What is Online Data Migration?

Mary McMahon

Online data migration refers to the transfer of data from one location to another, often from an old server to a new one, usually in high volume. There are a wide variety of reasons for online data migration including changing hosting services, an operating system switchover, or the installation of new software. For big companies, online data migration can be an intensive process because the system may need to be kept running while data is moved, and it is crucial that no data be lost.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

One common form of online data migration is a website migration. Many bloggers have experienced this when they switch hosting services. Essentially, every website is accompanied by a database of information, so that users can access the site and the contents. As hosting needs change, a company may need to move the entire database over to a new server. Ideally, the move could be completed while a working version of the website was left up. Once the data has been moved, small changes may be necessary to get the data accessible and smoothly functional for users.

Another type of database migration involves moving or upgrading data stored in a central location. Banks often have large databases of information, as do most companies. These databases can be quite large, and often contain sensitive information. When a bank changes owners, decides to upgrade services, or needs to make repairs to a system, it is usually necessary to move the data around. This type of online data migration must be performed with special care, because the data must be secured.

Online data migration is also frequently performed when upgrades are made to a system, or when data needs to be spread out across a system to keep it running smoothly. This can sometimes involve the transfer of terabytes of sensitive, important data which cannot be damaged and needs to be moved in a streamlined fashion. After the system has been upgraded or repaired, the data can be transferred back. Specialized programs are designed to streamline the process, and are very useful when the data needs to be converted to a new format, as is often the case with software upgrades.

Many companies offer online data migration services and solutions. Companies with especially large or complex databases may take advantage of these services to ensure the safety and quality of their data. Usually the company sends a software engineer in to assess the situational needs who then returns an estimate to the company indicating how long the process will take, how much down time the system might experience, and how much the online data migration will cost. Once approved, the specialty company transfers the data and performs needed system upgrades, if requested.

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