Box to OneDrive Migration Guide

This guide will help you prepare to migrate from Box to OneDrive in Office 365.

Most migrations fall into regular phases as described below. Proven success factors for migration include planning, assessing and remediating, preparing your target environment, migrating and onboarding your users.

Migration process

Migration planning Assess and remediate Prepare your OneDrive environment Migrate User onboarding
What content goes where

Understanding permissions vs Sharing

What to expect before and after

Migration and network performance considerations

Change management and communications
Analyze Box admin reports

Assess key areas

Remediate issues
Pre-provision Office 365 and users Review migration offerings

Microsoft FastTrack services

Migration service providers
Send regular emails to users

Provide training

Let users know how they are impacted

Provide documentation for making the switch

Migration planning

Before beginning your migration, it is important that you plan your outcome by performing an assessment of your current source environment. What you discover will influence your overall strategy and timing, including:

  • The design of the target environment and the mapping between source and target systems.
  • The amount of content you migrate. Determine if content is redundant, out of date, or still relevant.
  • Build your user onboarding into your upfront planning. Communicate early and often with your users about the migration and how it will impact them. Don't wait until the very end to start preparing them for the change.

What content goes where

Consider how you use the content in your Box accounts today and plan how to transition to Office 365 for a more collaborative experience.

Does the file belong to me alone, even though I might share it with others? If so, save it in your OneDrive personal library. Your personal library is private by default, but you can share files with others, which is particularly useful if you arent working as a team yet.

If you’re working on a file intended for team consumption and collaboration, use OneDrive to save it to a shared library where team members have access by default. OneDrive gives you access to all your shared libraries in Microsoft Teams, SharePoint or Outlook. When you need a new shared library for team files, you can create on right from OneDrive, add members, and start working together.


Understanding permissions vs sharing

How you have shared your files will dictate how they appear in the Shared with Me view in OneDrive. Shared with Me includes:

  • Files and folders that someone shared with you via OneDrive (they clicked the "Share" button and typed your name or email address)
  • Files and folders that you have opened from a shared location

The following table maps your current Box sharing experience with OneDrive.

Box OneDrive
Folders or file with only one owner, but more than one contributor As the owner, content should be migrated to the user's OneDrive personal library.

Any user who has access to a user's folder will have that folder automatically appear in their Shared with Me list.
Only one owner, but shared with a Box group As the owner, content will be migrated to the user's OneDrive personal library.

The Box group should be converted to a security group.

Email should then be sent to the new security group, where each user can accept the invitation link. Content will then appear in those users Shared with Me list.
Folders or file with multiple owners (co-admin in Box) Content should be migrated to the appropriate shared library.

Any user who has access to the shared library and follows the associated SharePoint team site, will have the SharePoint team site appear on the left side navigation of OneDrive on the web.
Box folders with contributors who are external to your organization For prescriptive guidance see the specific External Permission Best Practice section in this document.

Note: Any content that is shared with a user from another company’s Box instance won’t be migrated. If the user still wants to retain that content – their Box account will need to remain active.
Shared with Box end user experience Only content that has been explicitly shared with a user will appear in their Shared with Me view in OneDrive.

For content stored in shared libraries: any user who has access to the team site and follows the team site, will have the team site appear on the left side of their OneDrive view.

Assess and remediate your content

Before beginning your migration, it is important that you perform an analysis of your current environment. Only you know your data and how and who uses it. Think about how and what Box features you use in production.

All of the following recommended assessments can be performed using Box’s Folders and Files admin report. Run this report and use its results to perform these assessments. Remediate your content on the source before beginning your migration to save time and effort later.

Assess Remediate
File extensions Find all files in the Folders and Files report whose Path ends in one of the extensions defined here: Types of files that cannot be added to a list or library If the blocked file types are scripting files, they are blocked because scripting capabilities are turned off by default in OneDrive.

If you want to allow these file types, turn on scripting capabilities as described here: Allow or prevent custom script.

Make sure you understand why these files are blocked by default as described here: Security considerations of allowing custom script
File and folder name characters Find all items in the Folders and Files report whose name contains any of the characters detailed here: Invalid file names and file types in OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, and SharePoint Work with your migration vendor to substitute these characters in all file and folder names.

Note: The # and % characters are supported but not enabled by default. Follow these steps to enable them: New support for # and % in SharePoint Online and OneDrive
File and folder path length Find all items in the Folders and Files report whose Path exceeds the file path length described here: SharePoint Online limits Work with your migration vendor to reorganize your file and folder structure such that it does not exceed this limit. Splitting large drives that serve several scenarios into multiple smaller, more focused drives may help here.
Large drives and complex sharing Scan for any drives that have a very large amount of content, or many different unique sharing permissions – this is usually a sign that the drive should be broken down into smaller, more focused sites.

Specifically, any drive that has more than 50,000 documents shared with different users must be broken up. Use Box’s Folders and Files report and Shared Links report to identify such drives.
Identify sets of content within these drives that are conceptually similar (same project area, all shared with the same users, etc). Move these sets of content out and into new drives before starting migration.

Prepare your OneDrive environment

Before migrating your Box content, you must pre-provision your users in OneDrive. For guidance on pre-provisioning see:


Migration process

Below is a typical migration process that follows Microsoft’s best practices guidance.

  1. Select a small set of users for a pilot migration. The goal of the pilot is to validate the process, including performance, user communication, and to get a sample of user feedback.

  2. Perform the pilot migration. This should use an incremental migration method, in which migration happens in the background with no user impact, followed by a cutover event in which users Box accounts are disabled and they are directed to use the target OneDrive environment. This method is preferred as it reduces user impact.

  3. Understand the data from the pilot migration to determine the remainder of your migration schedule and make any changes. For example, you may update your user communication template to address a question you received from a pilot user.

  4. Perform the remainder of the migration. This should also follow an incremental migration method, just like the pilot. Microsoft recommends a single cutover event for all users to switch to OneDrive and disable their Box accounts. This approach helps to eliminate any confusion resulting from users having to collaborate using both Box and OneDrive at the same time.


Box has rate limiting in effect, which may impact the scheduling of your migration. Work with your migration provider to understand how these limits affect your migration.

Migration offerings

Currently, there are a variety of migration offerings available to you. They include:

Microsoft FastTrack

FastTrack is a Microsoft service included in your subscription cost that provides you with a set of best practices, tools, resources, and experts committed to making your experience with the Microsoft Cloud a great one. OneDrive onboarding guidance, migration benefits, and adoption guidance are included in the benefit offering.

Onboarding guidance includes: help to discover what’s possible, creating a plan for success, and onboarding new users and capabilities at a flexible pace. The Data Migration benefit covers guidance on migrating content from file share, Box, or Google Drive source environments.

This guidance covers enablement of both OneDrive for Business and the source environment. FastTrack will also perform specific data migration activities on behalf of the customer for those with 500 or more licenses. See more details in the provided FastTrack Center Benefit Overview. Interested in getting started? Visit, review resources, and submit a Request for Assistance.

Migration service providers

You may decide that your organization has specific business needs that require you to use third-party services or applications to help you execute your migration. Explore the professional services and applications available from partners in the Microsoft Partner Center. There you can find experts to help you in your enterprise content migration to Office 365. For more information see: Microsoft Partner Center.

User Onboarding

Develop a plan to prepare your users for the upcoming change. Consideration factors to include in your plan:

  • Evangelize the move. Underscore the benefits, the collaborative capabilities, and the reasons for making the move.
  • End user training. Provide training to your users on the features in OneDrive.
  • Train your helpdesk. Before the cutover, train your helpdesk in key features and common user questions.
  • Prepare for any possible downtime the migration may incur.

Develop a plan for sending communications to your user base, providing clear statements of timing, expectations and impact to the individual. Consideration factors:

  • The migration timeline and how it will impact them. Include any end user calls to action.
  • Assure them that if they have content already in OneDrive, that their content is safe and won’t be overwritten.
  • Let them know whether individuals can opt-out of the migration process

Make the switch!

The following articles will help your users “make the switch” from Box to OneDrive. The topics show how you used to do common tasks in Box and how you do the same in OneDrive.


Permissions and roles

There is an important distinction between permissions and sharing.

Permissions determine the level of access a user has to content – whether they can view, edit, or have no access at all. Generally, users have permissions to a lot of content (your company portals, for example), but have had much less content explicitly shared with them. Permissions for both services are defined by assigned roles. The following table maps your current Box roles with OneDrive:

Box Roles OneDrive Roles
Co-owner Contributor
Editor Contributor
Viewer Uploader Viewer
Previewer Uploader None
Viewer Viewer
Previewer None
Uploader None

External permission best practices

Microsoft’s recommendation is to not handle external sharing during the act of migration. Rather, assess existing external sharing content and then reshare post migration per the following guidelines:

  • Audit external permissions on the Box content source using the Collaborations report (generated through the Box Admin Console)
  • Determine whether that content is worthy to remain externally shared
  • If you decide the content is to remain externally shared, determine whether that content is suited for OneDrive personal libraries or shared libraries based on the "What content goes where" above guidance
  • For OneDrive personal libraries: reshare files externally with the appropriate external users after the migration
  • For Shared libraries: