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February 24, 2011

What Is The Difference Between Data Conversion and Data Migration?

Filed under: Data Migration — Katherine Vasilega @ 8:28 am

The terms data conversion and data migration are still sometimes used interchangeably on the internet. However, they do mean different things. Data conversion is the transformation of data from one format to another. It implies extracting data from the source, transforming it and loading the data to the target system based on a set of requirements.

Data migration is the process of transferring data between silos, formats, or systems. Therefore, data conversion is only the first step in this complicated process. Except for data conversion, data migration includes data profiling, data cleansing, data validation, and the ongoing data quality assurance process in the target system.

Both terms are used as synonymous by many internet resources. I think the reason for that might be that there are very few situations when a company has to convert the data without migrating it.

Data conversion possible issues

There are some data conversion issues to consider, when data is transferred between different systems. Operating systems have certain alignment requirements which will cause program exceptions if these requirements are not taken into consideration. Converting files to another format can be tricky as how you convert it depends on how the file was created. These are only few examples of possible conversion issues.

There are some ways to avoid data conversion problems:

    1. Always transform objects into printable character data types, including numeric data.
    2. Devise an operating system-neutral format for an object transformed into a binary data type.
    3. Include sufficient header information in the transformed data type so that the remainder of the encoded object can be correctly interpreted independent of the operating system.

Data conversion is often the most important part of data migration. You have to be very careful during this stage to assure data quality in your target system.

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