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What to Expect: Box to Microsoft SharePoint and OneDrive

In the academic year 2021-22, Northwestern will migrate all Box data to Microsoft SharePoint and OneDrive.  Well in advance of the migrations, there are steps you can take to better prepare you and your data for the move. Be assured, however, that Northwestern IT will distribute additional and more detailed information in the coming months. You will have ample opportunity to ask questions and learn even more.

What is the Migration Plan for Different Kinds of Data?

Box data will be copied to OneDrive or SharePoint depending on the Box owner of the data.

Current Box Folder Ownership
Where Will the Box Data Be Migrated?
Owned By You OneDrive: Data will be copied and bundled into a single folder within your OneDrive account.
Owned by an Individual and Shared with You OneDrive: Data will be copied to the owner’s OneDrive account and shared to you automatically.

Owned by a Group: Organization Account

SharePoint: The shared data will be copied and bundled within a single library on a SharePoint site created specifically for that Org Account.

  • Note that Org Accounts are owned by emails ending in or
Owned by a Group: SAFER Account SharePoint: Shared data will be migrated to a SharePoint Secure Site created specifically for that SAFER Org Account.  The Stewards/Directors of the SAFER account will be presented with security features to choose from in designing their site.
Owned by an Individual that left Northwestern

SharePoint (only AFTER actions, named below, are taken): In some cases, when individuals left the University, folders and files continued to be associated with their Box account. Such folders and files may still be in use by team members and should be migrated to an Organization Account if access is still required.

  • Please work to identify such files and folders ahead of the migration. A request to restore the files, via, will be required to restore them.
Files attached to these accounts will be preserved for one year after the migration.

diagram of how data will migrate from box
Microsoft SharePoint vs. OneDrive

OneDrive accounts should be utilized for personal file storage, limited temporary sharing, and drafts in progress. Files that are meant to be shared institutionally or used more broadly—and not only by the file owner—should be stored in SharePoint.

OneDrive accounts, and the data within them, will be deleted after an individual is no longer an employee of the University. To ensure that colleagues maintain access to files beyond an individual’s tenure at Northwestern, please store shared files in SharePoint. SharePoint sites can have their ownership transferred easily to other site owners as needed. 

What is the Tool Used For?
If I Leave the Organization, What Happens to the Files?



Individual File Storage:

  • Files you create / Files you own
  • Files shared with you / Files you can access

Each Northwestern OneDrive account is associated with one user.

image of exclamation pointIf you leave Northwestern, your personal OneDrive files become inaccessible to anyone else, including those you have shared the files with.

The owner of the OneDrive content can allow others to access the content via sharing.

Anonymous sharing is not enabled for OneDrive. Content must be shared with a specific user via their email address.



Group File Storage:

  • Files you share or that are shared with you long-term
  • Increased control over permissions
  • Sensitive data (if you utilize a Northwestern SharePoint Secure Site)

SharePoint files remain for other users to use because they are on a SharePoint site.

SharePoint sites are intended for group use and are not attached to one user. In contrast, OneDrive accounts are attached to one user and, when the user leaves, their OneDrive is retired.

SharePoint content is owned by the site and not individual users. Users with access to the site can share and collaborate on files.

Security is determined by the Owner, Member and Visitor permission levels set by the site admin.

SharePoint allows for anonymous sharing which creates public links to content that does not require authentication to access.


Before the Migration: Steps You Can Take to Prepare Your Data
Before the Migration: Transferring Box Folder Ownership

In advance of the file migration to the Microsoft products, you may choose one or both of the following two options:

Prior to migration, whenever possible, ownership in these above cases should be transferred to Org Accounts or to individuals remaining at the University.  Collaborators, however, can instead move content to folders owned by Org Accounts or to other Northwestern community members.

If the data is copied (rather than moved), collaborators—with whom the content is shared—will not accompany the content!

After the Migration: Accessing Your Data

After your data has been copied successfully to the identified Microsoft 365 environment, your Box account will be locked so that the files within Box can no longer be edited. After a certain time period for verification of your migrated data, the files will be removed from Box. You will be able to access your migrated data via Microsoft 365 applications on your machine, or you will navigate directly into SharePoint or OneDrive online via a browser.

During the verification window, please contact Northwestern IT about any issues you notice. Contact the IT Service Desk via or by phone (847-491-4357 (1-HELP). After the verification window, your Box data will be inaccessible.

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