Content Migration: Automatic or Manual?


Content migration is one of the critical steps when you decide to update your website. Updating the website can occur for various reasons. You might be upgrading to a newer version of the existent platform or shifting to a new CMS like migrating from Ektron to Episerver. No matter which option you are exploring, in order to get your website launched conveniently, you will need to know the stages involved and scope of the content migration venture.

Migrating the content can either be done using automatic or manual method. Listed below are the pros and cons of both the methods.


Automatic Content Migration

In this method, you will use pre-built tool or developer’s script for moving the content. There are two ways to do this:

  • Software: Many software available for content migration like Siteport and Kapow, uses a custom API layer which moves the data comfortably. You will need to configure how you want the content to be translated from current CMS to the new one.
  • Developers’ Script: A developer will build a script which will migrate the content from current CMS to the new one through API.


Every automatic migration process is divided into three stages: extraction, transformation and loading. The data is extracted from one source and then transformed into a format which can sync with the destination. Following this, the data is loaded into the new platform. You can tag the maps and map the URLs post-migration.


  1. Works great for websites with huge quantity of content (over 1,000 pages); and
  2. Is faster than manual migration (over 100 pages can be migrated in an hour).


  1. Certain content may not get scripted because of different architectures of the platforms
  2. You will need to go through troubleshooting to resolve any issues with the broken links, content formatting and others
  3. Leasing migration tools and creating customized scripts can be a costly affair
  4. You will need a technical staff member to check the migration
  5. Quite a lot of configuration will have to be done with both the options for proper content migration to take place.


Manual Content Migration

In this method, a company team is allotted to copy-and-paste site content from one platform to the other. They will have to manually upload the images and update the navigational links.



  1. The team will have complete control of the content. They can review the content through the process
  2. Since every element of your content will be shifted under your supervision, they can be placed at the right location and linked properly in the navigation menus in the Information Architecture (IA)
  3. You can also easily rewrite and redesign your content when you use manual migration
  4. Manual migration is a great tool to train your content editors about functionality of the website



  1. Manual migration is humanly impossible for websites which have large quantities of content (over 1,000 pages)
  2. Since the work is not done by a machine, there is always possibility for errors and you will need to put in extra effort and time for testing and verifying the content
  3. Human resources are expensive. A large amount of work-hours would have to be diverted from the human resource to the content migration project.


What is best for your company?

The choice you make will hugely depend on the complexity of your website, the amount of pages and their design. The best option would be to automate the migration of some pages and sections while others can be migrated manually.

Some tasks that can definitely be left to automation: translation into valid XHTML, removing extra page info, handling links in between content, positioning content according to rules, automated tagging, shifting to a new DB scheme and alterations for using new CSS.

Here are certain sections which you should definitely handle manually: editorial changes, site behavior, content scheme, management of products and training.

Have a great CMS migration!

Author : Sahana Rajan Date : 12 Sep 2016