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A database attach upgrade is the only supported method for upgrading SharePoint 2010 Products to SharePoint 2013 (unless you use a third-party migration tool). Database attach is used to upgrade SharePoint content and service applications.

Last week I was doing some testing with database attach upgrades from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013 when I got an error message (below). Early on in the testing I had trouble finding clear guidance on the minimum version of SharePoint 2010 recommended for use during upgrades. Eventually I found a few Microsoft webcasts that advised using version SP1 or higher. I will explain why that is important a little later in my post.


During testing I took some SQL Server backups from a test 2010 environment that I happened to have handy and brought it over to my 2013 test server. Both my web applications were created as claims-based authentication. I restored the database in SQL Server, then went over to Windows PowerShell ISE and ran my Test-SPContentDatabase.


Then I got this strange error message:

test-spcontentdatabase error claims upgrade sharepoint 2013

The [webapp name] web application is configured with claims authentication mode however the content database you are trying to attach is intended to be used against a windows classic authentication mode. There is an inconsistency between the authentication mode of target web application and the source web application. Ensure that the authentication mode setting in upgraded web application is the same as what you had in previous SharePoint 2010 web application.


This error had me scratching my head because both web applications were claims and this error was acting like they weren’t. I checked the farm version, and it was pre-SP1. Ouch. I went to another environment that was at a level post SP1, so I created test web application and went through the same process.

This time I didn’t get an error. Instead I saw this message:


test-spcontentdatabase error claims upgrade sharepoint 2013

My original error is proof of why you should use SharePoint 2010 version SP1 or higher to avoid unnecessary problems with your upgrade. SP1 sets a good minimum for use in 2010 and makes a good platform when migrating to 2013. You could consider creating the 2013 web application as classic then convert it later but I have a feeling you will run into more issues down the road. 


Regardless of what approach you take, don’t forget the importance of testing and planning for a successful upgrade! If you’re new to SharePoint 2013 upgrades, I suggest you check out my Upgrading to SharePoint 2013 presentation on slideshare. The downloadable presentation includes a high-level upgrade guide, migration tools and other helpful resources.

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