Sharepoint Upgrade Process Overview

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Two upgrade approaches are available for upgrading from Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 to Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 which are (i) In-place upgrade and (ii) Database attach upgrade. In-place upgrade lets you move all the Microsoft SharePoint sites on the same hardware but the database approach lets you move your content to a new farm or a desperate hardware. In addition, you may reduce downtime by merging up the In-place and database-attach upgrade.

In place upgrade enables you to install SharePoint Server 2010 on the same hardware, preserves your farm settings and makes customizations available after the upgrade. During the In-place upgrade, websites are available after the upgrade process whereas, in database attach upgrade, you will be allowed to upgrade content on a separate farm but you will not be able to upgrade any of the farm settings. You may upgrade multiple databases at the same time or upgrade them in any order that you want. This approach lets you combine several farms into a single farm. The database-attach approach is beneficial if you want to change your hardware or need to reconfigure your existing server farm topology during the upgrade process. With this approach, you detach the databases in your old farm and while you attach them to a new farm, the upgrade process runs and upgrades the entire database. This process is performed manually in a separate environment.

Plan your Upgrade Process

·         In-place upgrade

The in-place upgrade is performed on the same hardware as your previous version installation. With this upgrade approach, you will be able to upgrade the complete installation in the following order.

·         Run the Setup

As soon as the in-place upgrade process begins, the server administrator carries out the pre-upgrade checks, runs Setup for SharePoint Server 2010 on the server which runs the SharePoint Central Administration Website. As, the previous version has already been installed, the system selects the in-place upgrade automatically. After running the Setup on the server which hosts the Central Administration Web Site, the Server administrator can run the Setup on the Web servers and application servers in the farm.

·         Run the SharePoint Configuration Wizard

SharePoint Configuration wizard is run on the server that hosts the Central Administration website. This upgrade approach allows the server, configuration database, services and the content databases to be upgraded sequentially. As soon as the configuration wizard finishes, the Central Administration Website opens. For the upgrade process to run for each site collection, it is allocated a particular timer job which is scheduled. Each site collection is upgraded with the upgrade process timer job and upgrades all the sites until the upgrade process completes.

·         Run the Configuration Wizard on all the Server farms

Server administrator ensures and runs the configuration wizard on all the servers in the farm and confirms whether the upgrade has been performed successfully. Respective site owner or administrator can preview sites in the Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 look in case of Visual Upgrade, or when the site owner is ready, he/she can finish the change to the SharePoint Server 2010 look.

Database attach Upgrade

You can move to a new farm or hardware with database attach approach. You will detach all content databases from a current farm and attach them to a new server farm installation. While attaching the databases to a new farm, your upgrade process runs to upgrade the data in-place.

·         Set Up and Configure a new Server Farm

With database attach upgrade, the server administrator sets up and makes up a new SharePoint Server 2010 farm and transfers all customizations to the new farm. The new environment is also tested by the server administrator. With this approach, you will be upgrading the content of your environment but not the configuration settings.

·         Detach the old content databases from the old farm and attach them to the new farm

Server administrator can detach the content databases from the old Office SharePoint Server 2007 farm and turns all the services and components on each server computer in the farm. The old farm is made offline by changing the load balancer or IIS Web applications to avoid service requests. Content databases are attached to the new farm and content is upgraded by the server administrator. Once the server administrator authenticates the completion of upgrade, then he/she resumes by configuring the new farm to begin serving the request to the new URL.

Hybrid Approach 1 for Read-only Databases

You can provide a read only access for the data to the users while you are attempting the upgrade process. Actually, the content databases in the original farm are set to read-only mode. Replicas of databases are also upgraded on the new farm.

·         Configure a new SharePoint Server 2010 farm

Server administrator sets up your new SharePoint Server 2010 farm and transfers all customizations to the new farm while testing the environment.

·         Change the content database to Read only

After changing the content databases to read-only, the administrator makes use of SQL Server to back up the content databases residing on the Office SharePoint Server 2007 farm and restore them to the new farm.

·         Attach new content databases to the new farm

New copies of content databases are attached and the upgrade process is executed by the server administrators which simultaneously upgrades the content. Once the upgrade process is complete, it is verified by the server administrators. New farm is configured by the server administrator so that it would start serving the requests at the new URL. The original farm is also taken offline.

Hybrid approach 2 for detach databases

Speed up your upgrade process by detaching and attaching databases to upgrade several databases at once with Hybrid approach 2. Although, it is an in place upgrade as you are upgrading the original farm but you can also use the other farm to carry out the upgrade and then attach the upgraded databases to the original farm. The original farm will not be able to serve requests during upgrade.

·         Take the original farm offline

During the in-place upgrade with detached databases, the server administrator will take the original farm offline to stop service requests.

·         Detach content database and run an in-place upgrade on the original farm

Server administrator will detach the content databases from the original farm and runs an in-place upgrade on the original farm servers, services and configuration database. After, this process, the content databases are attached to the original farm and the content is upgraded.

·         Using a temporary small farm to run the upgrade

If you are using a small and different temporary farm for carrying out the upgrade process then you need to attach the upgraded databases to the original farm.

During an in-place upgrade with detached databases, the server administrator sets up a temporary and small farm which is currently running the new version. He/she takes the original farm offline and detaches the content database from the original farm. Once these are done, an in-place upgrade is run-on the original farm in order to upgrade the server, services along with configuration database. Afterwards, content databases are attached to the temporary farm and a parallel upgrade is performed. Content databases are reattached to the original farm and upgrade is confirmed by the administrator. The server administrator previews the sites in the Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 look, if Visual upgrade is used and completes the change to the Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 look.


Carrying out your upgrade with in place or database attach approach can be both beneficial but all depending upon your business requirements. In-place approach can be beneficial as it preserves all your farm settings with the SharePoint Server 2010 installation. You don’t have to configure the farm settings manually. Your content databases will be upgraded sequentially. With database attach approach; you need to set up a new environment to host your SharePoint 2010 Server. Once your new setup is up and running, the old environment will be made offline and all content databases will be moved to newer locations and upgraded at the same time. With database attach upgrade approach; you will be successful in minimizing the down time as you will be upgrading several databases at once. Hybrid approaches including in-place upgrade with detached databases or database attach upgrade with read only databases help in decreasing the downtime of your environment and the end users will not experience prolonged time of interruption of services.


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