Upgrading to SharePoint 2016

by Robi 16. September 2016 16:46

The upgrade to SharePoint 2016 is very similar to the upgrade made when transitioning to SharePoint 2013. In this article, I will describe some of the key steps when you upgrade to the new version.

Each SharePoint upgrade project consists of 5 major steps, but this article won't describe each step in detail. Rather than that, I will focus on some of the new features and the methods of performing an upgrade.

The upgrade methods that are available in SharePoint 2016, or better yet is available, is called »database attach«. This means we have to set up a parallel farm with our existing SharePoint 2013 environment, as the »in-place« upgrade isn't available anymore. If you have an older version of SharePoint and you wouldn't like to make any additional steps by first upgrading to SharePoint 2013, you can use 3rd party tools for content migration, such as Quest, Metalogix, Idera, AvePoint, …

The database attach method means we first have to make a backup of the SharePoint 2013 databases, restoring them to a SQL Server for SharePoint 2016 and then appending the to your SharePoint 2016 environment. However, not every database is supported for a »db attach« upgrade from the previous version of SharePoint.

In order to make an upgrade to SharePoint 2016, we need to create a new web application. As a best practice, I would recommend first successfully creating a web application and then removing and deleting the newly created database, because we will be restoring the SharePoint 2016 database.

To restore the database, you can use the following SQL script. But first, you should of course adjust the parameters so they will fi tinto your environment.

USE [master]

RESTORE DATABASE [SP2016_Content_2013Upgrade] FROM DISK = N'E:\SQL\Backup\Sp2013_Content_upgrade.bak' WITH FILE = 1, MOVE N'SP2010_Content_Razvoj_DB' TO N'E:\SQL\Data\SP2016_Content_2013Upgrade.mdf', MOVE N'SP2010_Content_Razvoj_DB_log' TO N'E:\SQL\Logs\SP2016_Content_2013Upgrade.LDF', NOUNLOAD, STATS = 5




After restoring the database, you also need to make corrections to rights on the database. Otherwise, errors could occur during the upgrade because of insufficient rights of your service accounts on the database.

If you have already made a backup of the database to a SQL server, you can open the SharePoint 2016 Management Shell and test the database on the newly created web application:

Test-SPContentDatabase -Name SP2016_Content_2013Upgrade

-WebApplication http://2016portal/

In the PowerShell windows, the test results are displayed in the following form:


You must be mindful of the »upgrade blocking« category. If it is set to True, the upgrade process can't be completed successfully. If you ran the test of the database on a web application that has a different authentication model, you would receive the following error:


This can happen if your SharePoint 2013 environment was configured with the classic method of authentication and you created the web application in SharePoint 2016 in »Claims«, which is the default method of authentication.


mount-SPContentDatabase -Name SP2016_Content_2013Upgrade -WebApplication http://2016portal


You can always check the progress of your upgrade in the Central administration. Once in the Central Administration, open the link in the left pane, called Upgrade and Migration and the Check Upgrade Status, where you can also see information about all the previous upgrades that took place in your SharePoint environment.


One of the more important information is where is your upgrade log located. If you open the »Logs« folder, you will find not only one, but two log files for an upgrade session. The first is an over overview of the entire upgrade, while the second one contains only errors that surfaced during the upgrade.

One of the new features I have to mention is, that the log files are now in ULS format, which means they are readable and easier to look into. Here is a sample ULS log:

While upgrading a database, Sharepoint 2016 automatically makes a site collection. If we would like to manually run a site collection upgrade, we need to include the following parameter in the database upgrade : »SkipSiteUpgrade«

mount-SPContentDatabase -Name SP2016_Content_2013Upgrade -WebApplication http://2016portal –SkipSiteUpgrade -verbose

When the upgrade is finished, you will notice that the site collection is already in Sharepoint 2016 mode. The difference between upgrading to version 2013 and 2016 is that we no longer make a site collection upgrade; everything is done during the database upgrade.

If everything went smoothly, you can now enjoy all of the new functionalities that SharePoint 2016 brings. Of course there are a few other details that need attention, especially in large environments with many site collections, but that is out of the scope of this article. If you are interested in other details about upgrading to SharePoint 2016, you can contact me at robi@kompas-xnet.si.


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