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A Simple 6 Step Data Migration Plan

A data migration plan is the essential first step in a successful data migration project. Without one, there’s a high risk that during the process of transferring your files between systems and formats you will end up with costly downtime, corrupted or lost information and compatibility issues. 

A detailed plan with clear data migration steps can help to reduce these risks by specifying what needs to be migrated and where before it happens.

This gives you the best chance of preparing servers for new equipment, preparing personnel on how they should handle hardware changes like hard drive replacements and ensuring pre-migration backup procedures take place as well as post-transfer verification steps to ensure quality has been maintained through every stage of the transfer.

If that sounds overwhelming, don’t let it be. Below we’ve given you a simple 6 step data migration plan that you can use to cover the important bases.

Related: Find out what data migration means and its business benefits.

Close up of data migration


  1. Identify which data you’re moving, its format, and its location

Preparing for a data migration project is more than just the actual conversion of your information. It also requires you to research what kind of files are involved, where they currently live and how they should be formatted post-migration. 

By doing this pre-planning in advance, you’ll have a better idea of whether or not it’s worth changing certain security measures before going through with the move as well as spotting potential risks that may arise during the process.

  1. Plan out your migration

Once you have identified which data is going to be moved in your migration, it’s time to develop the scope of your data migration plan. Identify the resources you’ll need to call upon during the migration, and make sure you plan for a realistic budget.

Make sure your plan addresses elements like:

  • Stakeholders and their deliverables
  • Knowledge of the business domain, and system and migration expertise
  • A communication plan, alongside reporting requirements
  • Your budget
  • The migration deadlines
  • Storage
  • Access and availability to hardware

The best way to make sure that your plan is housing these elements is to actually write out a timeline for your migration. Make sure you take into account the migrations effect on business operations: For example, will it require downtime, or could the migration be completed over an evening or weekend?

In addition, if you’re using an external IT support company to handle your migration, make sure that you are honest about your dataset and the scale of the migration before you agree on costs, as this prevents you running into additional fees or over budgeting.
  1. Backup your data

Prior to migration, make sure that all of your data is backed up in a secure location. Should you encounter any problems with the process such as corrupted or missing files, these issues can be resolved by restoring them back to their original state.

Binary Blue Backup Advice: Cloud storage is the safest option for backing up data involved in a migration. Read more about cloud computing benefits here.
  1. Deploy your data migration plan

Deploying your data migration plan is the last hurdle. Before proceeding, ensure that the correct system permissions have been applied to allow the data to be successfully migrated, and make sure that all data migrating to the target has been extracted from source to system.  

It’s best to clean the data to protect the new target system, and then transform it into the correct data format for the transfer.

Once you’ve cleaned and deduplicated the data, it can be loaded into your target system following the data mapping and rules that you have laid out. It’s best at this stage to monitor the data migration throughout the process so that you can react immediately should any problems arise.

As a rule of thumb, before hitting go make sure that you have planned for:

  • How your data will be extracted, held and verified
  • Data mapping rules
  • How your data will be loaded into your new system
  • Recovery plans for each stage of the migration
  • The schedule actions need to follow before going live
  1. Test the final system

Once your migration has been completed, make sure there are no connectivity issues between source and target systems; this means ensuring everything migrated was correct, secure, and appropriately stored. To verify these facts about your data’s wanderlust adventure back home from its travels abroad you can conduct some basic tests.

Tests include unit testing (checking individual files), system level testing (easing into large volumes of data to see how it affects other parts of the computer) and volume level testing (testing larger amounts for problems on specific types of hard drives).

  1. Follow up your migration with maintenance 

As the data migration process nears completion, it’s a good idea to conduct an audit of system and quality. If any errors are found during this time, be sure to restore from backup in order not to risk corrupt or incomplete files that could cause problems with your company’s workflow.

The data migration of your SaaS company’s applications will most likely be the least error-prone part of this changeover; but even then an audit performed during and after migration reassures and ensures everything remains in order. If errors are found or missing files present themselves from any stage throughout the process, it is always best to restore them from a backup before they cause more harm than good.

Is your business considering a data migration?

With over 42 years of experience, Binary Blue can migrate your business data from on-site set-ups to cloud solutions, as well as from one target system to another. If your business is in need of assistance, get in touch today and we’ll create a smart upgrade plan designed to ensure a secure and successful migration of your data.