bringing over a suboptimal folder structure, this may be a good time to reorganize the content to best enable work in Box.
- Custom Metadata: Whether it's used to connect to third party tools or enable a better search experience, your source content may have custom metadata that needs to move to Box. This is common in legacy ECM tools like Sharepoint, FileNet, Documentum, and others.
Once you have identified the content that needs to be migrated and defined your requirements, you should have a sense of the level of effort of your migration. Review the different options for migrating content to Box. Does your team have the tools, bandwidth, and resources to perform this migration? If you don't have everything that you need, Box Shuttle has solutions that range from free to paid, and from self-service to white glove managed migrations. Your account team can also be a resource to identify what migration path you should embark upon.
Prepare content for migration
Outside of broader migration requirements, there are some file or folder specific design constraints that are unique to Box migrations. Review the following considerations to determine what applies to the data you want to migrate. For more information on how to prepare content for migration, please refer to Troubleshooting Uploads to Box.
Rename Files and Folders
Not all content management systems work the same. When it comes to folder names, here are the considerations for Box:
- No two folders within the same parent can have the same name. For example, the “Magical Creatures” folder can have only one “Unicorn” folder.
- File and folder names cannot have leading spaces. So “ Narwhals” will need to be renamed to “Narwhals.”
Also be aware that if Windows does not support certain characters in file names, you may have trouble working with those files via Box Drive. See the list of Windows file name restrictions. Here are some to consider:
- Folder names shouldn't be longer than 100 characters.
- File paths shouldn't be longer than 255 characters.
- Ensure that the folder name does not contain a backslash (\) or forward slash (/).
There are specific file size limitations depending on your account type. Understand the maximum file size you can upload to Box. Files that exceed this limit cannot be uploaded to Box. You may be able to get around this by compressing the file or by splitting it into several smaller files. However, this step must be completed before you attempt to migrate the file.
It's common for some lines of business, like finance teams, to leverage linked spreadsheets, or design teams to utilize programs that link disparate files together. These links typically reference another file using the path to that file. If one of the folder names in the path to that file changes or is moved during migration, the link will break. However, in some cases just migrating the file to a new system can break the link because the path includes the full path, all the way to the drive letter or server name (in the case of file servers, for example).
It is possible to use Box with linked files (configuring the default Box Drive folder location is an important part of this solution), but note that these links will need to be updated to reflect their new location in Box before they will work.
If you're concerned that the content you want to migrate has a lot of linked files, we recommend working with Box Shuttle managed services to put together a plan for the migration. Additionally, your account team can put you in touch with a Box partner that can assist with updating these links in bulk.
When migrating large amounts of content to Box, it's easier to bump up against the guidelines that keep Box performant and quick. These are recommendations to keep Box running at peak performance, not hard and fast product limits:
- A single folder shouldn't contain more than 15,000 items. This doesn't include the contents of subfolders, just the number of immediate files or folders in a single folder.
- A single user should not own more than 1,000,000 items.
If you have questions about these guidelines, get in touch with your account team to learn more.