How To: Bulk download from Sharepoint

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This post goes in the "Why wasn't I able to Google that?" category. Remember this old comic?

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It turns out things that seem like they should be easily Googleable aren't. Maybe this post will be helpful to someone else out there.

I've been helping a small business migrate off Sharepoint and onto a local NAS device (Dlink DNS-323). They have about 4000 documents in 300 folders on Sharepoint hosted by Microsoft Online. How to do a bulk download? The Sharepoint UI (that they hated so much that they asked me if I could migrate them off it) gives no clues. I did searches for these without turning up anything good:

sharepoint "bulk download" "microsoft online"
bulk download sharepoint.microsoftonline.com
sharepoint server 2007 bulk download

Many people offer bulk upload tools, but what about bulk download? Certainly people want to change technologies now and again. I saw one discussion thread that vaguely mentioned WebDAV, but I found nothing about it in the online help, and I found very little for this Google search:

 "microsoft online services" webdav sharepoint

Finally I just gave it my best shot. If it does support WebDAV, which the web hasn't confirmed for me, then how would I go about it?

network-places_smallco.jpgMy laptop runs XP (still my favorite environment), so I used these steps:

  1. My Network Places
  2. Add Network Place
  3. Next
  4. Choose another network location
  5. Enter URL to Sharepoint site: https://smallcomicrosoftonlinecom-2.sharepoint.microsoftonline.com/Shared%20Documents/
  6. Give same credentials used to log into Sharepoint

The laptop of the person for whom I was doing this migration runs Vista, so the process is a little different there. I connected them using notes from a forum:

  1. Hit start menu and go to "Network"
  2. Hit Alt-button to get the tools-menu.
  3. Go to Tools -> Map Network Drive
  4. Click on the link on the bottom that says "Connect to a website that you can use to store your documents and pictures"
  5. Hit Next
  6. Choose "Choose a custom network location" and hit Next.
  7. Enter your url location...

Well, the instructions from here weren't a perfect fit, but on Vista, basically, enter the URL to Sharepoint, then the credentials, then maybe select the drive this will map to.

After connecting by WebDAV, I was able to access the entire Sharepoint site as a folder in Windows Explorer, and I could then open that folder and copy its entire contents to a local disk drive. I brought it to the laptop first, then I copied it onto the NAS drive.

At this point, the folks I'm helping out were able to disable Sharepoint logins for everyone but the administrator. They'll let their Sharepoint subscription lapse at the end of the month, which they're very happy about.

By the way, the DNS-323 that I wrote about and to which I gave a glowing review? It has extraordinarily frustrating user and group management through the web interface. Users can only belong to a single group. So if you want to have a group for managers who would access the /managers share, then a group for accounting who would access the /accounting share? You can't do it with the standard UI. As soon as you add the manager Adam to the accounting group, he is taken out of the manager group. I wound up having to telnet into the server to edit the undocumented, non-standard config file (/mnt/HD_a4/.systemfile/.smb.ses). I don't recommend this NAS for use outside the home.

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