How Long Does Data Migration Take? Factors to Consider

How long does data migration take for a company optimizing its data storage or transforming its operations in the ...

How long does data migration take for a company optimizing its data storage or transforming its operations in the cloud? Moving a massive amount of data from one computer system or platform to another isn’t an easy task, but with the right migration partner, it's fast, efficient and beneficial to your company's success. Knowing how to estimate a timeline for the data migration process and the factors affecting it can help you plan your migration to go more smoothly and quickly.

how long does a migration take-2

How Long Does Data Migration Take, on Average?

Though there are many factors involved, a data migration process could take as little as a few days, or a few weeks to move your information. Typically, though, larger companies need a timeline of several months because of the amount of data involved. This job takes time to do right, as it's a detailed process with a lot depending on the accuracy of the migration.

Why Is Data Migration Important?

Data migration takes outdated, cumbersome processing and storage methods and brings them current with a platform or application that directly addresses the pain points of an organization. Around 53% of IT decision-makers report achieving their business goals more consistently with a software upgrade to cloud hosting. There are numerous benefits of retiring legacy systems in favor of cloud-based hosting and storage:

  • Improved speed and performance to handle increased traffic and access demand
  • Advanced security measures without a complicated infrastructure
  • Autoscaling for improving access or delivery of services
  • Continual, reminder-free data backup
  • Increased flexibility for remote or off-premise work and connectivity

Without a plan and an experienced team overseeing your migration, you could lose your competitive edge and miss out on these benefits. The effectiveness of the process and length of time your data migration project takes impact your bottom line and long-term success.

Cloud Migration CTA

What Factors Impact the Data Migration Process?

With so many moving parts to data migration, having a strategy in place to address the possible challenges of the process is important. Working with a data migration partner and carefully planning the process helps things go smoothly. Several things factor into how long you can expect data migration to take.

Data Volume

The amount of data you are working with impacts the time to complete the changeover. Most organizations need to transfer all or almost all of their records or information, since client data, sales information and other data often stay relevant and retention is crucial. Although the data cleansing process could eliminate duplicate records, you will likely have a significant amount of information to preserve. The more data you have, the longer the migration time.


The type and format of your data also impact your migration process. If you are going from one structure to another, your existing data may need reformatting to work correctly in the new system. The migration team will also have to look for problems within the data itself, whether that is incomplete, duplicate or inaccurate records or files.

Successful data migration makes for useful, accurate data ready for use. To achieve this, removing errors or reformatting data is a painstaking but necessary process. No matter how insignificant errors may seem, they can delay your project because it takes time to find and resolve them.


Where your data originates is the source platform in a data migration. The nature of that platform or system can affect migration timelines. Some source applications lack the automation and technological sophistication of the target platform receiving the information, creating complications in the exchange.

Target System

The place where your data is headed is called the target platform. At the outset of your data migration planning, you will determine the end goals for the new system. This guides your migration team on how to work with the data before, during and after the migration process. Depending on the new system and format the data needs to be in, it could require extra time for formatting, testing the transferred information and other concerns.

Available Resources

Opting to partner with an experienced data migration specialist will affect your project's timeline. Though you could find various do-it-yourself migration tools on the market, the risks of losing data or getting an unusable final product are often too high. It’s always best to work with a team experienced in data migration if you want to avoid significant expenses and downtime.

There are also a number of tools available to help a migration go more smoothly. Access to extract, transform and load tools, backup and recovery software, and cloud migration tools makes a big difference in how quickly the work is done. Experienced migration teams know exactly what your transfer process needs.

How Does Data Migration Work in Detail?

Before you can estimate how long your migration project will take, you need to understand how your data will be moved. There are two primary approaches to transferring data.

Big Bang Migration

With the big bang process, all of your data assets move from your source platform to the target environment in one operation. This happens very quickly, but all systems are down and unavailable for use when the data is transforming and moving to the new system. Many organizations wanting to minimize downtime will schedule the migration over a weekend or on a holiday when no one needs to access the system.

Depending on the amount of data you have, the actual migration could take just a few hours and avoid the problem of having to work with two different systems at one time. However, despite how quickly data migration happens with this approach, it isn’t good for businesses that need to be operational 24/7.

Trickle Data Migration

With the trickle data migration process, your organization takes a phased approach to the transition. This method breaks down your overall goals for the transfer into sub-migrations, meaning you migrate pieces of data or portions of your legacy system at the time.

One of the benefits of a trickle down strategy is the ability to avoid downtime. You use your legacy system and new system concurrently, as the data is only transferred in small increments. While it helps provide your customers with constant operations, this method increases the total time it takes to complete your migration project. You could spend weeks or months to achieve a full integration and completion.

How Can You Estimate Data Migration Completion Time?

For a more exact answer on how long data migration will take for your business, there are four techniques commonly used by migration specialists to provide accurate estimates of the timeline.

Top Down or Analogous

Estimates using this method often come during the beginning of the project lifecycle. These projections come from the efforts or costs associated with similar projects done previously or the duration of the project until successfully completed.

Bottom Up or Decomposition

This method gives organizations more definitive estimates, as the entire project is broken down into the lowest meaningful tasks and assigned costs based on effort. It relies on a Work Breakdown Structure to define the tasks, and the level of effort required for each comes from established standards from previous projects or a consensus based on expert opinions.

Expert Opinion or Delphi

Using the Expert Opinion method, a group of experts and a moderator meet to discuss the different areas and tasks of the project. Each member of the group creates a task list with estimates for each area of effort. The moderator takes all the estimates and task lists and shares them with the team, which then iteratively works through key assumptions until they reach a consensus for each task.

Parametric or Object-Based

For more definitive estimates of how long data migration takes, you can take a parametric approach. The process requires a standard of evaluation for a single task or activity that relies on data from previous experience. Estimate models include adjustable parameters that take into account team member experience, risk tolerance, work driver complexity and other details.

These standards are tailored to meet the requirements of the project and also build in “what-if” scenarios. The detailed work effort drivers include:

  • Number of critical data elements
  • Number of tables
  • Number of data objects
  • Total number of tests to perform
  • Total number of remediation tasks planned

The more planning you can put into the data migration, the more accurate your projected timeline will be. Part of the strategic planning process is identifying the possible challenges or concerns that could derail both your timeline and your budget. Knowing these in advance allows your data migration specialist to develop solutions to keep your project on track.

Cloudficient Can Answer How Long Does Data Migration Take and Other Questions

For expert help migrating from your legacy system to Microsoft 365, our team at Cloudficient is ready. We can guide you through a timeline for the data migration process with our unmatched next-generation migration technology. You can have confidence in our fast, scalable and seamless services. Visit our website or contact us to bring Cloudficiency to your migration project.

With unmatched next generation migration technology, Cloudficient is revolutionizing the way businesses retire legacy systems and transform their organization into the cloud. Our business constantly remains focused on client needs and creating product offerings that match them. We provide affordable services that are scalable, fast and seamless.

If you would like to learn more about how to bring Cloudficiency to your migration project, visit our website, or contact us.

Cloud Migration CTA

Similar posts