Archive Migration Tool

Top 10 Questions to ask of your Archive Migration Tool

Chay Douglas Data Migration, TransVault

Thinking about migrating from an archive and don’t really want to have to put in the man-hours to get it done? There are solutions available that automate this process, relieving the load and reducing human error. What you need to know, is what to ask of your archive migration tool. If it answers these 10 questions satisfactorily, then it may just be the answer you’re looking for.

Top 10 questions to ask of your archive migration tool

1. Does it migrate from my existing archiving platform to my target system?

Firstly and obviously, we need to know that it can perform the tasks required!

So, if it’s not able to extract from your source archive system it’s immediately of no use. However if it cannot migrate to your target system, while this would be a huge negative against the tool, it could still be useful for the process of migration from the source archive. For example, if it can extract from the source to a PST file, the PST file can then be ingested into the target system.

2. How long is it going to take to complete the migration?

Again, one of the foremost questions that will be asked when undertaking a migration project is: “How long is it going to take?”

As always, the faster the better. Find out previous and expected throughput results. Weigh up the amount of data you wish to migrate. Undertake rough calculations of expected time. Don’t forget to take into consideration environmental limitations such as; connectivity speeds, message throttling on source and/or target systems and size limitations on the target system and/or any scratch areas that may be required.

3. How much is it going to cost?

One thing these ‘Top x things to look for in a product’ often tend to miss off is the glaringly obvious, “Can I afford this product?”

The cost of the whole migration is often the most paramount for all teams involved and really needs to be assessed. Obviously, as always, the cheaper the better but the best procedure never happens to be the cheapest route, does it?!

While there is a need to drive costs down, the timescale needs to be reasonable and the following points should be addressed to achieve the best results.

4. Can it filter which data is migrated?

When migrating away from an archiving system, it tends to be that it has reached the end of its life with a company as it is outdated. As such, it will usually consist of vast amounts of data that is and will no longer be much use. What needs to be asked of the migration tool is can I pick and choose what data is migrated?

Are users really going to be accessing emails sent 10 years ago? Do the emails of former users that have left the company really need to be migrated to the new system? Do all message classes from the source archives need to be migrated?

If you answer ‘no’ to any of these questions, it may be worth considering finding an archive migration tool that can filter which data is migrated.

When comparing tools, the whole process of filtering these emails needs to be addressed. Does Tool 1 only migrate ALL data but in a shorter timescale whereas Tool 2 allows filtering of data but still the migration times are considerably longer? If I extract all the data and then delete unnecessary data from the target, would it still be quicker than filtering? However, as we will discuss later, would this increase the possibility of human error?

5. Will it keep my data compliant?

Do you have a need to ensure data is kept for a certain amount of time?
Does that data have to be easily accessible or searchable?
Are emails currently being journaled and can this previously journaled data be migrated to the target?

If you do have data compliance rules in place, the archive migration tool in question needs to be able to migrate that data to the target whilst keeping it searchable.

6. Can it extract to / from PSTs?

PSTs, as you will know, cause huge headaches in the IT world. Keeping track of them, ensuring data in these are being backed up and accessible.

When migrating to a new target archive, these PST files in the source may need migrating in order to keep to compliancy constraints or if PST files will no longer be permitted but the data needs to still be accessed.

In these cases the archive migration tool in question needs to be able to migrate from PSTs in a similar fashion to your source system.

The ability to extract to PSTs could be a valuable step to any migration where there are issues migrating directly to the target environment or for any troublesome items it may find throughout the migration. The items can be exported to PST files in the scratch area and then ingested to the target environment.

7. Will it mean end-users incur downtime?

The best archive migration tools have the least amount of impact on the source environment and therefore end users.

All tools are likely to have at least some impact on the resources in the source environment, that’s to be expected but, as mentioned, the minimal impact the better.

Some tools will require the source system to be running in order to utilize the API to migrate the data where as some can migrate even while the source system has been retired. The questions needed to be asked is, which tool can handle your required system (retired or needed in use). The worst tool is one that will require downtime when your users still require access.

8. How does it address error corruption?

With archiving systems holding years, possibly decades of data – there are always going to be corrupted items. The question from the migration tool is, how does it handle these items?

Can the archive migration tool discover data corruption before attempting to migrate items?
Can it highlight items that are failing to migrate and give a reason to why?
Does it come with built in troubleshooting steps to address these items?

If the archive migration tool just fails items when it comes to migrate them with no offered solution or reason, it should not be considered. Huge gaps in data would be detrimental for any migration project.

9. How easy is it to use?

It may be a simple one, but surely the tools being investigated require intuitive interfaces that can be utilized to its best ability without large amounts of training.

If it does everything that you want, but it takes a 6 month course to fully understand how to use it, it should not be considered! On the contrary, if it is easy to set up and runs at a click of the button but cannot be configured and adjusted for your environment and needs, it should not be considered either.

10. Will it reduce the risk of human error?

The more automation involved in the project, the less risk of human error will occur.

Are there lots of human interaction needed in order to utilize the migration tool? Do administrators need to keep their own track of what has been migrated or does the tool keep a record?

The tool is there to aid your project, you want for as much of the migration to be automated, or what are you paying for? Less interaction, less likelihood of human error.


To conclude, the perfect archive migration tool is, obviously, quick and cheap. It can filter items while keep data compliant and help with troublesome items. It must be easy to use and does not affect end-users while providing alternative ways to migrate, such as PST exports.

Happy Hunting!

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