Simply put, data migration is the process of transferring data from one place to another. If your organization is upgrading to a new data storage system, consolidating multiple systems, or moving to a new location entirely, you’ll need to start considering when and how to move your data.

This may sound like a simple and straightforward task, and it is certainly common: at least 70% of businesses have migrated data to cloud storage alone. However, data migration can and does go wrong, especially when it is poorly planned or executed. In this article, we’ll go through a few of the most significant dangers you may face during data migration and discuss ways to sidestep or mitigate a negative impact on your organization.

Loss of Data

One of the most serious risks during data migration is the potential for data loss. This can occur for a number of reasons, such as incorrect mapping of data fields, errors during data conversion, or simply because data is not transferred during the migration process. 

The loss of data critical for business operations can have a devastating impact. Recovery from data loss will likely be difficult, if not impossible, and the cost of data restoration can be extremely high.

How to avoid it

To minimize the risk of data loss, it is important to have a well-planned data migration strategy that takes into account the potential for data loss and includes adequate safeguards. For instance, data backups should be created before data migration begins, and data should be verified after it has been transferred to the new system. 

Testing is also an essential step in data migration. By testing the data migration process on a small scale, you’ll have the chance to identify and correct potential errors before they cause major problems.

Data Corruption

If you’re following a manual data migration process, your risk of data corruption is significant. Copying and pasting data from one place to another is tedious and prone to error: you could wind up with duplicate, mismatched, or missing data.

Even data semantics errors can cause major headaches down the line. For example, if you’re moving customer data from one database to another, you might accidentally change the format of the customer’s phone number, preventing you from being able to reach them.

How to avoid it

The best way to minimize the potential for errors during migration is to use an automated tool. Data migration software makes the whole process faster and more accurate, and leaves your employees free to focus on more substantive work. Of course, even with software doing the heavy lifting, you’ll still need to do plenty of planning and preparation. 

Even top-tier automated solutions can fail, so it’s important to have a solid backup and recovery strategy in place before you begin your migration. That way, if something does go wrong, you can quickly get your systems up and running again without losing any data.

Padlock on keyboard

Unauthorized Access

Migrating data exposes it to the risk of unauthorized access. Basically, any time data is moved, there’s a small chance it could be intercepted by someone who shouldn’t be able to see or handle it. This risk should always be on your radar, but it’s a particular concern if you’re handling sensitive information such as clients’ financial data.

How to avoid it

FIrst and foremost, your data should be encrypted during the migration process. Encrypting your data makes it much more difficult for unauthorized people to access it. When choosing an encryption method, be sure to select one that has been vetted by security experts.

Make sure you’re using secure protocols for data transfer, such as SFTP or HTTPS, to prevent your data from being accessed during transit.

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Finally, limit access to the data as much as possible. Only give people the access they need to do their jobs. Generally, the fewer people who have access to your data, the less likely it is that it will be exposed to harm.


While you’re migrating your data from one system to another, your business is at a standstill. This can be a big problem if you’re relying on that data to keep things running smoothly. Your teams won’t be able to access the data they need to do their jobs, and customers will be shut out of your systems. This can lead to lost revenue and frustrated calls to your customer service department.

How to avoid it

You can’t completely avoid this issue, but you can minimize its impact on your business. Automated data migration tools usually allow you to schedule migrations to take place during the hours when downtime will cause the fewest issues.

Communication also plays an essential role here. Make sure all teams impacted by the downtime have advance warning and the ability to plan around it.

If your migration will affect front-end systems, make sure you have a plan for handling customer inquiries during the downtime. You might need to set up a separate customer service line or email address. To really show your commitment to a high-quality customer experience, consider placing a banner on your website that explains the situation and provides contact information.

Adding items to checklist

Be Smart About Data Migration

Data migration horror stories abound, but by understanding the risks and creating a thoughtful plan, you can avoid becoming a victim.

Start by doing a thorough assessment of your data and your current system. This will help you identify any potential problems that could occur during the migration. Next, create a comprehensive migration plan that includes detailed instructions for each step of the process. Finally, be sure to test your plan thoroughly before you begin the actual migration. As long as you take these precautions, you can look forward to a successful data migration.

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