Learn about upgrade for SharePoint 2013

SharePoint 2013

We are in the process of combining the SharePoint Server 2013 and SharePoint Server 2016 content into a single content set. We appreciate your patience while we reorganize things. See the Applies To tag at the top of each article to find out which version of SharePoint an article applies to.


Applies to: SharePoint Foundation 2013, SharePoint Server 2013

Topic Last Modified: 2016-12-16

Summary:Use this learning roadmap to understand the process and build expertise about upgrade for SharePoint 2013.

The process for upgrading to SharePoint 2013 is complex and has a lot of steps. You have to know a lot about your existing environment, and about how the process works, before you upgrade. This article can help you get a baseline understanding of what upgrade means for SharePoint products. It contains links to other articles that explain concepts, illustrate the process, and help you avoid pitfalls when you are ready to plan and then start an upgrade.

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This article is built like a college course curriculum: start with the prerequisites, then move through the Level 100 (introductory), 200 (intermediate), and 300 (advanced) sections.

We recommend that you read the articles in the order listed.

Get familiar with these concepts before you start learning about upgrade to SharePoint 2013.


Physical and logical architecture pieces

When you upgrade to SharePoint 2013 from SharePoint 2010, you first create a SharePoint 2013 environment. That environment has logical architecture pieces (such as web applications, service applications, and site collections) and physical architecture pieces (such as web servers and database servers).

These articles and posters explain the logical and physical architecture for SharePoint:

The Architecture design for SharePoint 2013 IT Pros Resource Center contains all of the above, plus more useful information about SharePoint 2013 architecture.

After reading these articles, you should understand what you want to have in place for SharePoint 2013. And it’ll also help you understand what pieces of the logical and physical architecture are involved in each stage of upgrade.


Content and service application databases

When you upgrade to SharePoint 2013, you perform what’s called a database-attach upgrade. You back up the databases from the SharePoint 2010 environment, and then restore and upgrade the databases to SharePoint 2013. SharePoint has several database types. Only some of the databases can be upgraded. The Databases model explains what they all are, what kind of information they store, and how big they typically are. Look for information in the model about the content databases and the service application databases in the model. These are the ones you’ll work with during upgrade.

In this section, you get familiar with the process of upgrade for SharePoint 2013.


SharePoint 2013 Products Upgrade Process model

The Overview of the upgrade process to SharePoint 2013 article contains illustrations and a video that give you a high-level overview of the whole process. The Upgrade Process model has all of the steps on one big page that you can print.

Use this article and poster to understand the overall upgrade process and what happens in each phase of the process.


Service application databases

Many of the service applications can be upgraded from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013. Each service application is a little bit different though, so you need to understand what can be upgraded and what won’t upgrade in the new environment. The Services upgrade overview for SharePoint Server 2013 article talks about these differences and what to expect.

After you read the article, you’ll know which service applications can be upgraded and any considerations to think about for each of those service applications.



Some things can make upgrade easier, and some things can make it harder. Read Best practices for upgrading to SharePoint 2013 to find out what you should and shouldn’t do if you want the best possible path.

Now that you understand the overall process, you probably want to know, well, how will it work for me? And by the way, how long will it take? The only way to know is to test it out with your own data. These articles help you do that.


SharePoint 2013 Products Upgrade Testing model

The article Use a trial upgrade to SharePoint 2013 to find potential issues tells you how to try out upgrade with a test copy of your data and look for potential issues. The How to Test Upgrade model has a summary of this article on one big page that you can print.

Test the upgrade process so that the actual upgrade goes smoothly and you do not have to recover from unexpected events. Testing upgrade is our number one recommendation. It’s the only way to predict how things will go, and the only way to save yourself from a 5:00 PM Sunday crisis about whether or not your sites will be online again on Monday morning. The more testing you do, the better off you’ll be.


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Every environment is different. That’s why we don’t have a simple formula for x amount of data = x amount of time. Test your environment, and use the information in Plan for performance during upgrade to SharePoint 2013 to figure out what your data is like and how long upgrade is likely to take. Is your hardware up to the task? Or is it going to be so slow you’ll wonder if it’ll ever get done? Find out before you’re on a deadline. Don’t forget to think about the performance after the upgrade. How much power will the SharePoint 2013 environment need?


List of common customizations

Customizations cause the most grief for people running upgrade. Be prepared with a plan. Use the article Create a plan for current customizations during upgrade to SharePoint 2013 to find out what you have in your environment, and how to approach upgrade for each type of common customization.

You’ve had the overview, you know what to watch out for, now how do you really do it? Here’s how.


Upgrade steps that an administrator performs

The chapter Upgrade databases from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013 has all of the steps to perform to upgrade the environment. There’s a checklist you can print out, and articles that cover each phase in the upgrade process.

Plus, there’s an article about how to migrate users from classic authentication to claims authentication so you can use all the new features that rely on claims authentication.


Upgrade steps that site collection owners perform

New in SharePoint 2013, you can upgrade your databases, then upgrade the site collections on their own schedule. The articles Plan for site collection upgrades in SharePoint 2013 and Upgrade site collections to SharePoint 2013 explain this process. And then you can decide whether you want to control the whole process yourself, or let your site collection owners help themselves.


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Even with the best preparation, sometimes things go wrong. Some of the most common problems are in the articles Troubleshoot database upgrade issues in SharePoint 2013 and Troubleshoot site collection upgrade issues in SharePoint 2013. Use these articles to understand how to approach and troubleshoot issues when something goes wrong.


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We have test lab guides that walk through creating a test lab of SharePoint 2010. Why not use them to create a test environment and try stuff out? It won’t be an accurate representation of your environment, so you can’t rely on it for performance testing or finding issues, but you can run upgrade over and over until you know the steps well.

Use the SharePoint Server 2010 Single Server or Three-Tier Farm test lab guides to create a test lab that mimics key aspects of your SharePoint Server 2010 environment. Then use part 4 of the Test Lab Guide: Configure SharePoint Server 2013 in a three-tier farm to create a 2013 server named APP2, add it to the existing 2010 farm, and then upgrade the SharePoint Server 2010 test lab content to SharePoint 2013 using the procedures in Upgrade to SharePoint 2013.

This way you can have hands-on experience with the upgrade process in a simple environment and work up to the real thing.


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SharePoint 2013 training for IT pros: Module 13: Upgrading to SharePoint 2013

These videos have lots of detailed information about the upgrade steps.

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Resource Center: Upgrade and migrate to SharePoint 2013 (IT pros)

This is a great entry point for all of the upgrade content.

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Upgrade guide: Upgrade to SharePoint 2013

This is the part of the library that has all of the upgrade content we have for SharePoint 2013.

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