In Technology, what does Migration Refer to?

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  • Written By: Mary Elizabeth
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 26 March 2020
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By itself, without context, the word migration is likely to lead to thoughts of butterflies or birds making their yearly journeys from which they will eventually return. In the world of technology, migration is a one-way trip, often one in which one or more people adapt to a new situation and go on. Migration in the world of technology can refer to a variety of changes to hardware, software, and/or storage. It is generally undertaken only after careful study, research, and thought.

Migration happens for a number of reasons. It may simply be time for a company or individual to purchase a new computer and/or peripherals, necessitating a change in the standard operating environment. Migration may be done for a particular worker with specific benefits in mind or a new version of hardware or software with calculable benefits may be released. Data storage may migrate to a new server or to cloud storage. Migration may mean an individual managing his or her own changes, or be enacted and overseen by a dedicated IT department.

When an individual is migrating to a new version of a single piece of software or a software suite, if it is commercial software, there will most likely be a guide to migration in the form of an upgrade manual. The upgrade manual will have step-by-step instructions for each operating system on which the software runs. The software developer may also supply printed or video tutorials for new features.


When migrating to a new computer, the manufacturer is also likely to provide a migration manual. In this case the instructions will include step-by-step guides for moving data and — when applicable — applications. This may be done through a network, by means of a wired connection between the old and new computer, or in other ways, but generally the first step is backing up everything in case any step in the process goes wrong. It is important to follow software manufacturer’s recommendations for applications: they may suggest doing an installation on the new system rather than migrating the earlier installation. There may, however, be steps that will help preserve preferences, bookmarks, favorites, and passwords, as well as the set-up of a network and the online connection.

A network migration at an organization is an important and critical change. It may involve leaving behind old technology, moving to a different operating system, changing software, going from wired to wireless connections, or a combination of these changes happening all at once. It is a move that needs to be carefully planned and timed, because it may require some time to accomplish and leave employees temporarily without access to their customarily accessed resources and data.


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