We have been using BitTitan’s MigrationWiz for many years now. One reason is that it’s one of the only migration tools that works equally well in Microsoft 365 commercial, GCC and GCC High.
We’ve also used products from SkyKick, CodeTwo, and others – but BitTitan is still the clear favorite. When we provide our full-service migration service we include it at no extra cost, or we can sell you the licenses directly.
Even so, there are a few things to keep in mind. I guess nobody’s perfect.
If you are planning a migration using BitTitan’s tools, and there will be files to migrate, you need to purchase the “user migration bundle” (about $15/user) not the “e-mail migration” license (about $12/user). The user bundle includes both DeploymentPro and file migration. It’s vital to realize that you need the user bundle for all the users with files to move, not just the people who have a Windows PC.
The cheaper option is only viable in cases where there’s only a mailbox. If you make the mistake of taking the cheaper option, you’ll end up missing out on more than half the functionality that BitTitan has to offer while spending 80%. Worse, you may come back and end up buying licenses again. Spending $27 per user – nearly double the cost – is a hard lesson to learn.
BitTitan’s migration tools come in parts with different names. Using the product requires understanding how each one is used for. Let’s take a look.
BT E-mail to E-mail migration should be obvious enough. This is what you’ll use to copy user e-mail. It’s also the tool of choice for copying Shared Mailboxes as well as the e-mail stored in a mail-enabled Office 365 Group or Team. Any of those latter options will come up if you’re migrating from Microsoft 365 commercial to GCC or GCC High.’
However, you might also need those in cases where you’re converting a classic group or role-based mailbox (like “email@example.com”) to one of the better suited options for such e-mails in Microsoft 365. The usual workflow in this case would be to migrate the mailbox first to a Shared Mailbox and then convert it to a mail-enabled Group / Team.
BT Files to Files migration is how you would move files into OneDrive for Business, but also Teams and/or SharePoint. It’s significant to point out that it can be a pain to configure. Instead of a setting up a source and a destination with many users like you would with e-mail, you will have to create a source-destination pair for every user’s individual OneDrive as well as every Team and every SharePoint site collection. (Teams creates a site collection behind every Team.) This is required for any file source, including when you’re moving files from a local shared folder, G-Suite, Microsoft 365, or elsewhere. Depending on how you feel about this extra work, you might want to consider other tools and techniques.
In some cases, copying files with BitTitan requires you to have Azure storage containers configured. You should keep in mind that these will come at additional storage cost, so you’ll want to clean up afterwards to avoid spending that extra money for no good reason.
DeploymentPro is a tool that helps to switch Outlook over from one provider to another, and it can be useful when you need to do a cut-over migration for a larger number of users where it will be difficult to help each person all at once. But DeploymentPro isn’t useful in every scenario, and it doesn’t always work correctly. You really need to understand this tool’s strengths and weaknesses to leverage it effectively.
Despite their flaws, BitTitan’s tools are still among the best and worth the money.
Migration Manager, SharePoint Migrator, and Mover
In the early days of Office 365, there weren’t a lot of great options for migrating files into the platform. A host of third-party tools for moving documents into SharePoint Online and OneDrive emerged. We even built one of our own that’s based in PowerShell. Eventually, Microsoft threw its hat in the ring also, building free tools to help customers make the journey to the Microsoft cloud.
Free tools are about what you’d expect them to be. They can be difficult to use. The functionality is limited. They’re not well supported. They have one overwhelming advantage, and that’s price.
Let’s explore the free file migration tools Microsoft provides. (We’ll leave Microsoft e-mail migration tool be for now; it had shortcomings that led us to seek alternatives a long time ago.)
Migration Manager is the tool used to copy files from conventional shared folders to Office 365. If your organization is small, you may do just as well to copy your files by hand using OneDrive’s Sync linked to a SharePoint document library. If you have a lot of files to migrate, many individual file shares, or files distributed across a large organization, then Migration Manager may be a better option.
SharePoint Migrator, briefly called SP Mover, is like Migration Manager and is used to migrate files stored in on-premises or hosted versions of SharePoint Server. It does not do SharePoint Online to SharePoint Online (e.g. tenant-to-tenant) or other cloud file systems. At one point, there may have been a version of SP Mover than included this capability, but if it ever existed it’s no longer available.
Mover is the latest addition to Microsoft’s tool set. Found online at https://mover.io, Mover was acquired by Microsoft in late 2019. Microsoft provides Mover free of charge for users moving to Microsoft 365. (We can only speculate if they still offer the reverse capabilities for those leaving the platform, or third-party cloud to third-party cloud moves.)
The feedback we have received from our migration team tells us that Mover truly isn’t ready for prime time. There are complaints that the interface leaves a lot to be desired and the platform is unstable. This leads to frequent interruptions of the copy process, driving up the amount of time needed to babysit the migration and mitigate issues. Microsoft may improve Mover in time, but as of summer of 2021 the quality and reliability were not there yet.
ShareGate was a late comer to the SharePoint migration tool market, but they quickly gained steam as a cost effective and well-crafted alternative to more expensive enterprise products like AvePoint and MetaLogix Content Matrix.
That being said, ShareGate is not cheap. They now offer their product on an annual subscription basis, and the price has doubled since the days when the product entered the market for less than three thousand dollars. It isn’t priced well for SMB customers, but it is well within reach for larger organizations. Plus, the way the product is licensed makes life difficult for migration consultants, since the license is attached to the end-customer and can’t be used on multiple migration projects.
ShareGate is ideal for SharePoint Online to SharePoint Online (tenant-to-tenant) migrations like moving from commercial Office 365 to GCC or GCC High.
Assuming you have your file migration plan prepped and ready to go, you can leverage the free trial version for 14 days. If you have a lot of data to move, that’s not a lot of time. However, if you have a small or midsize business and the amount of content is reasonable, then this is a viable option. It is waste to activate the trial if you aren’t fired up and ready to go.
It is worth mentioning that ShareGate continues to innovate and support the tech community. For example, they’ve recently released a tool to migrate Teams chat history between tenants. They were even nice enough to post on their blog how to do this the hard way.
Tools for Teams Chat Migration
Once you’ve taken care of e-mail and files, you might be tempted to think you covered everything. However, there are some scenarios that come up often for those moving from Microsoft 365 commercial cloud to GCC and GCC High. The ability to migrate chat messages in Teams is one that has gotten a lot of attention lately.
Migrating Teams chat is a whole different animal. We won’t lie. The options for doing this are not great.
Aside from the aforementioned tool by ShareGate, you can also migrate Teams chat from one Team to another - or one tenant to another – using a few different methods. One method is to connect to the Team chat by connecting it to Outlook, then copy the messages from there. Another method involves requesting an export file from Microsoft, but this so far only seems to apply to the personal Teams that uses Microsoft accounts and not Office 365. ShareGate describes a complex process that uses PowerShell and the Teams API to copy the data; it would be difficult to deploy at scale and impossible without some programming prowess.
Personal chat history in Teams is stored using a completely different method from the chat in Temas. (This is one compelling argument to use the Teams channels for chat rather than personal chat one-on-one or in a small ad hoc group.) You can use a browser plug in to expand the web version of your chat history and then save that file to PDF, but you can’t migrate the chat history itself.
One other note, users will need to repopulate the favorite contacts in Teams once they arrive in the new tenant. Like most of their Teams preferences, this is not something that can be automatically migrated.
Other Migration Tools
There are other products on the market, but many have downsides.
For example, there was at least one file migration tool that nukes all the meta-data such as Created On, Modified On, and Created By.
The last thing you want to hear in a discussion with your tool vendor is “What’s GCC?”, but that’s exactly what happened when we evaluated an e-mail migration tool offered by a European software publisher. In that case, we were unable to get that product to connect to the GCC tenant.
In fact, many tools on the market don’t work properly with GCC or GCC High. For those that do, there is also the question of how your data is processed and where it resides. Truly it’s best to stick to vendors who make support for GCC and GCC High a clear feature of their product.
Do you have a question or comment about a migration tool that we haven’t discussed here? Please reach out to us and let us know. We’re always testing new tools, looking for ways to improve our process. If we have experience with one that we didn’t mention, we’re happy to share it. We’re also happy to learn about new products and will be perfectly happy to write a review so you don’t have to take the time to evaluate the product yourself.