Determine SharePoint 2010 Upgrade Approach

In-place and database attach upgrade are two basic approaches that need to be selected to upgrade from Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 to Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. Planning the right upgrade approach suitable for your organization carries a lot of importance. These methods of upgrade have their pros and cons with concern for downtime and hardware costs etc. Generally, downtime needs to be minimized during an upgrade but realistically several parameters affect the downtime, all depending upon the upgrade model chosen, performance of server, farm size and databases.

Upgrade Approaches

An in-place upgrade approach is quite simple as you can install SharePoint 2010 on the same machine. This approach enables you to upgrade the server farm settings along with the content in a single process. With in-place upgrade approach, farm wide settings are preserved and customizations are available after the upgrade but servers and farms are offline during the process.
With database attach upgrade approach you can upgrade the content on a separate server farm. This is a faster upgrade process. Farm settings are not upgraded so you have to transfer settings and customizations manually to migrate from the old farm.  The primary consideration of the database attach upgrade approach is that you may merge several server farms in one server. You can upgrade several databases at the same time in any order.

Improving Upgrade Performance

In order to improve the upgrade performance and reduce downtime, certain mitigation techniques may be applied to achieve an optimal upgrade.

With parallel upgrade, you can speed up your upgrade process by attaching and upgrading multiple databases at the same time. The processing time and number of parallel upgrades rely upon the hardware. Parallel upgrade is a manual process and involves additional steps with monitoring.

Another useful method is the Hybrid technique which can be divided into Hybrid plan 1 and Hybrid plan 2. In Hybrid plan 1: Content will be provided a read only access during upgrade and the databases shall be set to read only mode while the upgrade is running on the other farm. You will reduce half of your processing time for users. In this approach, the existing farm keeps on hosting the non-upgraded sites in read only mode while the content is being upgraded. Server and farm shall not be upgraded and you need to transfer settings and customizations that you want to preserve. In the case of Hybrid plan 2, the benefit of the in-place upgrade capability is to upgrade content and settings while enjoying the speed of database attach upgrade model. Hybrid plan 2 involves the usage of in place upgrade for upgrading the farms and settings and to detach and upgrade several databases in parallel. Upgrade makes your customizations available after the upgrade process. This plan allows multiple content databases to be upgraded at the same time.

Upgrade Scenarios

Upgrade from 32 bit to 64 bit SQL Server

In order to obtain the best performance results, it is a must to migrate from 32-bit edition to a 64-bit edition. It is recommended to perform one type of upgrade at a time to avoid a failure. You may use two methods for a 32-bit to a 64 bit SQL Server upgrade. Either you may back up all the farm database sets to perform the upgrade and then restore the databases after wards. In this case, you will have a full back up and once you restore the databases, no change would be required within SharePoint 2010. Other than this method, you can always move the databases to a 64 bit SQL Server edition. With a different 64 bit edition, you need to run a command in the computers running SharePoint Server 2010 in order to point them to the 64 bit SQL Server edition.

Upgrade from 32-bit OS to 64 bit OS

For an upgrade, you need to migrate from a 32 bit operating system to a 64 bit operating system. Adding 64 bit servers to the server farm and removal of 32 bit servers mitigate the service down time.

Upgrade a form based authentication environment 

Once the migration is complete from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010, the authentication system is converted to a Windows Login based authentication. For SharePoint environments, where Windows based authentication exists, no new changes are required and web application will also work smoothly. Additional configuration changes will be required if your web applications are using the form based authentication. For using SharePoint 2007 based web applications in SharePoint 2010, it is important to convert to claims based authentication. After this conversion, web application zones must be configured to form based authentication. You will be able to migrate users and permissions from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010.

Upgrade large databases

Databases having greater number or size of document versions take more time to upgrade as compared to smaller ones.  The density of data determines the actual time required to upgrade it but not the database size. The upgrade process usually times out due to connection issues.

Upgrade databases having multiple site collections

It is recommended to break up large site collections in a database into multiple databases.  A default warning at 9,000 site collections and a hard limit at 15000 site collections is offered in Office SharePoint 2007 but these values are converted to 2000 site collections and 5000 site collections in SharePoint 2010. You can always fasten up your upgrade process by performing paralleled upgrade for multiple databases.

Upgrade from Windows SharePoint Services 3.0

You can attach and upgrade the content databases from Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 to SharePoint 2010 by using a database attach upgrade approach. You will be able to upgrade the data in the content database with this process but cannot transfer any farm settings. 

Upgrade Microsoft Office forms server 2007 to SharePoint 2010

Due to the unavailability of Office Forms Server 2007 for purchase, its capabilities have been incorporated into SharePoint Server 2010. For using forms, you need to upgrade to SharePoint 2010 by adopting the database attach upgrade approach.

Change Languages for site or environment

For changing the language for a particular site, you need to upgrade in the same language and afterwards install new language pack for changing to that language. But if you need to change the installation language for servers, you need to use the database migration approach for migrating your data from the old version and language to a new one.

Use Internationalized Domain names

It is recommended to delete the configurations and related settings of IDN's in the existing SharePoint server 2007 before migrating to SharePoint 2010.


Deciding on a particular upgrade approach at the right time can improve upgrade performance. Various upgrade options can be chosen depending upon hardware and software requirements. The key benefit of in place upgrade is that it can upgrade various settings and migrate customizations to SharePoint 2010. But with the database approach, you will be allowed to attach multiple databases at the same time but each database is unavailable during the upgrade. With parallel upgrade, you can considerable reduce your down time while attaching multiple databases in parallel for upgrading. In case of various upgrade scenarios, you will get the best results if you back up all the farm database sets or add 64 bit OS or convert authentication system to a Windows Login based authentication, install new language pack...., all depending upon the upgrade situation. You can get the most favorable upgrade if you select an appropriate upgrade approach.

Related Links:

SharePoint Migration || SharePoint Upgrade