Consolidating Site Collections After Upgrading SharePoint

As you start to explore Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 you are going to find lots of new features and ways of doing things. One that has caused a bit of stir in the upgrading classes I have taught (to roughly 60 people already WOW!) is the fact that when you create a site through the site directory it becomes a sub site, not a separate site collection as it did in SPS 2003. My understanding of the reasons behind this is the rollup and aggregation web parts do not work across site collections. Also, the handy feature Manage Content and Structure is only valid within the same site collection. So that is great for new sites you create but what about when I upgrade?

In SPS 2003 all of our sites created from the site directory were separate site collections. So when we finish upgrading we are left with 1 site collection that encompasses our portal (and future sites we create from the portal) and then all of these upgraded collaborative sites that live each in its own site collection. What are we to do?

Well, thanks to some persistent students in my Denver class last week I have sat down and figured out how to rearrange things if you are so inclined. (Ok, ok I actually sent an email and had the answer sent to me but such is life, at least I am going to document it. Thanks Joel)

So just a couple of basics before we start.

  • My portal is located at

  • I have a team site (standalone site collection) located at

If I wanted to see a list of all of the site collections below my portal I can do that. The easy, out of the box way is to use stsadm.exe –o enumsites –url

You will also notice from the screen shot that stsadm gives us more details in this version. ContentDatabase, StorageUsedMB, StorageWarningMB, and StorageMaxMB are all new pieces of information that could be handy in a pinch.

Anyway, back to the task at hand. How are we going to move HR to be part of the portal site collection? How about using stsadm.exe –o export

From the screen shot we can see at a minimum we will need to use the –url and –fliename options. So we probably want to run stsadm –o export –url -filename HRsite.bak

Depending on the size of your site collection this command may run for several minutes. Once it finishes you will get a message saying Operation Completed Successful. Now we need to figure out how to get the site collection back in. To do this let’s look at the command stsadm –o import

From this screen shot we can now see that we just need to do is import our previous file to a url inside our portal site collection. Something like stsadm –o import –url -filename HRsite.bak

Once again you should get a Operation Completed Successfully message. If you did then you should now be able to browse to Now don’t forget to also go back and manually deleted your old site collection once you are sure you have successfully moved everything. I will leave how to delete to you. It always scares me to give out instructions on deleting things because you never know who might only half way read this article and mindlessly delete something on accident. It happens!

Once you finish all of this moving around you will need to do a little navigation cleanup but nothing we can’t do through site settings these days.

Shane SharePoint Help

22 Comments so far

  1.   Marcus Hooper on January 10th, 2007          Reply

    I would just suggest that people make note of the -includeusersecurity option for both the export and import. Definitely save some headaches.

  2.   Josh on January 23rd, 2007          Reply

    I’m getting an error when exporting some sites saying “User cannot be found”. I’m the site collection owner and i’m added as a full control user for the site i’m exporting?

    Any Ideas?

  3.   Joel Rumerman on January 31st, 2007          Reply

    Awesome. Simply awesome…

    I was playing with this for a while with no success. The trick (for me at least) is to not create the import site location and let the import process create it for you. Otherwise, you’ll get template mismatches.

    Thx, Joel

  4.   Farzin Davari on February 2nd, 2007          Reply

    It was awesome, Thanks Shane.

  5.   Krish on February 23rd, 2007          Reply

    even, I’m getting an error when exporting some sites saying “User cannot be found”. I’m the site collection owner and i’m added as a full control user for the site i’m exporting?

    Any Ideas?

  6.   Farzin Davari on March 14th, 2007          Reply

    Hi Shane,
    Do you have any idea if export and import might affect Alert?
    I have upgraded a SPS 2003 to 2007 (In place upgrade) and then in order to re structure the sites in MOSS, I used export/import command. Aparently Alert stopped working after import/export.
    Any idea?


  7.   Paze on June 20th, 2007          Reply

    btw – screen shots are brkn imgs

  8.   Len on June 29th, 2007          Reply

    Very nice description and clear instruction. Great job. We were trying to do something similar, move a Site collection \sites\site1 under another site collection \sites\Site2\Site1. All of which came from SP2k3. Finally discovered that we had to manually create a ‘blank’ site under \sites\Site1\ before the import and all worked out. Thanks for your contribution to the SP community!

  9.   chris on August 15th, 2007          Reply

    when i tried export/import all document libries were set to same date. this included infopath forms. anybody have this problem?

  10.   BASEL on December 23rd, 2007          Reply

    I have upgraded a SPS 2003 to 2007 (In place upgrade) and then in order to re structure the sites in MOSS, I used export/import command.

    Not all my docuemnt under the sites have been moved (exported/imported) although the message was that the operation successfully done.

  11.   Martin Norland on March 23rd, 2008          Reply

    Just a fair warning to folks – and to answer Farzin Davari… alerts, workflows, and some properties are lost with the stsadm import/export process (in its current incarnation as of this writing) – this is largely due to the fact that the GUIDs are not preserved – and new GUIDs are created as items are created/moved.

    This is, however, a Good Thing ™ if you’re moving content within a content database, otherwise you’d be wreaking havoc with duplicate GUIDs.

    As for ‘not all documents coming across’, you almost certainly wanted to specify “-versions 4” to get all versions of your files, not just current/published ones. -includeusersecurity is generally a must as well if you’re intending to use content with the same users / in the same manner.

  12.   TJAN on May 20th, 2008          Reply

    Can the export/import functionalty be used as a migration tool? I am tyring to find an option to the backup/restore which will not include security.

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  22.   Khoi Le on October 10th, 2010          Reply

    Hi all,
    I have some problem with import SP site:
    I have finished export a site to a file successfully (ex: backup.dat)
    When I import this file (backup.dat) into the same site collection, it’s worked Ok.
    But when I import this file into the other site collection, an error has occurred: “Could not load file or assembly…”. It’s not copy assembly file into bin folder of port(s) which I want to import.
    Please show me how to resolve that problem!.
    Thanks a lot!.

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