How to Successfully Migrate Data


Effective data migrations require thorough planning and seamless execution. Here’s how to migrate data without any problems.

Image: Studio Wright/Adobe Stock

At some point, most businesses will find themselves in a position where they will need to migrate data, workloads, or even entire applications and systems to a new location. This process can be daunting, especially for smaller, less established organizations or those with fewer experienced data professionals on staff. However, with the right people, processes, and technology in place from the start, any business can successfully migrate.

SEE: Checklist: PC and Mac migrations (TechRepublic Premium)

Whether or not your team feels “ready” to tackle such a process, understanding how data migration works and what a successful data migration looks like is an important first step. With this guide, learn how to carefully plan and execute a data migration, then create your own plan that matches your organization’s specific goals.

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Data migration strategies

When it comes to data migration, there are two main approaches: the “Big Bang” approach and the “trickle” approach. The Big Bang approach to data migration involves migrating all data at once, while the trickle-down approach involves migrating data gradually over time.

SEE: How to identify and avoid common data migration mistakes (TechRepublic)

There are pros and cons to both approaches. The Big Bang approach is generally faster and more efficient, but it can be more disruptive and cause more downtime for users. Conversely, the maintenance approach is less disruptive and results in less downtime, but it can be slower and less efficient. Either approach may work for your team, depending on your timeline and how your business operates.

Steps for a Successful Data Migration

Assess your data source

The first step is to take an inventory of your current data situation. This includes understanding the structure, format and volume of your data. Assessing your data sources will give you a good idea of ​​the effort that will be required to migrate the data and a better understanding of any roadblocks or issues the data might cause during the migration process.

Define the scope

Once you understand the current situation of your data, you need to define the scope of the migration. What data should be migrated? Is migration urgent? What is the desired end state? Answering these questions will help you create an action plan and set realistic expectations.

Back up your data

It goes without saying, but it’s essential to back up your data before beginning any sort of migration. This will give you a safety net in case something goes wrong during the process.

SEE: Best cloud backup services and solutions (TechRepublic)

Create the migration solution

There are many ways to migrate data. The most common method is to use an ETL tool. Other methods include manual scripts or third-party tools. Selecting the right tool for the job and creating a solution that will meet your specific needs is essential.

Perform live tests

Once you’ve decided on a migration solution, it’s time to test it on a small scale before migrating all of your data. This will help you identify potential issues so they can be resolved before migrating the entire data set.

Complete data migration and test again

Once you’ve confirmed that your solution is working, run the actual migration. It is crucial to test and retest your migrated data to ensure its accuracy and completeness.

Audit and manage post-migration maintenance

When your data has been successfully migrated, regularly audit your new system to make sure everything is still working properly. It’s a good idea to have a post-migration maintenance plan in place to quickly resolve any issues that may arise in the future.

Common Data Migration Challenges

Many challenges can arise during data migration. Some common challenges include:

  • Data loss: This can happen if there are errors in the migration process or if corrupt files are migrated. To avoid this, it is essential to backup all data before starting the migration process.
  • Data duplication: This happens when duplicate records are created during the migration process. To avoid this, ensure that there is a process for deduplicating records before migrating them.
  • Data Integrity: Problems can arise if there are inconsistencies between the data source and the target systems. To avoid data integrity issues, test your migration solution thoroughly before migrating all of your data.

Get started with data migration

A data migration may be on your organization’s horizon if you plan to upgrade legacy systems, move to the cloud, or consolidate data. This is a project that requires great attention to detail, careful planning, effective data governance and security plans, and focused execution.

Read next: Top Data Integration Tools (TechRepublic)

By following the steps outlined above and tailoring this plan to your own business needs, you can ensure a successful data migration for your organization and a roadmap for future migration needs.

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