Determine upgrade approach

Applies To: Windows SharePoint Services 3.0


Topic Last Modified: 2007-12-13

In this article:

  • Choose an upgrade approach

  • Special cases

Before you run any upgrade process, you need to determine which upgrade approach to take. Use the information in this article to help compare the pros and cons for each approach, and review information about special cases that might influence your approach.

Choose an upgrade approach

The following table lists and compares the different upgrade approaches.

Approach Description Pros Cons Best for

In-place upgrade

Upgrades the content and configuration data in-place, at one time.

Easiest approach. Sites retain original URLs. Updates existing databases and servers using existing hardware.

Environment is offline while it runs. No ability to revert to original site.

Single server or small server farm.

Gradual upgrade

Installs the new version side-by-side with the previous version. The server administrator determines which site collections to upgrade and when to upgrade them.

Enables a more granular approach: You can upgrade at the site collection level. Reduces time any single user is affected. Sites retain original URLs. Can revert to original site. Uses existing hardware.

More complex and resource-intensive. Must redirect URLs during upgrade process, which causes issues for some client applications, such as Microsoft Office. Requires extra storage in SQL Server. Windows SharePoint Services 2.0 scalable hosting mode is not supported.

Medium or large server farms (without shared services) with many sites for which you must limit downtime. Good for when your environment has many customizations.

(Advanced) Database migration

Requires the server administrator to install the new version on a separate farm or separate hardware, and then manually migrate the databases into the new environment.

Enables moving to new farm or new hardware. Windows SharePoint Services 2.0 environment is available and is untouched by upgrade.

Complex process that requires many manual steps and a higher risk of error. Requires additional manual steps to retain original URLs for sites. Requires new server farm, and twice the amount of SQL Server storage space.

Those who are moving to new hardware or a new architecture. Customers who need to maximize upgrade throughput. This approach is required for Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services 2.0 environments that are using scalable hosting mode or Active Directory directory service account creation mode.

For more information about how in-place and gradual upgrade work, see How the upgrade process works (Windows SharePoint Services).

Special cases

You might have other requirements or additional goals that you want to accomplish when you perform your upgrade. The following table lists special cases and describes which upgrade approach is appropriate for each case.

Case Upgrade approach to take

Changing languages?

You have two choices, depending on whether a single site or your entire environment is changing languages:

  • To change the language for a specific site, upgrade in the same language, and then install the new language pack and change to that language.


    You must have the appropriate language packs installed to upgrade any sites based on a localized site definition. If you do not have the new language pack, the sites will not be accessible. Wait for the new language packs to be released before attempting to upgrade those sites.

  • To change the installation language for your servers, use the database migration approach to migrate your data from the old version and language to the new version and language.

Moving to Windows Server 2008?

First upgrade to Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 by using either in-place or gradual upgrade, and then upgrade to Windows Server 2008.

Upgrading from SharePoint Team Services?

Upgrade to Windows SharePoint Services 2.0, and then to Windows SharePoint Services 3.0. Upgrading directly from SharePoint Team Services is not supported.

Upgrading from an environment that included the Microsoft Office Web Components (

These components will continue to work in the new version if you upgrade using in-place or gradual upgrade. However, the database migration approach does not work for these components, because they can only be installed in a Windows SharePoint Services 2.0 environment.

Download this book

This topic is included in the following downloadable book for easier reading and printing:

See the full list of available books at Downloadable books for Windows SharePoint Services.