Only You Can Prevent Data Migration Failure

lpbTm1Q-1According to a research project done by consulting firm Master Data Management, 80% of all data migrations fail in some capacity.

As people who have done them know, data migrations tend to prove “Murphy’s Law” — that is “anything that can go wrong, will”.

Top 3 Dangerous Phases Where Migrations Fail

1. The Planning Phase. The key point of failure here is an insufficient inventory of all of the types of data that you need to move and how it relates to other data, reporting programs and the like. In addition to just the volume of data, paths and so forth, there is the interaction of the data with other aspects of the existing environment. A common example is a custom reporting program that exists just beneath the radar, in terms of the big picture, but is vital to the finance department. If this is not taken into account as a part of the planning phase, this connection could be severed and the finance department furious.

2. The Testing Phase. One of the common missteps in this phase is documentation. Deadlines loom, the CIO is breathing down your neck and in the rush to get ‘er done, you forget to note down how and why you did a certain thing a certain way. You are diligently testing to find your way. After 65 different changes and attempts, you finally solve the issue. The problem is you did not document the six things that were the key to the solution. Now multiply this by the number of individual people working on the migration and you are ripe for failure in some capacity.

3. The Implementation Phase. Properly planned and tested? Nothing should go wrong in the implementation phase if this is true. Right? The problem is, honestly, that planning is never truly perfect. There are a number of areas that can be commonly overlooked by busy IT working under a deadline. There are so many details you have to consider — software, storage limits, security, vital data being lost through broken links and so forth — that you can miss things or be under-prepared for emergencies. An example of an important thing that could go wrong in implementation is lack of resources to train your current users on the new system.

Bonus Tip: Leave the old system intact after the implementation is complete and monitor it to see if anything or anyone is still accessing it. If so, you probably missed something, but at least now you know.

Basically, everyone plans for a data migration to some extent, but many people underestimate how much can go wrong, and lack a grasp of how complex the data they are moving really is.

What Can Help?

We recommend making a thorough roadmap of all your folders and files. Tip: You can use your CommandPrompt to get a snapshot of your folder-structure. Open your CommandPrompt and type, without the brackets, {tree “your drive”:“your file name”}.

An example of this could be, without the brackets: {tree c:} and it would show you a tree of your entire C drive.

This will show you a cool little tree of your file structure. Alternatively, you can use a plethora of third-party tools to help you get a tantalizing glimpse of the data you need to see.

CoughCoughHintHintLink Reporter is great for showing you your files and folder structures. CoughCough. And it’s free!

We also suggest you study up on what specific things can go wrong during a data migration, such as the useful community of, where they have forums devoted to IT people swapping tips and seeking help.

One of the Largest Problems in Data Migration

One of the biggest problems of a data migration are broken file links. This issue can slip under the radar. Here’s a real-world example from someone we know:

“We were migrating from a Novell environment to Windows Active Directory and therefore had to move data from a lettered drive, which had tons of financial spreadsheets containing links to other lettered drives, to a non-lettered drive format. Therefore, we looked for any software that could automate this process and save us time. We estimated that we had some 100,000 links (at a minimum) [which would have taken us] some 2,500 hours of manually updating these links in Excel.”

Another place where we saw broken links strike: “One of our projects involved moving 30,000 finance department files, totaling 35 GB, to another server and restructuring the department’s folders to a proper hierarchy. We encountered thousands of broken links that would have taken months for us to manually repair.”

To learn more about LinkFixer Advanced, and how we can help you plan for your next big migration, visit You can also check out the full study that’s been cited in this article: “Plan for a successful data migration”.

We helped those people above by introducing them to LinkFixer Advanced, which can find and safeguard all your links before a migration, and keep them from breaking after you make your big move. That’s one problem solved!

Ed Clark | IT Advocate for LinkTek |

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