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Help Scout Data Migration Checklist

Data migration is a complex process that involves a ton of head work in advance. Some even tend to postpone it for as long as possible, fearing the amount of effort and time that has to be put into it.

However, there’s no need to put off your transfer anymore. With our Migration Wizard, you don’t have to learn codes or deal with the technical side at all. The tool is highly automated and allows you to put all the hard work on our shoulders. The process itself is very intuitive and affordable. And to make your transfer to Help Scout ten times easier, we took the time to prepare a detailed data migration checklist covering every step along the way. So, without further ado, grab a pen and a notebook, and let’s dive into the Help Scout data migration plan.

Keep in mind that this checklist is exclusive to Help Scout, with all its features and limitations, and is not suitable for other platforms.


It’s probably not a secret for anyone that each help desk is unique. This uniqueness is exactly what defines which records we can or cannot transfer to your next solution. We find it essential to state the records you CANNOT migrate to Help Scout at the very beginning so you can have a full picture of what to expect from the transfer. So, these records are:

  • Inline images
  • CC users (migrate emails of CC users into a custom field instead)
  • Contact and organization custom fields

The list of limitations is pretty small, which indicates that all the core records can be easily transferred over to Help Scout. However, if there are some records on the list you really need to migrate, but they aren’t available for the automatic transfer, worry not. Simply contact our support team and we will offer you a possibility of personalized transfer and discuss all the peculiarities.

Before You Set Up The Migration

We’ve already mentioned above that data migration is a complex process. As a matter of fact, it is hard even to find a head-start as there are so many things to consider. But we’re ready to lay it all out for you. In this section, we'll discuss all the steps you should take to cut corners and speed things up while still preserving the data integrity. Let’s dive in.

1. Define a date

It may sound obvious, but this step has to be approached with a lot of consideration. There are quite a few factors you have to keep in mind, before sitting down to select the cut-off date.

  • First of all, you have to give yourself enough time to prepare for the transfer thoroughly. We can’t give you a specific period of time, as for some preparation takes just a couple of days and for others - more than two weeks. Your data, its amount, and quality are the things that define the whole process.
  • Secondly, you should be prepared to completely turn off and say goodbye to your current help desk right before the cut-off date. Starting from that point, no data entry should go into your old platform.
  • Last but not least, you will experience downtime on the day of the migration. Downtime means that you won’t be able to work on any help desk solution to prevent the data migration from failing. Depending on the number of records you have to transfer, the downtime may last up to 24 hours. Thus, try to aim for the day with the smallest amount of help-desk related work.
Do not rush things when it comes to something as important as data migration. Take things slowly to ensure the perfect end-results. You will, for sure, thank yourself later for taking the extra time.

2. Inform your team

Right after you make a decision about the data migration and pick the date, we recommend you gather a meeting to talk through your plans. Make sure that everyone who will be impacted by the transfer is invited. During the meeting, give your agents a heads-up about a significant change that will cause a 180-degree turn to their normal workload.

This stage is a perfect time to delegate certain responsibilities among workers. It can be anything, starting from data filtering to examining the data after the Full Data Migration. Distributing things is vital for overall accuracy and better productivity of the whole process.

A tip from the HDM team: To prevent someone from accidentally continuing work on your old help desk, set a reminder a day before. It can be an email, a calendar event, or whatever works for you the best. Just make sure, everyone remembers the big date.

It would be great if you could also inform your clients about the big changes on your blog (if you have one). That will, for sure, help them understand better why there is downtime in the first place and be more loyal when you'll be still figuring out how to manage work on Help Scout.

3. Filter your data

Open your current help desk platform and go through the existing data. Even if you think you don’t need to filter your data, we suggest you still take a look. You’d be surprised how many duplicates, unassigned ticket conversations, outdated profiles, and invalid emails you can find. Still want to keep that clatter on Help Scout? That’s why we recommend to take the time and look through all existing records. You can also use the ‘Last modified’ filter to get rid of the data that you haven’t used for years.

It may take up a lot of time, but if it means that you will have an organized help desk as the end result, it would be worth it. Your agents will, for sure, thank you when they see clean data, as it’s so much easier to work with. Plus, our service charges per migrated record, so the fewer entities you migrate – the less you’ll have to pay.

Speaking of agents - they know your data the best since they deal with on a daily basis. Ask them to separate the essential items and decide what to delete. They certainly know what can and should be left out.

However, we fully understand that not everyone has enough time or human resources to do the filtering manually. That’s why we always offer the opportunity for automated filtering. The process is not free but it does the job just perfectly. If you don’t want to spend hours going through your data, simply opt for our help. Drop us a line in advance and tell us the criteria you want your data to be filtered with and we’ll do the rest for you.

4. Prepare for the migration

An important part of the preparation process belongs to making the necessary adjustments on Help Scout. This will ensure that the migration goes as seamlessly as possible. We suggest you pay attention to the following:

1. Create mailboxes. In Help Scout, your team will use a mailbox to answer all of your incoming emails. But, before you actually get to use it, you will have to create it yourself manually. To do so, go to Manage > in the drop-down menu select Mailbox > New Mailbox.

creating mailboxes in help scout

creating mailboxes in help scout

2. Create custom fields. Right off the bat, Help Scout will not have the same custom fields you’re currently using. If you want to preserve the structure of data, as well as to locate everything instantly after the migration is over, you will have to manually create matching custom fields on Help Scout beforehand. The process is very simple and will not take much time. To do so, simply click Mailbox > Settings > in the dropdown menu choose Custom fields > New Custom Field.

creating custom fields in help scout

creating custom fields in help scout

Note that Help Scout doesn't allow you to create custom fields for Contacts, only for Tickets.

3. Add agents. For the migration to go through, you will have to create agents on Help Scout with the same emails as on your current help desk. This is done so our tool can properly assign all the tickets during the transfer. To add agents on Help Scout, simply go to Manage > Users > New User. Also, don’t forget to add your agents to correct mailboxes!

adding agents in help scout

creating users in help scout

Make sure you have admin rights to both your accounts in the source platform and Help Scout for migration to go through.

5. Consider the limitations and peculiarities

Getting to know the main features and limitations of Help Scout is equally important as any of the steps described here. It is beyond important to do so, to avoid any unexpected mishaps. So, before the Full Data Migration to Help Scout you should know that:

  • You can choose only one mailbox for migration. If you want to have more than one, there are two possible solutions. First of all, you can perform several migrations, each for a different mailbox. The second option – contact the HDM team to perform a customized transfer.
  • Because you’re only allowed to migrate to one mailbox, there's a place for some contradictions. If you have different emails in the source help desk and Help Scout, you will need a customized mapping. When creating a User Account on the Help Scout, add +1 to the one you had on the source. If you had a standard email account (like user@mail.com) on your current help desk, it should look like this on Help Scout - user+1@mail.com. The system will automatically map them.
  • If you’re migrating Knowledge Base articles, make sure you turn on/create Docs beforehand.
  • Tickets can have no more than 100 comments on the platform.
  • Do not deactivate end-users because we will not be able to migrate their cases.

6. Contact HDM team

After you’ve completed all the previous steps, feel free to reach out to our team to discuss all the definitive details of the upcoming migration. We will also coordinate your further actions, ensure that everything goes smoothly, and advise when any questions arise.

It's also the perfect timing to discuss the possible customizations, like migrating Contact custom fields into Contact ‘Notes’ to preserve the needed data. We’re quite flexible in the term of personalized transfer, just make sure you inform us about it in advance.

You’re Almost Ready

1. Turn off notifications

If you don't want your end-users and admins to be bombarded with numerous emails, make sure you turn off Notifications. It requires just a few minutes of your time but will prevent unwanted notifications from taking place. To do so, simply click on Profile icon > Your Profile >Notifications > turn off the needed notifications.

turning off notifications in help scout

how to turn off notifications in help scout

2. Start Demo Migration

People are more likely to venture to a Full Data Migration if they can experience a free sneak-peek into how things will look like after transfer to Help Scout. That is precisely what our trial offers. During the demo, we will take a small chunk of data and migrate it to the Help Scout. The process is entirely free and will take no more than 5 minutes. If something doesn’t line up properly, you can return to mapping, do the needed adjustments, and initiate the demo again. You can repeat the trial several times if needed until you get the perfect results.

Before the trial migration, you will have to insert the necessary credentials from the source and target platforms, including the Help Scout Docs API key. If you don’t know where to find one, check out the article on our website.

After the Demo Migration

1. Check the results of the demo

The demo migration mirrors the way the Full Data Migration will go, but on a smaller scale. This also means that any problems present during the trial are likely to appear during the actual transfer. To prevent that from happening, we suggest you check the test portion of the data carefully. We kept it intentionally small so you can check each without spending extra time.

After the demo migration, make sure to check if:

  • the comments got migrated and if the authors of the comments are the same
  • all tickets are assigned to the correct agents
  • the custom fields got migrated
  • all customers and companies are migrated correctly
  • the attachments and labels are migrated
NOTE! It’s crucial to check each ticket, primarily its location and quality features.

We also have a detailed guide on how to check the demo migration results to Help Scout. If you find something out of place, don’t hesitate to drop us a line. Our agents will help you resolve the issue and ensure that Full Data Migration goes smoothly.

2. Request a custom demo

If you have some tickets with more replies, attachments, or notes than your usual ones and want to see how they migrate over to Help Scout, feel free to request a custom demo - we’ll transfer the specific ticket IDs that you want. Simply contact our team beforehand to discuss all the needed details.

During the Migration Process

1. Keep in mind the basics

You're almost ready to initiate the migration. However, double-proof that you'll be running the Full Data Migration on a day with the smallest amount of incoming requests to prevent any interference in the process.

Our team will keep an eye on everything, but your presence may help a lot. You aren't required to just sit in front of the computer screen every second of the migration - just check on the transfer from time to time, or ask your team members to do so. As soon as something seems a bit off, we'll inform you right away. Our agents will do everything to either resolve the issue or coordinate your further actions.

2. Start Full Data Migration

After you've checked everything and feel confident about the results of demo migration, press 'Start' to initiate the Full Data Migration. Starting from this very moment, all records will start to migrate one by one to Help Scout. We cannot give the exact time frames the process will take, as it mostly depends on the amount of data you're migrating (remember we stressed the importance of cleaning the old desk?).

Note: The migration process will only begin until the payment is confirmed. The confirmation process may take some time, so it's recommended to pay in advance, especially if you have a specific time you want to start at.

3. Don’t change anything

Even if you’ve checked everything thoroughly several times, there’s a slight chance you might feel the urge to change something spontaneously while the transfer is in progress. But DO NOT try to do it. While the Full Data Migration is running, all you're left to do is monitor the process from time to time. Even the smallest alterations can cause a thousand failures to happen, and considering all the efforts put into the preparation, it wouldn't be the best choice to make. In case you notice something isn’t right, report us the problem and let the professionals handle it. Do not try to resolve the issue yourself.

Please, double-check that your source help desk is completely turned off, and no new data is coming in to prevent any mishaps.

After The Import Is Done

1. Check everything carefully

Well, the hard part is over now. However, there’re still some important things that have to be done. They are equally important for your perfect experience with Help Scout. So, as you might have guessed from the title, you will have to carefully inspect the results of the Full Data Migration. If no issues appeared after the demo migration, most likely, things went smooth here as well. However, just to double proof – go through your data and examine everything.

It’s no longer that small portion of data. So you will probably need your agents’ help with it to cut the time. You shouldn't only check the number of different entities but make sure they are readable and in place. A proper inspection right after the Full Data Migration leaves a place for free correction on our side if noticed right away (within five days after the migration date). If you notice something out of place, get in touch with our team.

2. Update your platform

You're almost ready to use Help Scout. Enable all the notifications and other settings that you had to turn off and update internal links for Knowledge Base articles, and you're good to go.

Last but not least, re-forward your emails to Help Scout.

Wrapping it up

Your new workspace is now ready to be running. As you can see, the data migration is not that complicated if you have a detailed guide to follow.

If you still have some questions about the migration to Help Scout, our super-friendly support team is always ready to answer all of them. Just click on the chat icon to contact our agents.

More data migration checklists here.

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