Thursday, June 19, 2014

SharePoint 2010 Admin Tip of The Day: Duplicate a large custom list on a single site for archive purposes

I was recently asked by a site admin to help with archiving a FY14 list.  They wanted to keep the list on the site, but use a subset of the content to create a new list called FY15.  They wanted to retain all the views, time stamps, etc.  The list was quite large.  It had over 4000 items and had too many columns, including lookups, calculations, multi-select and multi-line fields for me just to do a datasheet to datasheet copy or an excel export.  Of course this would also not retain the created by, date, etc, so it really wasnt a viable option.  The data was also too large to include the content with the 'save list as template' and duplicate it that way. So it was time for this guy to get creative!

The first thing I did was export the list to a file on the server.  At first, I was having problems with using powershell (kept getting a URL error and tried every variation of the switches that I could think of - but that's another blog for another time), so I opted just to use CA's backup feature.

Update 6/27: The format for exporting a list is as follows:
export-spweb -identity <URL> -path <drive location> -itemurl lists/<listname>

Once the list was exported, I imported it into a test site that I created on the same web application.  I didnt want to re-import into the user's site at this point because it would just overwrite the list instead of creating a duplicate. Not to mention the export/import took forever because there was so much content.  I wanted to clean up the data first.

Once I had the entire list moved to my test site, I deleted all the content that was no longer needed, retaining only the items that were required for the new list.  This dropped it down to under 200 items; much more manageable.  Now that the content was reduced significantly, I was able to save the list as a template with content, and simply use that template to create the new list in the original site.  Voila.  Done.  Where's the EASY button?

But you know, this got me thinking: what if the site content was still too large to create a list template with content?  If I tried to re-export and import the new list into the original site, would I run into a duplicate GUID issue even if I rename the list name & URL?  I couldnt find much information online, and I wasnt sure, so there was nothing to do but test and document my results.

Back in my test site, the first thing I did was export the newly cleaned up list.  This was now my original control list.  I then opened the test site using SharePoint Designer and renamed the original list and its URL.  I then went back to the test site in the browser to make sure the URL and the title of the original list was now changed.  I also modified the data enough so I could tell if it was overwritten. I then re-imported the list to the site.

Will SharePoint overwrite the original list anyway because of the GUID or will it put it in as a new list since the URL and name has changed.  All bets in!

You want to know what happened?  Drum roll Please.......

The SharePoint import brought it in as a new list.  The test was successful.

So if you need to duplicate a list that is huge and you cant do the list template with content way of things, this is good to know.  Enjoy!

As always, your feedback and comments are welcome in the section below.

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