Find Your Files After a SharePoint Migration – Tips for the End User

More and more companies are taking the plunge and migrating their files to the cloud. This process was sped up as the world turned to remote working in 2020. Silver linings, right?

The cloud is the way of the future, and if your company is moving your files and processes to the cloud, you have a lot to gain! SharePoint has 190 million users across 200,000 organizations. It’s a robust document management and storage system; one that’s incredibly versatile and customizable, which allows for lots of variability in usage. If you have an internet connection and a login, you can access SharePoint – and all of your files – from any device, anywhere in the world. You can also work on documents at the same time as other co-workers, allowing for increased communication and collaboration. Security and permissions make access to SharePoint more secure than ever.

Of course, the transition to SharePoint Online is a big change for a lot of organizations. Getting used to a whole new way of working, navigating sites, and collaborating on documents is not always easy. Since SharePoint is so versatile, there’s no one-size-fits-all way to set up and use SharePoint Online. Sometimes it becomes difficult to locate where files were migrated to, for a variety of reasons. In this blog, we’ll outline different methods you can use to track down your files after a migration to SharePoint Online.

Are You Logged Into the Correct Account?

This sounds simple, but in fact it’s a pretty simple thing to overlook. To check which account you’re using, click on the user icon in the top right-hand corner of your screen from SharePoint, OneDrive, or any other Microsoft 365 application. Note that some browsers may have their own user icon in the upper right-hand corner of the browser, and these are not interchangeable. When you click on your account, your account information will appear. Ensure the correct email address is displayed.

Did the File Get Deleted?

If you’re sure that your files were migrated to a specific SharePoint site, but you can no longer see them in the documents, it’s possible that they were deleted.

To get to the SharePoint recycle bin, click the ‘Settings’ gear in the top right-hand corner, then ‘Site Contents’, then ‘Recycle Bin’. All files that have been deleted from the site will be listed here. Keep in mind that files are only stored in the recycle bin for three months before they are deleted.

Has the File Been Renamed or Replaced?

When migrating to SharePoint Online, things like version history become automated within the SharePoint framework. That means that words like ‘DRAFT’ or ‘FINAL’ in the file name become redundant. It’s possible that someone may have made the decision to remove older versions of the file or remove redundant words from the file title. Look for files with a similar name and open them to confirm whether they are the file you’re looking for.

Alternatively, if there were two files with the same name in your previous file storage system, it may have confused the file migration software. If you’re accessing a different file than expected with the same name, try renaming your document and re-uploading it to SharePoint Online.

Did the File Get Migrated to a Different Site?

Sometimes the structure in SharePoint Online has been created differently than how things were structured in your previous file management system. This is potentially because of additional security, changing permissions, or a new structure that’s more in line with your current business processes. Check with your migration team if you expected to see a file in a site and it’s not there; potentially, it has been moved to a different location, or to check that you have permission to sites you’ll need access to.

Is the Current View Filtering Your File Out of View?

In SharePoint Online, you can set up different views to limit the files that appear based on metadata. It’s possible that the default view on a library is filtering out the file that you’re searching for. To ensure you’re seeing all documents in the SharePoint document library, check that ‘All Documents’ appears in the drop-down list on the right-hand side of the document library.

Have You Tried Searching for the File?

SharePoint Online search is pretty robust, and can be very helpful in finding a specific file. You can search both within the document library and within the site. Try searching multiple libraries and sites if you don’t find it right away; it’s possible the document has been migrated somewhere other than expected.

You may get different results depending on where you’re searching from

Are You Having a Sync Issue?

If you still can’t find your file, you could be experiencing a sync issue. These are numerous. At Regroove, we strongly advise against syncing between your computer and SharePoint Online if you can avoid it, as it opens the door for changes you make on your device to be missed in SharePoint Online.

Sync issues can include internet connectivity, storage space limitations, outdated software, malware…the list goes on. If you’re having trouble with syncing, Microsoft has a few tips that you can try.

To mitigate this issue, it’s best to ensure all your files are saved to the cloud, not on your device. We also recommend using the web versions of Microsoft Word and Excel where possible to remain in the cloud environment during the editing process. The functionality is admittedly slightly limited, but you should have all the buttons you need in most cases.

I’ve Tried Everything. What Now?

If you’ve tried everything in this list, it’s time to ask for some help. When you reach out to your migration team or technical support, we recommend providing the following information:

  • What went wrong. Try to be as specific and descriptive as possible. “When I clicked on this site, it gave me this error code” will get you a lot further than “I can’t find this file”.
  • What you’ve already tried. Again, the more detail, the better. Let technical support know what steps you’ve already taken to try and locate the file.
  • Provide context. While not required, this will certainly help support find your files faster. Provide screenshots of what you’ve tried, and specifically any errors you’re seeing.


These steps can help you find your files faster, helping to improve your experience in SharePoint Online. It’s important that you check for access to your most important files first thing after a migration so that any issues can be resolved as soon as possible.

Looking for help with your organization’s SharePoint Online migration? Get in touch at