Upgrading to SharePoint 2013

by Robi 8. August 2013 09:44

Upgrading from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010 has been significantly improved and there were no major issues like with upgrading from SharePoint 2003 to SharePoint 2007. Upgrade to SharePoint 2013 has also been vastly improved but it also brings some new stuff that I would like to point out.

Figure 1: 5 major steps in upgrade process

Every SharePoint upgrade project should consist of the 5 major steps, but I'm not going to discuss what every step of every upgrade project should be. I'm going to concentrate on what is new and how can you actually perform an upgrade.

Upgrade methods that are available in SharePoint 2013 upgrade process are or should I say is database attach method. There is no other supported upgrade method in the version to version upgrades. What this means is that you need to establish a side to side farm with your existing SharePoint 2010 environment, as earlier versions of SharePoint are not supported for direct upgrade to SharePoint 2013. If you have an earlier version of SharePoint and you do not want to make additional upgrade steps to SharePoint 2010, you can use 3rd part migration tools as Metalogix, Idera, AvePoint,…

Database attach method means backing up you SharePoint 2010 databases, restoring them to you SQL Server for SharePoint 2013 and mounting those to your SharePoint environment. But not every database supports db atttach upgrade from previous version of SharePoint.

Support database attach upgrade

Not supporting database attach upgrade

Content databases

Configuration database

Project databases

Search Index database

Search admin database

Sync database

Social database


Profile database


Managed Metadata database


Secure store database


Firstly, to perform a database attach method for content database we need to create new web application in SharePoint 2013. As a best practice I would recommend removing newly created database, as we are going to attach one. If you have already restored content database to your SQL Server, you can then open SharePoint 2013 Management Shell and test the content database against the newly created web application:

Test-SPContentDatabase -Name SP02_WSS_Content_Upgrade -WebApplication http://2013upgrade/

In your PowerShell window you will get a result from your test back.

Figure 2: Test-SPContentDatabase

You should be aware of upgrade blocking category as if this is set to true, your upgrade process won't be able to complete. If you test your content database to a web application that has a different authentication provider set than your content db, you would get an error like the following:

Figure 3: Test-SPContentDatabase against Claims Web Application

This may happen if your SharePoint 2010 environment was configured with Classic mode authentication and you created Claims web application in SharePoint 2013, which is the default authentication method.

To create classic mode web application in SharePoint 2013 you need to do it in PowerShell using a command similar to this:

New-SPWebApplication -Name SP2013_Upgrade -ApplicationPool SP2013Upgrade_AppPool -ApplicationPoolAccount dev\sp2013_app_pool -HostHeader 2013Upgrade -Port 80 -Url http://2013upgrade -DatabaseName SP2013_Content_2013Upgrade -Verbose

Once all issues from your test are resolved you can start an upgrade process by using the following command

Mount-SPContentDatabase -Name SP02_WSS_Content_Upgrade -WebApplication http://2013upgrade/ -Verbose

When command completes, you are notified about the success of you upgrade process. In my case there were some errors thrown because of missing features for Report Server:

Figure 4: Mount-SPContenDatabase

You can always check progress of your upgrade process in Central administration. So if you go to central admin, Upgrade and Migration, Check upgrade status you will see status of all your previous upgrade sessions with some basic data.

Figure 5: Central Admin Check Upgrade Status

One of the most important information you can get is where your upgrade log is located. If you go to your logs folder, you will find not only one but 2 log files. One is whole upgrade log file and the other one is just error log file.

One of the new things that I must mention here is that log files are now in ULS format, this means that they are easily readable and easier for review. Sample of ULS log is shown here:

Figure 6: Upgrade Error Log

With database upgrade completed, SharePoint upgrade is not completed yet. In SharePoint 2010 after an upgrade we had to do a so called Visual Upgrade which upgrades visual experience. In SharePoint 2013, we do not have visual upgrade, but we need to do the Deferred Site Collection upgrade. What this means is that site collection upgrades are separated from database upgrades and that every site collection admin can now control when he or she would like their site collection to be upgraded. Before site collection upgrade you actually use SharePoint 2010 binaries and in effect cannot use any new features SharePoint 2013 has to offer.

Figure 7: Site collection after database upgrade


After upgrade and when connecting to your upgraded sites you can see that you are still in SharePoint 2010 mode. The only difference you can notice is that there is a red notification bar on top of portal.

To be able to use all SharePoint 2013 features you need to do a deferred site collection upgrade, which as mentioned before is a new concept. With that said, there are also two more new concepts



introduced for site collection upgrades which are called Upgrade evaluation site collection and Site Collection Health Checker.

Figure 9: Links for Health checks and site collection upgrade

Site collection health checks should be run before you try to upgrade site collection. This tool will provide you information about any potential issues and that you can then address before you start upgrading your site collection.

Figure 10: Health check results


Figure 11: Upgrade site collection or create evaluation site collection

Before you actually run site collection upgrade, you can use one more option to test if everything works as expected. This is called evaluation site collection, which essentially is a read only copy of your existing site collection, which you can use to review the new interface and new functionalities. Evaluation sites are automatically expired and deleted after certain amount of time, which by default is set to 30 days.

Finally we are about to start the site collection upgrade. As mentioned before you can do this by clicking Upgrade this site collection button as seen on figure 9. The second option is of course using PowerShell.

Upgrade-SPSite -Identity http://2013upgrade -VersionUpgrade


Figure 12: Maintanance logs

After upgrade process is completed you can also check logs to see if there are any issues that need to be resolved. This log files are located at http://2013upgrade/_catalogs/MaintenanceLogs.

If everything went smoothly you are now able to enjoy all new features that SharePoint 2013 has to offer. There are of course some other details that need to be discussed, especially in large environments where there are plenty of site collections but this is out of scope of this article.



SharePoint 2010 | SharePoint 2013 | SharePoint - Administration | PowerShell

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