Introducing the Microsoft SharePoint online batch importer

Colleague | Mark Deckert

Mark Deckert
Head of Product Development @ fme AG

October 22, 2020

Why another Microsoft SharePoint Online importer?

Since we’ve already been providing a Microsoft SharePoint Online importer for several years now, you may ask yourself, why we decided to develop another one? And what does this “batch” mean?

The main reason to develop a new importer for SPO was the performance of our existing importer. The existing importer is using the SharePoint REST API for creating and uploading the documents to SharePoint Online, which is a rather slow method, especially when the target is a cloud system.

Microsoft has recognized this and therefore published the SharePoint Import Migration API. This API allows to bulk import many documents with few API calls. In addition, the documents to be imported are divided into batches that can be imported in parallel.

With our new Microsoft SharePoint Online batch importer, we want to allow our customers to migrate large amounts of data to SPO as quickly as possible. Since the new importer divides the documents into batches, we named it SharePoint Online batch importer to distinguish it from the existing Microsoft SharePoint Online importer.

What are the differences between the two SPO importers?

From a technology point of view, the differences are the used APIs, the programming languages, the import methods, and supported authentication:

SPO SPO batch
API REST API Import Migration API
Programming language Java C#
Import method Single document (synchronous) Batches of documents (asynchronous)
Authentication Username and password Azure AD / SharePoint App Authentication

But there are also several differences in the supported features. The following table shows the main differences between the importers regarding the supported features.

SPO SPO batch
Delta migration Supported Not supported (because the Import Migration API does not support this)
Import of Lists Supported Not supported (yet)
Import of ListItems (with attachments) Supported Not supported (yet)
Import into different sites / libraries in one import job Supported Only import into one site / library supported
Records declaration Not supported Supported
Import into Microsoft OneDrive Not supported Supported

To figure out all differences between the importers, please check the latest online documentation.

When should you use the new Microsoft SharePoint Online batch importer?

Whenever you want to migrate a large number of folders and documents into a single document library, you should prefer the SPO batch importer over the old SharePoint Online importer. Its overall performance is much better compared to the old Microsoft SharePoint Online importer.

If you want to migrate folders and documents into Microsoft OneDrive for Business, you can do so with the new SPO batch importer as well.

If your SharePoint Online administrators prohibit the usage of a direct username and password authentication, you should use the new Microsoft SharePoint Online batch importer that supports the Azure AD / SharePoint App Authentication recommended by Microsoft.

What should you consider when using the SharePoint Online batch importer?

There are two things you should consider when you plan to use the SPO batch importer:

  1. Check if it meets all of your requirements. For example, if you need to migrate List and ListItems, our old SharePoint Online importer might be the better choice.
  2. Microsoft throttles the performance of migration / import jobs during business hours. Thus, you should plan to run the import jobs during non-business hours. Read this article for details.

We will constantly improve the SPO batch importer and also add new features. If you would like to use it in a project but find a certain feature is missing, please don’t hesitate to contact our sales or product support.