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Clean up your unstructured data

Migrating to the cloud from on-premise storage can reduce management costs and give you the flexibility to expand or contract your storage capacities at the touch of a button. The move also makes it easier for teams to cooperate and share information, whether working in the same office or remotely. 

However, much like moving house, there is some heavy lifting involved in the migration process, and you should handle certain items with special care.  

You will have to make sure that petabytes of unstructured content (i.e., files, emails, applications, etc.) are migrated safely to the correct location, and that only the right people have access to the data when it gets there.  

What steps can you take first to make the transition easier? If you are migrating to the cloud, before moving day, make sure you take care of the following tasks. 

DataMapper's data discovery system


First, find out what you have. Your team may be storing company information in a variety of different locations online and on their own computers.

Automated data discovery is the simplest way to do this. Invite the whole team to participate so that all company information can be gathered and mapped. This will give you a clearer understanding of the data you store.  

A good data discovery tool will give you a complete overview of files and documents from all users on a single dashboard. This bird’s eye view of company documents lets you discover sensitive data, including files you may not have known existed. 


Next, identify data that can be excluded from your migration scope, archived, or deleted. Analysts have found that at least 30 percent of the total unstructured data stored by organizations is redundant, obsolete, or trivial (ROT).  

All that unnecessary data costs money to store and protect, slows down your processing speeds, and may expose you to a greater risk of data leaks and privacy regulation violations.  If you are migrating to cloud storage, now is the time to identify and eliminate any files you don’t need. 

This includes: 

  • Duplicate files, stored in multiple locations
  • Files you have not used in a long time, that you are unlikely to need again
  • Files that are not relevant and have no business or legal value. 


Now that you have eliminated superfluous data, you can turn your attention to information that will continue to be an asset for your company.  

Before you move this valuable data to its new home, you’ll want to make sure to sort and label it. But manually organizing documents scattered across mailboxes, servers, local drives, cloud storage, and USBs is an enormous task with a significant potential for human error. 

Use a data discovery tool to organize your data intuitively based on content and context and tell you each sensitive document’s risk level. Look at what you have, then decide: 

  • How much sensitive data will you be moving? 
  • What controls should you put in place to prevent data leaks? 
  • Which data will take special coordination to migrate?
  • Which department’s data should you migrate first? 


Standardizing formats and making content searchable improves the value of the data you store and makes it easier to access. Consider reducing the volume of unstructured data you store by converting as much of it as possible to a standard, machine-readable format. 

Once you and your team members connect storage locations to DataMapper, all files found will appear on one dashboard. You will be able to preview them, access them in their original location, and export them.

Control access

Sensitive data requires special care. Before moving the data, assign a data owner for each set of critical data. The data owner can make decisions such as who has the right to access and edit data and how it is used. 

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How we can help you

Cloud migration presents its challenges but taking the above steps first can help. Would you like to learn more about how to use DataMapper to discover and map your team’s files? 

Learn more → 

Sebastian Allerelli

Governance, Risk & Compliance Specialist
Follow me on LinkedIn to get tips on GDPR →