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There has been a lot of talk about the security and ethics of Cloud computing for law firms. After thoroughly researching we decided to try Microsoft’s Office 365. This is about our migration and what we have learned by using Sharepoint the past few months.We began with moving our emails from an on premise Exchange server to an Office 365 hosted Exchange server. After getting comfortable with Microsoft’s hosted services we decided to experiment with SharePoint, recently renamed to One Drive for Business. Our on premise file server ran a variation of Linux. This made starting the migration difficult because we had been building our directory without the constraints of Windows OS (MAX_PATH and character limitations) for the past few years.
Microsoft makes a tool called One Drive Filechecker that will scan your directory and give you a list of file paths that will not work in SharePoint. However when you’re dealing with hundreds of thousands of files this can quickly become overwhelming as the error list starts growing. We utilized a tool called Shareprep which allows you to replace characters in file names in bulk as well as truncate file paths.
At this point the directory was cleaned and ready to be moved to SharePoint. Microsoft makes a great desktop application called One Drive for Business that is supposed to make this easy. Unfortunately it has a maximum file limit of 20,000 files if it is synced with a library. This creates an issue if your firm has over 20,000 files like most do.
To get around this we mapped our SharePoint URL as a network drive. We then used the command prompt to move files from the local drive to SharePoint. It was still a long process and we decided to do it over a weekend to prevent confusion for the attorneys. We broke our local drive up in sections and uploaded it in 10GB batches.
Overall we are happy using SharePoint to host our files. The drive mapping is almost seamless and the attorneys enjoy being able to access files out of the office without using the VPN. They also have the option of accessing it from any web browser if they don’t have their laptop, and Office 365 provides browser based Microsoft Office programs. When browsing the SharePoint mapped drive there is little difference in speed from a local drive.
We don’t like the check in/check out feature. This causes problems when a user forgets to check a file back in because another user can’t edit it or delete it without overriding their check out. This seems to happen more often with PDFs. We lost the ability to scan directly to our SharePoint URL and were forced to find a workaround for that.