A major problem for organizations that rebrand or have a Merger, Acquisition, or Divestiture (MAD) is that previously, the SharePoint Online URL could not be changed.  Since OneDrive for Business is mostly SharePoint on the backend, this limitation also covers OneDrive for Business Sharing Links.

The inflexible nature of the SPO URL created all sorts of problems for these common issues:

  • Subsidiaries trying to mask their parent companies’ identity
  • Rebranding
  • Company Splits, Acquisitions, Mergers, & Divestitures
  • Misspellings (not joking: This is more common than you think!)

Before this rename option, the only option was to migrate to another tenant or just put up with the URL issue. The rename program has been in various stages for a while, and as of this article’s publishing date, we now see a good formal path for this Private Preview program.  Clients can nominate themselves into the program using the link at the bottom of the screen.

We should note that this program only covers the SharePoint URL.  While this does include the user’s OneDrive for Business URL, it will not change the user’s Microsoft Online Email Routing Address (MOERA).   Commonly most of us call this the users “.onmicrosoft.com address.”  The MOERA issue is a quite different topic that will warrant a future accompanying article on the topic; however, in this article, I am going to review the Private Preview program for Renaming the SharePoint Online URL. 

Five Considerations for Renaming SharePoint Online URL

As exciting as this powerful new feature is, one must be extremely cautious.  Below are five primary considerations when looking at renaming your SharePoint domain:

  1. Redirects Have Amazing Potential
    The big news with this rename is that users should not have to reshare documents.  For those that have done a lot of tenant-to-tenant work before, we know this colossal impact.  At Microsoft Ignite last year, we saw a future demo of the SharePoint cross tenant migration process.  While the migration program isn’t in preview yet, we saw a demo that showed this redirection for documentation from the source tenant to the target tenant.

    We see this redirect behavior in the Rename SharePoint Domain feature.  With the redirects, most of the end-user impacts, for normal sharing behavior, will be handled.  This will make this a lot easier for most end-user situations.

  2. Redirects Won’t Always Fix Everything
    As impressive as the redirects are, they do not handle everything. 

    For end-users clicking on previous share links, their Office client & web browser can navigate the redirect.  However, many applications will need to be coded to handle these redirects.  In the warning page of the preview program (which is exceptionally long), we see that many of the issues are related to applications being unable to navigate the HTTP 308 redirect.

    A big challenge here is that few organizations have a comprehensive test tenant.  There are lots of applications that can leverage SharePoint, and most of these applications are only in production.  This lack of a test environment means you will not know the full impact until you execute the rename. 

    This issue isn’t Microsoft’s fault.  What will remain to be seen is if applications will update to consume these redirects.  Depending on the application, this could be a great idea, bad for application performance, or bad for SharePoint performance – we’ll just have to see how this situation develops.

    If your organization uses a backup solution for SharePoint Online & OneDrive for Business, you will want to test these functions as its very new.  Like any backup plan, you also need to test recovering this scenario as well.

  3. Admin URL does not change: Your Scripts & Tricks Might Break
    One great thing is that the Admin URL stays the same.  This means your connection strings and such will continue to work, as well as several other items.

    One bad thing is that the Admin URL stays the same!  The issue with the admin URL staying the same is you can’t just go through your bag of scripts and do a global “find and replace.”

    As a result of the inconsistency, when you update scripts, you will need to do it carefully.  If doing a find and replace, ensure that you do the entire URL, not just the domain.

    When it comes to SharePoint/One Drive tooling, your new opening line will be “we have one of those tenants where we renamed our primary URL.”

  4. There is no clear way to know how long the process will take
    This renaming process is a backend process.  Those who have ejected a domain before know how hopeless it can feel for backend processes to run.  A change this significant will take time, and you will have no way of knowing where it is in the current version. 

    I suspect this will get better over time, but if the process is still running Sunday night, you have no way of knowing how far along it is, if it is stuck and if it will finish before user’s login Monday morning.  For large tenants, this is time to work with your account Team and understand the timing better and what options may be available to you.

  5. Preview isn’t General Availability (GA)
    Preview programs have limited support.  If you attempt to open a case with Microsoft, your support will be limited.  If you are going to use this new feature, you need to understand the additional risk that this has and ensure your business leaders understand this risk.  The need to rebrand will push you to do this task, but they need to understand the potential for getting stuck mid-process.

    If you consider using this Private Preview in a production environment, you need to engage with your Microsoft Account Team.  They can help guide you and prevent a resume-producing event.

Documentation Review

As with anything, you should start by reading the full documentation which can be found here:  Rename your SharePoint domain – SharePoint in Microsoft 365 | Microsoft Docs

The documentation is very comprehensive, with many details to review.  As of this publication, it includes seven printed pages of limitations and their impacts.  They are split into Low, Medium & High impacts.  Most of them can be broken down into the following categories:

  • Ensure your End Points are up to date so they can consume the redirections
  • Known Applications that will need to be updated to the new URL
  • eDiscovery holds & related issues
  • Awareness of issues with deletions, recovery warnings & multi-geo limitations

It’s very important to take these impacts and assess each one.  For example, in the low-risk category, you will see this entry: 

App/Feature:  OneDrive sync app (OneDrive.exe)
Limitation:  The organization name displayed in Office apps isn’t changed. (For example, the app displays the old folder name C:\Users\Sophia\OneDrive – Contoso)
Action Required:  Users can disconnect and reconnect their account in the Office app.

If I were personally doing this planning, I would include the steps to remediate this in my user documentation.  It would be prudent to take all these impacts and put them in an Excel spreadsheet for review, and this item is one that many users may find confusing after the rename.  You should assess and take action on every impact listed in the documentation.

Should I do this?

At the time of writing this article, if you have a complex or large tenant, it is my recommendation that you do not move forward with this initiative.  If you have a small tenant and are doing basic document functions, you are are likely a viable candidate.  No matter what you do, please read the documentation and make sure you understand all of the impacts. 

As stated above, if you are going to do this in production, make sure you engage with your Microsoft Account Team. With these limitations in mind, you should review all options available to resolve the business issue.  When these domain issues occur, it is best to look at other options instead of taking on this risk.  Such choices include educating stakeholders on the risk; exploring the root business cause for the change; migrating a subset of users to a different tenant, and more.

Further Reading

This is just one example of where we can alleviate potential issues. As we saw at Ignite 2020, Microsoft is starting to take these MAD issues seriously. However, just like this renaming of the SharePoint Online URL feature, they are still in preview.

Tackling M&A features is a never-ending battle.  As new features are released, we do not see MAD being part of their planning, at least initially.

Notes From My Testing

When I went to test this feature, it was not in my test tenant.  I was able to register and have the feature added.  The request form is located here:  https://aka.ms/SPOTenantRenameNomination.

The request was approved on the same day for me.  You will then need to follow the documentation.  For example purposes, I have included the steps I followed here:

  1. Add New Domain
    • Go to portal.azure.com
    • Log in and go to the Azure Active Directory Section
    • On the left-hand navigation menu, choose “Custom Domain Names”
    • Then add a custom domain name that is available
  2. Confirm you are ready for the rename process
    • Double-check with internal stakeholders, etc.
  3. Schedule the renamed job
    • You must do this more than 24 hours in advanced
    • You need to have the SharePoint Online PowerShell module installed. 
      • You must be running version 16.0.21314.0 or later
        • Import-module -Name Microsoft.Online.SharePoint.PowerShell
      • If you have multiple versions running side-by-side, you will need to define the newer version by using the -version switch
        • Import-module -Name Microsoft.Online.SharePoint.PowerShell -version 16.0.21314.0
  4. Connect
    • Connect-SPOService -Url https://example-admin.sharepoint.com
    • Enter your admin credentials
  5. Schedule the rename process
    • Start-SPOTenantRename -DomainName examplenew -ScheduleDateTime YYYY-MM-DD HH:MM:SS
      • Note, if your new domain is examplenew.sharepoint.com, you will enter examplenew for the domain name
      • In the 16.0.21314.0 module, I ran into an issue where I could not use the -ScheduleDateTime switch.  Instead, I submitted the command without the switch and then was prompted for the parameter

Other Important Things to Note

This program has been in several forms for a long time.  Even when I was drafting up this article the guidance changed, causing a bit of editorial debate. For a brief period the documentation stated that it was being rolled out from smaller tenants to larger ones.  We now see the documentation shows there is a nomination process for private preview, and this article now reflects this. 

It continues to show how big of a feature this is, and frankly, how complicated it is.  Most of us would agree that this is a function that needs careful planning and execution.  Having the feature gated off, in my opinion, is the right thing to do in order to protect administrators and ensure that everyone is clear on the potential impacts.

I hope you found this information helpful.  The rename of the SharePoint Online URL Preview program is an excellent sign of all the MAD work Microsoft is putting into Office 365.  There’s a long way to go, but slowly we are starting to see more and more of these features becoming accessible.

About the Author

Mike Weaver

Mike is a Senior Product Manager at Quest.  Mike specializes in Office 365 tenant-to-tenant migrations and PST migration projects. With a wealth of experience in mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures (MAD), Mike often writes about technology solutions and personnel considerations to ensure both successful integration and adoption.  Mike can also be found on Twitter (@MADMike_365) or from time to time on his blog (http://www.madmike.net)


  1. Najwan

    Hi mike thanks for this post, i have a similar request and i am reviewing the limitations posted by microsoft and i am concerned abt the below:
    “The Quick access links in OneDrive and SharePoint won’t work.”

    What it does it mean ?

    This function will never work even if u browse a given site several times using the new domain?

    Or it will be reset showing blank and how it will be the user experience?

    If it never works i believe this is a serious limitation

    I am not sure if u have tested this and will thankful to share your experience

  2. Shaun

    This is a fantastic write up. All my questions were answered and I only needed to search for ‘how long’.


    At this time, we are going to continue to recommend a full migration to a new tenant.

    Thanks, Mike.

  3. Syed Muqeem

    Thank you for the insight Mike. this is very much applicable to us

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