A Brief Summary of Data Migration Solutions

Data migration solutions are nothing more than moving data from one place to another. But, there are several options for moving data effectively.

If you’re in the market for data migration solutions, you should learn the basics before hiring an IT company to help.

Data migration can be automated, semi-automated, or manual.

Two people migrate data between servers from server room
Two people working on a data migration solution from the server room. Photo by Science in HD.

Semi-automated migrations are a hybrid where a human must push a button or perform a task before the next automated stage starts. Each stage may perform several steps automatically, but a human must kick off the next stage after presumably doing some quality checks.

For this article, we’ll only discuss automated and manual.

There are also several types of data transfer, each with its nuances:

  1. Partial transfer
  2. One-to-one transfer of the entire server

Partial Transfer

In a partial transfer, you select the files to copy. If you want your technical support staff to transfer specific directories, files, and configs to the new server, you’ll have to list them all in the transfer request support ticket.

If you’re moving a large number of small files (under 1K each), the transfer will take longer to complete.

When transferring files to a new server, you may need to initialize your disk drives. It depends on what kind of files you will move and if there are already files on the new server.

Manual Data Transfer

A manual transfer is when one or both servers are missing the ISPmanager software.

ISPmanager is a web server control panel for website owners and hosting providers.

As a rule, transfer the site and database files manually.

Transfer time depends on the file quantity, the uniformity of the servers, and the data location. Sometimes the data transfer technician has to collect the files from the entire server and use alternate methods to migrate your data.

A manual data transfer is going to take the longest because it requires frequent human intervention. Not that human intervention is a bad thing; if you have a complex migration, automated tools may not work, and you’ll want a human to monitor progress.

Here are some areas that people miss when migrating data. Don’t forget to include this in your support request:

  • Settings for web servers and email
  • Databases (e.g., Postgres, MySQL, SQL Server)
  • Employee and administrative mailboxes
  • Cron jobs — automated tasks that run on a schedule
  • Third-party software that you installed

One-to-One Data Transfer

The one-to-one transfer option is ideal for cases when you have non-standard settings on the server and you want to keep everything as it is.

Programmatic Porting

With a programmatic migration, the data is copied from the old server to the new one except for dev, sys, and proc directories.

This method takes longer because useless data like sessions, temporary files, and logs slow down the migration to the new server. These files are usually tiny, and small files take longer to transfer due to the overhead of opening a connection, moving the file, and closing the connection for thousands of files.

Superuser SSH access is a mandatory requirement for both servers with programmatic porting.

During the migration, the source server remains available.

You can check the site’s operation on the new server and make critical updates or configuration changes before modifying your DNS records to point to the new location.

  • Transferring data to a smaller disk is possible
  • The load on the server dramatically affects the speed of data transfer
  • All data on the destination server will be deleted or overwritten

While the transfer is running, do not make any changes to the source server because those changes may not migrate. To ensure that you have all of the data, run the migration a second time to pick up any changed files since the first run.

Transfer Your IP Address

You can keep the old IP address when moving between servers as long as you move sites or servers within the same hosting provider.

For example, you can transfer your site from Liquid Web to Cloudways, but you won’t be able to keep your old IP address.

Network switch with Cat6 cables used in data migration solutions
Use data migration solutions to transfer your IP address. Photo by Lars Kienle.

If you contact technical support in advance with a question about transferring an IP address, they will tell you which plan you can purchase so that you can technically migrate your IP address.

IP-address transfer can occur without transferring data from server to server, so always warn technical support if you want to move only the IP or the IP along with files.

If you are going to entrust the work of transferring data to technical support, be sure, in addition to the type of transfer, to indicate:

  • Features of the project
  • The software required for the project to work

Summary

Only you or your programmer know about some of the features of your project. And for our technician, as an outsider, it can be challenging to consider all the nuances at once.

For example, a programmer may have set up non-standard manual settings outside of your CMS. Or the project pulls in third-party files that are not related to the primary working directory.

Or maybe you are using non-standard software that is not on the new server, and then, if you do not warn technical support, the site may malfunction.

Work with your data technician to clear up these issues before you engage in data migration solutions.

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