How to Migrate Record Links Data When Upgrading from Dynamics NAV On-Prem to SaaS

By Anna Kroitzsch | March 7, 2023

If you are a Dynamics NAV user, you have likely noticed by now that Microsoft does not support record links migration when upgrading to Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS.

That's because the links are related to user IDs, and some of those links may be unreachable depending on where linked files are stored in the client environment.

Record Links Data from Dynamics NAV Data isnt migrated

Using a configuration package to move the data over is not an option because you cannot select System Tables through it.

We recently completed a cloud migration for one of our clients and had to develop a custom process to migrate Record Links. We will be sharing our approach in this post. Some processes, such as filtering, may be specific to our client data. If you want to apply this to your environment, you might need to modify some parts based on your client's needs.

How to Run the Record Links Migration Process

There are two types of data stored in Record Link: Notes and Links.

Record Links Data from Dynamics NAV Process

Notes store text data - typically internal company notes - while Links store paths to client files, which may be located on your client's desktop, D: drive, a network drive, or somewhere else. In the case of our client, we handled migration for each of the two types of Record Links separately.

Let's take a look at each type.

Record Links Data from Dynamics NAV - Notes

We started by creating a custom table to store only Notes. This table is a copy of the stock Record Links table, along with a couple of new fields.

Record Links Data from Dynamics NAV Notes custom table

We created a processing report to import Notes from the stock Record Links table into the custom table, and then exported it back to the Record Link table after migration to the cloud. Note that filters in a report are specific to your data and you can select your own filters.

Record Links Data from Dynamics NAV Table filters

As you can see, the report request page has two checkboxes where you can select what part of the process to initiate.

Record Links Data from Dynamics NAV Report request page

The code below populates data into a custom Record Link table when you select the "Copy Record Links from NAV" checkbox.

Record Links Data from Dynamics NAV Populate data code 2

The next piece of code exports data from the custom Record Link table into the stock Record Link table. You need to run this after you have migrated your data to the cloud. Make sure to follow your usual upgrade routine for custom tables, whether it is an upgrade codeunits or another process you are comfortable with.

Record Links Data from Dynamics NAV export data code 1

Record Links Data from Dynamics NAV - Links

Now that we've gone through Notes, we can now analyze data migration for the Links.

It's good practice to store Links (i.e., any client files) in one location on a client VM, like a centralized file share for all users. In our situation, our client was following this best practice.

We converted linked documents into document attachments. Since Dynamics 365 Business Central 14 is a part of the upgrade path - and has Document Attachments logic available - our plan was to temporarily store client documents in a BLOB field on Record Link table. Then we copied those fields into the Document Attachments table during the Business Central 14 upgrade step.

Record Links Data from Dynamics NAV Convert to document attachments

We added three new fields to the Record Link table to help with record filtering and file storage. Note that moving the files into the new BLOB field will increase the database size. Our client had a lot of data and agreed to bring only files for the last five years since the database size was a concern going into cloud migration.

We created a codeunit to handle file conversion into BLOB and to help copy files to attachments during BC14 upgrade step.

In order for this to work, you need to run the CopyFileToBlob function on your client VM. Doing so will convert files to BLOBs and mark all the Record Link records for which files were successfully converted.

Record Links Data from Dynamics NAV Copy files to BLOB

Below are the variables we used:

Record Links Data from Dynamics NAV Copy files to BLOB variables

As you can see, we experienced some challenges getting access to files on the network drive and had to relocate those to the C: drive that Dynamics NAV could access successfully.

If your client has VM files all over the pace, and NAV cannot access those, the best approach to alleviate this would be to minimize the number of files you move to your SaaS. You will probably have to write more custom code that can handle a scenario like that.

The next step is to convert BLOB fields into Document Attachments during the BC14 upgrade by running the CopyBlobToAttachment function. (Remember to comment out CopyFileToBlob and uncomment CopyBlobToAttachment).

Record Links Data from Dynamics NAV Copy BLOB to attachment code

Below are the variables we used:

Record Links Data from Dynamics NAV Links variables

We encountered file name conflicts and simply renamed the files to have a '_2' at the end of the file name. That worked as planned and allowed us to create the file attachments successfully. After verifying the data, we deleted the custom fields from the Record Link table and continued with the upgrade process.

In summary, we had to be creative and adjust our plans a few times during the Record Links upgrade. The migration ended up working very well and our client received the files they needed to run their business processes.

Want to Learn More About How Stoneridge Can Help You?

As you can see in this blog post, we have an experienced team ready to assist you with this process, other processes related to upgrading, and a ton of additional software solution issues.

Please get in touch with us to learn more!

Co-Author: Marijke Groat

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