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Michael Stephenson keeping your feet on premise while your heads in the cloud

Before I get into this I am not an Office Live Small Business or Office 365 expert but I have used Office Live Small Business for number of years as a light weight way of managing some parts of my business. I now need to migrate to Office 365 and one of the areas which concerned me was around custom lists which had attachments. I had a number of these with lots of rows and I had been waiting for some information on how these would be migrated and hoped they would just be migrated for me automatically.

When the migration guidance came out this was unfortunately not the case so I thought this post may help some others who have the same task to perform over the coming months before the final closure of OLSB.


Step 1: Replicate the list structure

In your Office Live Small Business account open up the custom list and go to its settings so you can see the structure of the list.

In your Office 365 account create the new custom list to replicate the structure from Office Live Small Business.

A couple of recommendations here:

  • You may want to consider leaving the constraints on columns such as choices etc for later and initially create the columns with simple types then fix them later
  • Ensure the columns are in the same order to make things simpler


Step 2: Open Your existing list in Microsoft Access

In your Office Live Small Business custom list use the Actions menu and select Open with Access.

This will open the list in Microsoft Access so you will obviously need it installed.

When the list opens in access choose the option to export a copy of the data and an appropriate location to save it.


Step 3: Open your new list in Microsoft Access

In your Office 365 account open your list and select the Open with Access option highlighted below.


When the list opens choose to have data linked to the sharepoint site like in the below pic.


Step 4: Copy the core data

Unfortunately you cannot copy everything all in one go because the rows must be created before an item can be attached. From here the next thing to do is to select the column headers in the access instance from the Office Live Small Business list. Select all headers except the one for the attachments column. Like in the below picture.

Next go to the Access instance which is linked to the Sharepoint List in the Office 365 site. Paste the lines into this Access instance. The paste action will slowly insert the new rows into the Office 365 SharePoint List.


Step 5: Copy Attachments

You should now have two Microsoft Access databases with the same rows in. One a copy from Office Live Small Business and one with a linked table to the Office 365 SharePoint list. The rows will all be in the same order.

The next step is to copy the attachments.

In the Office Live Small Business Access instance select the column header for the attachments. The one with the paper clip symbol as its header. Then copy the entire column.

In the Office 365 Access instance select the attachments column header and paste the entire column.

This paste action will probably take a while if you have a lot of attachments.



As I mentioned at the start the biggest concern I had with the Office Live Small Business to Office 365 migration was around what to do with all of my custom lists and attachments. Unfortunately the self migration guide wasn't very useful for this bit because It just said to export your data but didn't cover importing it or anything about attachments.

As you can see this only took a short time to do so generally I am quite pleased that this is complete and I can now get on with enjoying the many new features of Office 365 and let my OLSB account disappear into the past.

Posted on Friday, February 3, 2012 11:05 AM | Back to top

Comments on this post: Migrating Custom Lists with Attachments from OLSB to Office 365

# re: Migrating Custom Lists with Attachments from OLSB to Office 365
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You have showed us data migration path, thanks for that. How do I show this data on my customer facing website now is a question I am faced with. I am an OLSB user and I use lot of lists which are either published on my site to gather user feedback or registrations. I also publish a lot of lists on my websites that displays information gathered from various places.
My problem is what use data migration is when I can not use it.
And I stand by you more than 100% that Office365 self migration guide is rubbish.
Left by Ash on Feb 22, 2012 9:46 PM

# re: Migrating Custom Lists with Attachments from OLSB to Office 365
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Sorry im not a specialist on Office365 so cant really advise you on the public website stuff however i do have the same problem as you
Left by mike on Feb 23, 2012 1:49 PM

# re: Migrating Custom Lists with Attachments from OLSB to Office 365
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