Data migration, or the movement of data between formats and systems, is a complicated and involved process for companies. Unfortunately, it’s also a common one. Over 60 percent of enterprise-level IT projects are data migrations, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC). While necessary and common, this process can be costly — 40 percent of data migration processes take longer than expected, and many of them result in data losses and downtime. Fortunately, there are ways to get around these unexpected costs.
LinkTek Corporation is an international leader in software specifically designed to mitigate the losses associated with data migration. LinkTek’s patented software, LinkFixer Advanced, does this by automating the management of file links, safeguarding them during data migrations and repairing them when they break. The world’s first and only software to do so, LinkFixer Advanced helps IT professionals in their quest to complete data migrations as quickly and accurately as possible, minimizing losses and downtime.
How Data Migrations Can Break Links
A file link is string of text or code in a file that points to another file somewhere on a computer, a server or the Internet. Many different types of programs use links to enable easy access to updated information, or to keep file sizes manageable. For example, a Microsoft PowerPoint may contain links to multiple videos that can be played during a presentation. The videos themselves are not stored in the PowerPoint file, only the link to the video file is within the file.
Essentially, a file link indicates where the file is located within a network’s web of drives and files. This is how your computer knows where to find the file. When the file is moved, renamed, or its folder is renamed, the file link doesn’t update properly. This is like failing to leave a forwarding address at the post office — now, no one knows where to find the file. While the file may still exist somewhere, as far as the network is concerned, that file is gone, and so is all its data as far as your end users are concerned. This is the stuff complaints (and upset bosses) are made of.
Various types of data migrations can result in broken file links, including:
- Upgrading or Adding Hardware: Adding new computer hardware to a system often requires data to be migrated. This often involves moving data files from an old piece of hardware to a newer one. Companies looking to update their current setups to more modern alternatives should pay close attention to this potential problem source.
- Changing Operating Systems: Changing the operating system of an organization’s network, for example from Novell to Windows, often requires migrating data.
- Changing Networks: Many companies may move data in bulk from one network to another, such as from a production network to a Network Attached Storage (NAS) or Storage Area Network (SAN). This is not uncommon for many software companies or businesses working with particularly large quantities of data.
- Movement to New Systems or to the Cloud: Implementing a new system often involves migrating data into that new system. This can include migrating data to a Document Management System (DMS), to a system like Microsoft’s SharePoint, OpenText, or to a Distributed File System (DFS). If your company regularly moves data between systems or is looking to update your system, you could risk breaking your links if you don’t plan ahead.
- Changing Folders: Restructuring, renaming or moving folders is a common enough occurrence for companies of all types and sizes. However, this is also a common source of link breaks. This usually happens when the file link is not updated with the folder name or location. If your company doesn’t have safeguards in place to protect against these link breaks, each renamed or restructured folder could result in chunks of lost data.
- Moving Individual Files or Folders: When someone moves a file or folder, they may not realize that the file links to other files. Therefore, moving that file may inadvertently break the links, causing data in the files to disappear. This is a common problem for companies of all kinds, which is why a safeguard against such occurrences is so crucial.
With the sheer number of potential sources of link breaks, nearly anything can result in lost data. The bigger the change, however, the more data is lost. Unfortunately, most of those broken links aren’t identified until after the data migration or restructure is already competed. This results in missing data, which can result in a variety of problems and costs for companies.
How Broken Links Cost Companies
While broken file links may seem like a simple problem to solve, in reality it takes a great deal of time and money to repair broken data links after migration. “Depending on the extent of the problem, the cost of fixing broken links manually could top $1 million,” said LinkTek’s Executive Vice President Rick Crites. Just a few of the potential costs associated with broken links include:
- Labor: Companies often have to dedicate significant amounts of manpower to the task of finding and fixing every broken link after a data migration (one done without LinkFixer Advanced). Unfortunately, for larger-scale enterprises, the number of broken file links can total in the millions. This can result in thousands of hours of labor. When you take payroll into account, that can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars spent solely on fixing links.
- Noncompliance: Many regulatory organizations closely watch companies to monitor their compliance with existing regulations. Most of these regulations have to do with an organization’s data security. When there are broken links, the resulting data loss can be enough to raise a few regulatory flags. This is especially true if the lost data is particularly sensitive information, such as customer data or trade secrets. If the loss is serious enough, regulatory organizations may strip a company of their compliance certifications, which can in turn hurt a company’s reputation and future business prospects until they regain their certification, costing the company thousands of dollars in lost business. (This applies to any type of organization, such as government agencies and non-profits.)
- Reporting Problems: Missing sales and financial data can pose a serious problem for companies. If broken file links mean a business cannot find or access their past sales data, purchasing records or other information, it can severely impact the financial health of their business for years to come. Accounting reports, progress reports and others may present false information, resulting in miscalculations and losses. Such losses can often cripple businesses, or even result in companies filing for bankruptcy, if the problem is extensive enough.
- Lost Productivity: Finally, all the insanity associated with link breaks can cost your company dearly in productivity. Between the people rededicated to finding and fixing links and the missing data itself, employees working on day-to-day company functions may find themselves severely limited in what they can do. Missing data may prevent them from helping customers appropriately and busy IT employees may be unavailable to help them if their computers stop working. Additionally, if the data loss impacts customers, employees may end up stuck answering hundreds of calls from frustrated customers wondering what happened to their information at the user level. All of this can contribute to severely limited productivity and slowed progress, which can cost your business in lost profits and wasted labor.
Fortunately, all these costs can be minimized by preserving file links before undergoing a data migration or major data restructure. That’s where LinkFixer Advanced comes in.
How LinkFixer Advanced Works
Despite the fact that many businesses spend millions migrating data to new systems, most fail to work immediately upon startup. This is most often due to issues in the migration process, resulting in improperly prepared or validated data. One way to ensure data survives the migration process is to protect the data against broken file links with appropriate software like LinkTek’s LinkFixer Advanced.
LinkTek’s LinkFixer Advanced offers organizations of all types and sizes a way to protect their data. By managing data migrations by automatically monitoring and fixing links in huge batches, LinkFixer Advanced allows companies to protect a huge number of files at a time. The software consists of a variety of automated functions that work to identify, maintain and repair links, including the following:
- The Inoculate Function: This function protects the company’s links before a data migration occurs, safeguarding them against breakage in the event of a planned move or unexpected system failure. The patented inoculation process does this by creating secondary associations between a parent file and all its child files, reinforcing the existing links. This way, the Inoculate Function sets links up for quick repairs.
- The Cure Function: After file links are inoculated and migrated, the LinkFixer Advanced Cure Function comes into play. This function automatically uses the secondary association created by the Inoculate Function to identify and repair all the links broken during the data migration process. With a few clicks, you can do in a relatively short time span what it would have taken your IT team hundreds or even thousands of hours to fix. In this way, the Cure function helps you cut labor costs and fix links in a fraction of the time it would have taken otherwise.
- The Modify Links Function: If you’re using the LinkFixer Advanced software after you’ve already completed a migration or file system restructuring, it can still help you fix your links, even without the Inoculate and Cure functions. LinkFixer Advanced does this with the Modify Links function. With this function, you can bulk-correct all your links so that they work again and point to the correct files. Using pre-set substitution rules and/or any custom rules you like, Modify Links works fast and can handle thousands or millions of links in one processing run.
- The Move and Rename Function: If you’re looking to move around and restructure your files, LinkFixer Advanced can help with that too. Restructuring and renaming files can result in broken file links as much as a large-scale data migration, so LinkFixer Advanced’s Move/Rename Function can come in handy when it comes to preventing broken links. This function is a batch migration tool that moves and renames files and folders for you in a safe manner, automatically checking to see that the links are properly updated and intact instead of forcing you to double-check. In other words, if you do your migration with the LinkFixer Advanced Move & Rename feature, you can move and rename your files and folders without breaking links in the first place.
- The Reporting Function: LinkFixer Advanced features a powerful reporting tool as well, which you can use to analyze everything from your websites to your work documents. The software uses the information it gathers to create comprehensive reports, listing errors and problems in your files. These reports can help you find any missing or broken links as quickly as possible so you can get LinkFixer Advanced to fix them for you. Reports come in PDF and CSV formats and evaluate links on several levels. The Broken Link Report lists any parent files that contain at least one broken link. The Regular Report lists all your parent files along with the child files each parent file links to. The Cross-Reference Report does the opposite of the Regular Report, listing each child file followed by all the parent files that have one or more links pointing to that child file.
LinkTek’s LinkFixer Advanced software uses each of these functions together to provide a comprehensive link fixing solution. Each function works to help you maintain your database throughout data migrations and restructures, tracking it all automatically while providing you enough reports to keep tabs on everything. Regardless of the file type, LinkFixer Advanced can keep on top of it, supporting most common file types including, but not limited to, Microsoft Office Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint, OneNote and Visio, Windows Shortcuts, Adobe Acrobat, InDesign, Autodesk AutoCAD, Bentley MicroStation and more. Whatever your company uses, LinkFixer Advanced can track and fix it.