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What is Data Migration? — A Comprehensive Guide To Transfers

You have migrated data before. Be it from your old cell phone to a smartphone. Be it automatically or manually, chances are you already have a slight clue of what stands behind the process. If not, then you’ve come to the right place. Today we will define data migration, how it works and what you can expect from it. Thus, without further delay, let’s see how data migration is done!

What Is Data Migration?

Instead of wasting time talking about the benefits of data migration, we’d like you to focus all your attention on these definitions. We will try to keep the definitions as tech-free as possible, as well as we’ll try to explain how each method works.

Data migration is a process where data is being transferred to a new system all while still maintaining a copy on the source platform.

To put it simply, every time you move your data from one place to another, you don’t cut it, you copy it. Meaning that the source platform retains all the information. So, what does data migration mean? Usually when someone says “data migration” they mean that they will no longer be using the old platform.

How Data Migration Works

The data migration process is usually divided into two phases, namely, planning and migration. During the first phase, you need to understand what data you need and what you can afford to leave. Throughout this phase, you also need to assess all dependencies surrounding the process.

The second phase is the process of migration itself. Users will extract the migration file that can be formatted in all sorts of extensions, including but not limited to, CSV, XML, JSON, etc. This file is then imported to the target platform and depending on the system, you will either move all your information or migrate only some of it.

Automated Migrations

But this method isn’t the only way to move all your data. In fact, there are tools that leverage API and can automate the process. Take for instance our solution. When you’ve decided that it’s time to change your help desk software, you simply fire-up our system and wait for the migration wizard to complete the data migration process. During your wait, the system will automatically read all the data from the source platform, make a copy of it, and only then it will start writing all the records to the target destination.

Keep in mind that new data entries that were made during the migration process will not be moved to the new platform. If you want to move the newly added records, you can do it manually, or write a script that will do it for you.

Related reads: How Much Time Does Data Migration Take?


With automatic migrations take into consideration that the process can be lengthy and it has its limitations in the form of an API calls. For those of you unaware, an API limit occurs when an app makes too many requests within a small time frame. This means that when a tool requests too many calls, the API will deny access for a certain period of time. This system is in place to ensure good performance, and reduce the load on the platform.

So if you’re going to use the API or leverage an automatic tool, make sure that the API limit on the source and target platforms is high enough to complete the migration ASAP.

Types of Data Migration

Now that we’ve learned how data migration works, it’s time we tackle commonly confused terms that look as if they are the same. We won’t be covering all of them as it will take forever, instead, we will focus on the most popular ones. So, if you’ve been wondering what are the different types of data migration, here they are:

Data Synchronization — The process is very similar to data migration but the main difference is that everything is done automatically and on a regular basis, whereas data migration is a user-driven process.

Data Integration — Occurs when you gather data from different sources into one place. This process usually copies the data, meaning that all other systems will retain all the information.

Data Import — There’s a fine line between migration and an import. Other than some technical differences, import usually means that you continue to use the main source. You just import a batch of data to the target database.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it. There are many different ways you can migrate data and each of them has a specific buzz word assigned to it. The process of migrating isn’t simple and often you will find yourself confused as to what you should do next. Hopefully, our guide eliminated some of this uncertainty and you’ve managed to learn something new. But for now, that’s all we have. If you’re looking to migrate data between help desk platforms, be sure to leave us a message. Our team will surely help you out.

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