Fix Broken Links in Excel in SharePoint Migrations

SharePoint is a popular enterprise content management platform that allows organizations to store, organize, and share content easily. This makes many organizations switch their existing content management solution to SharePoint for modern experience and advanced benefits and this is becoming the first step towards digital transformation.

However, as we already know migration from one platform to another is not just a lift and shift approach and one has to deal with lot challenges related to structure and content. One such challenge is how to fix broken links in Excel files after migration to SharePoint.

In this blog post, we will discuss what broken Excel links (Fix Broken Links)are and how to handle them in migrations.

How to Fix Broken Links in Excel and affected areas:

Excel spreadsheets can contain links to other files, such as other Excel spreadsheets, documents, and images. These links can be absolute or relative, and they can be either internal or external to the SharePoint site. If the files being referenced in links are not present or not reachable at the new place where the spreadsheet is being moved or copied, the referenced links will break and stop working.

These non-functional links are called broken links and they may exist at various places in Excel where linking functionality supports such as:

  • External Links: One Excel reference the data from another Excel.
  • Hyperlinks: Reference to any location. It can point to any type of file. It can be absolute or relative.
  • External pivot tables and charts: Pivot tables and charts built on data from external Excel Sheet.
  • Queries and connections: Connections to other Excel files and links used in Power Queries.
  • Macro Links: Links to other files referenced in Macros.
  • Cell Links: Plain links in the Excel cells.

Above are the places where broken link scenarios occur if referenced files not found in the location or links are no longer valid.

These broken links lead to issues such as data inaccuracy as recent updates cannot happen, time-consuming repairs and affected business workflows.

Phases to Fix Broken links

Most of the migrator tools only perform content migration and won’t fix broken links.
We need to perform link corrections explicitly after migrations.

These corrections can be achieved with following three phases:

Links Inventory

Analyze the source’s content first. Make an inventory of your source data to determine the quantity and size of Excel files. Run an inventory on Excel files to determine the various link types and the links present in them.

This information will be useful to understand the links and referenced locations in the source. Based on your migration target and the location, you can use this report to identify links on which corrections are required.  

Mapping sheet preparation

After the link inventory phase, you will have a report of links that require correction. Using this report, we need to prepare a mapping sheet with source links from this inventory report and destination location as the target location where the referenced files are migrated.

This mapping sheet will be used to perform link replacements of source link with the destination provided link.

For instance, below is the sample mapping sheet with source as File system (Links in Excel files from source) and destination as SharePoint (Target location links).

Mapping sheet

Excel Link replacer

We need to execute the mapping sheet on the destination migrated content for link replacement.  Every Excel file with links, if a record for the link entry is found in the mapping sheet, will be replaced with the provided target link.

Although the procedure described above appears straightforward, it cannot be carried out effectively without the proper tools. Inventory and Replacement phases can’t be carried out manually and require third-party tools to provide the report on links on the source content and to execute replacement using a mapping sheet on the destination content.

Once we identified the right tool for inventory and replacement phases, a mapping sheet needed to be prepared based on the formats the tool accepts. The preparation of the mapping sheet can’t be completely automated and requires clean observation at the source links and carefully mapping them to the new location.

With a framework made up of automated scripts for inventory and replacement phases combined with manual efforts in creating the mapping sheet by making clear observations of the source and destination targets, Saketa Migration Services offers you a hassle-free experience and helps you complete this job from start to finish.

Contact us at support@saketa.com for more queries.

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