Deciding to Upgrade My Server or Move to SharePoint: What Are the Pros and Cons of Each

Comparison between traditional file servers and SharePoint

Considering whether to upgrade your server or move to SharePoint and wondering what are the pros and cons of each? This decision has far-reaching implications for cost, performance, and collaboration within your business. We break down the key pros and cons of each, helping you navigate through this pivotal choice without the fluff. Here’s where we’ll weigh the robust performance and security enhancements of a server upgrade against SharePoint’s collaborative features and cloud agility. Ready to make an informed move? Let’s dive right in.

Key Takeaways

  • Traditional file servers offer centralized storage and file access on local networks with low costs and customization, but are becoming outdated compared to cloud alternatives like SharePoint, which provides enhanced document management and collaboration features.

  • Upgrading servers can improve performance and security but requires significant initial investment, may cause downtime, and can lead to compatibility issues with legacy systems. SharePoint migration offers real-time collaboration and workflow automation but entails challenges in user training and potential data migration issues.

  • Both server upgrades and SharePoint migrations need careful planning, including pre-migration analysis, data backup, user training, and potential use of third-party tools, taking into account the financial costs and data security and compliance requirements associated with each option.

Understanding Traditional File Servers and SharePoint

Comparison between traditional file servers and SharePoint

Decades ago, businesses relied heavily on traditional file servers for data storage and sharing; these servers were confined to a local network or configured for internet access,. These servers could store any type of data without requiring special processing and came with features like permission management and conflict resolution.

Traditional File Servers

Traditional file servers:

  • Function as centralized storage repositories, often referred to as traditional file server

  • Permit multiple users to access files and collaborate using connected devices

  • Support various protocols like SMB for Windows and NFS for UNIX/Linux

  • Require systematic administration and robust security measures

  • Have low cost and high customizability

However, some of these protocols are becoming outdated compared to cloud services.

Access to these servers is secured through identity services for authentication and permission structures for controlling file and folder access.

SharePoint Overview

Meanwhile, SharePoint, a top content management system, presents a notable alternative to traditional on-premises servers. SharePoint enhances document management and collaboration through cloud storage, mobile access, and streamlined information flow within a company. It also simplifies content management by enabling users to schedule content publishing and edit various document formats.

SharePoint offers seamless integration with existing business applications, including the Microsoft Office Suite, and centralized administration that efficiently handles operations, security settings, and user privileges for each SharePoint instance, making it an ideal choice for those considering SharePoint on premises or a SharePoint Server.

Pros and Cons of Upgrading Your Server

Pros and cons of server upgrades

Server upgrades can extend the lifespan of existing hardware, thus saving costs in the short term. However, this process is not without its pros and cons.

Advantages of Server Upgrades

Upgraded servers can deliver:

  • Better performance, with new hardware offering more storage space and faster operating speeds

  • Reduced downtime

  • Advanced security features

  • Reduced energy costs, as newer servers typically consume less power

  • Improved scalability, allowing businesses to more easily adjust their resources to meet changing demands

Disadvantages of Server Upgrades

While the advantages are compelling, server upgrades do present some challenges. These upgrades require a significant initial investment due to new hardware costs and can lead to temporary business downtime during installation. New servers may also not be compatible with existing legacy software or hardware, necessitating further upgrades or replacements.

Moreover, in-place upgrades often face challenges, leading to a preference for complete system reinstalls rather than upgrades.

Pros and Cons of Moving to SharePoint

However, migrating to SharePoint has its unique benefits and challenges.

Advantages of SharePoint Migration

SharePoint facilitates improved teamwork by allowing multiple users to collaborate on the same document in real time, with all changes being tracked. It also supports the automation of document workflows, enhancing efficiency in document creation, routing, and approvals.

Moreover, SharePoint can be integrated with a diverse range of platforms and devices, offering adaptive ways to perform work. Migrating to a newer SharePoint version ensures access to the latest functionalities and adherence to current standards, making it essential to stay updated with different SharePoint versions.

Disadvantages of SharePoint Migration

Similar to server upgrades, SharePoint migration brings its own set of difficulties. User adoption and training are significant challenges post-SharePoint migration, requiring the creation of new training materials and dedicated sessions. Technical challenges during SharePoint migrations include bulk migration risks, potential loss of metadata, and the necessity to maintain data integrity and content structure.

Limited bandwidth can severely impact SharePoint migration and user experience, and SharePoint Online’s cloud-based nature means it requires a stable internet connection.

Comparing Costs: Server Upgrade vs. SharePoint Migration

When it comes to financial aspects, both server upgrades and SharePoint migrations present their own cost structures. Initial capital investment for an on-premise server upgrade includes purchasing new server hardware and licenses, which can be optimized for company needs. A SharePoint upgrade, on the other hand, may involve different costs depending on the chosen migration path.

Conversely, SharePoint Online functions on a subscription-based model with various SharePoint Online plans, billing per user. This model doesn’t require maintenance and infrastructure investments, making it an attractive option for many businesses.

Data Security and Compliance Considerations

Data security and compliance considerations

Data security is a paramount concern in both scenarios. Microsoft engineers access SharePoint with two-factor authentication, oversight via code review, and strict auditing. Data in SharePoint is also encrypted in transit using secure connections and at rest with BitLocker and encryption keys.

Conversely, server upgrades offer advanced security features such as updated workflows, improved authentication and compliance settings.

Preparing for a Successful Migration or Upgrade

Regardless of your choice to upgrade your server or shift to SharePoint, careful preparation is vital.

Pre-Migration Analysis

A thorough pre-migration analysis predicts potential errors and warnings, paving the way for a clear and comprehensive migration plan. This includes identifying large lists and oversized items which may not be supported or could cause performance issues in SharePoint.

Implementing a pilot program with users from different parts of the organization can also help identify issues early, ensuring the full migration process is smoother when it’s time to migrate data.

Data Backup and Recovery

Data backup and recovery are crucial to safeguard against data loss and ensure successful migration or upgrade. Regular backups are essential to safeguard against hardware failure or cyber attacks.

In the case of SharePoint data, it is vital to regularly backup content databases to facilitate restoration in the event of data corruption or loss.

User Training and Adoption

User training should be tailored to different roles within the organization to ensure that each user group understands the features and tools relevant to their work. Training materials should cover the changes in user interface and functionality between the old and new SharePoint environments for a smoother transition.

Regular training sessions and access to ongoing support resources, such as help desks or user communities, facilitate user adoption post-migration.

Third-Party Tools for Migration and Upgrade

There are third-party tools available that can make the migration or upgrade process more manageable. Comprehensive migration tools such as AvePoint’s DocAve/Fly, Dell Migration Suite, and Microsoft’s Migration Manager offer advanced features for migrating to SharePoint. However, limitations exist, such as Microsoft’s SharePoint Migration Tool (SPMT) not being suitable for larger or complex migrations. For a smoother experience, consider using a specialized solution for SharePoint Online migration.


In conclusion, both server upgrades and SharePoint migrations have their own sets of pros and cons, and the choice between the two largely depends on the specific needs of your organization. It’s essential to consider not only the technical aspects but also the cost, security, compliance, and user adoption when making your decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why move file server to SharePoint?

Moving your file server to SharePoint improves search functionality, allowing you to find files in seconds compared to hours in Windows. Additionally, SharePoint provides enhanced data security.

What are the benefits of moving to SharePoint?

Moving to SharePoint can improve collaboration among teams, streamline document management, and increase productivity overall.

What is the downside of SharePoint?

The downside of SharePoint is that customization features used by most companies can be erased during updates, and best practices and workflows may break down, leading to misplaced files and difficulty in finding them.

What are the advantages of server upgrades?

Server upgrades provide better performance, reduced downtime, advanced security features, and improved scalability, making them essential for enhancing your system’s capabilities.

What are the disadvantages of SharePoint migrations?

SharePoint migrations can present challenges in user adoption, training, technical aspects, and require a stable internet connection. It is important to plan and prepare for these potential disadvantages.



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