How to Move or Migrate Large SharePoint Document Libraries to Another Site or Site Collection with Metadata and Version History




This article focuses on how to moving large quantities of files and file sizes from SharePoint to another location in SharePoint such as a different document library, folder, site or site collection.


The Challenge


If you simply need to copy a few files or small number of files say less than 500 or a total size of less than 1 GB you might be able to do those using the How to Copy and Move files in SharePoint article.


Once again this article focuses on how to move large files and huge number of files. This sould be useful in the case of migrating content, reorganizing SharePoint content between sites and site collections, consolidating repositories, and doing backups.


What are my Options


The following options are discussed here:

  1. Moving Files Using Explorer View
  2. Using File Sync
  3. Using Third Party Migration Tools


Option 1 - Using Explorer View


This option is probably the easiest one to try. Explorer view is a tool that comes with classic view in SharePoint. Essentially the tool allows you to access you SharePoint library and documents the same way you would a regular folder on your drive. By doing so, you are able to open the source and destination locations using Explorer view and then do a drag and drop or copy and paste of the content between the two locations. Easy enough? Not necessarily.



It is usually best to start with this option as but not keep your hopes up to high as it may fail. This transfer relies on your local Internet connection. So if your Internet is slow then it will take a long time. It will also rely on zero interruptions. This means if you have to restart your computer or you accidentally stopped the transfer you would have to restart it all over again.


You may also experience timeout issues using this method as the connection is open for a long time and something may go wrong.


You will not transfer the meta-data associated with the files if copying between sites or site collections.


You will not transfer the version history associated with the files if copying between sites or site collections.


How to Use Explorer View:

  1. Navigate to the library you want to copy files from.
  2. Make sure you are in classic view. If you see the library tab in the Ribbon then you are in classic view. If you are not you may have to revert to classic view. You can do this by clicking on the bottom right link on the page called classic view.
  3. Click on Library Tab in the Ribbon
  4. Click the 'Open with Explorer' button. If the button is grayed out then you may be on a Mac and you're out of luck. If you are on Windows then try using IE 32 -bit.
  5. The library will now open as a regular folder.
  6. Open the destination area using Explorer view just like you did above.
  7. Now drag and drop the content of the source to destination from the newly opened windows.


Option 2 - Using File Sync Method


This is a neat method. But what is file sync you may ask? File sync is a feature SharePoint that allows you to sync a SharePoint library with your a local folder. The idea here is that you would sync both source and destination folders. So folder A would be a sync of the source library and Folder B would be a sync of the destination library. Once you issue the sync, you would wait for the sync to complete. After that you would drag the contents of folder A into folder B. The sync app will automatically detect that you added a huge number of files to folder B and will begin syncing that to SharePoint library. After waiting a long time, all those files will be synced (uploaded) to SharePoint destination.



  1. You don't have to worry about timeout issues like Explorer View
  2. Relatively easy to do



  1. Will not transfer metadata with the files such as modified, modified by, created and created by fields.
  2. Will not transfer the version history with the files.
  3. Relies on your computers uptime and uses local computer resources.
  4. May take a very long time to complete


How to Move files Using Sync Method


  1. First, go to the source document library location you want to copy from.
  2. Make sure you are in classic view, then click on the library tab at the top
  3. Click Sync
  4. This will prompt you to download and sync the files in this library to your local computer. Be careful as this may take a long time and you will need sufficient disk space to complete this if your library is large.

  5. Go to your destination document library that you want to move files to.
  6. Sync that library as well on a different folder.
  7. After both libraries are synced locally, copy the contents of source to the destination.
  8. After you do that you will need to wait for your desination library to sync back up to the server in SharePoint.


Option 3 - Use Tru Copy Add-in


You can install Tru Copy on your SharePoint environment. Tru Copy includes a migration tool that allows you to select files you want to move and then select a destination. The tool will then schedule a migration job to run on secure remote servers and notify you when the migration is complete. During this time you will be able to see what files go copied and any errors if any.



  1. Copy Process is Very fast
  2. Move does not depend on local computer to complete operations.
  3. File Versions will be preserved.
  4. File Metadata will be preserved.



  1. You must install a third party
  2. Not All Plans are Free
  3. You must be a site collection administrator to complete this


How to Move Migrate Files Using Tru Migrate



  1. Select the files you want to migrate
  2. Click on Migrate

  3. Select a destination

  4. Click Migrate, you will receive an email of the once the copy job starts
  5. You can check on the progress anytime without any dependency on your own machine.






We explored 3 different ways to migrate large files in SharePoint from one site collection to another or between sites. Those could be large number of files in the tens of thousands or huge file sizes that need to be moved.


The solution you pick really depends on your needs as each comes with its pros and cons.



Let us know your challenges and comments below.



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