General Interest

Importing data overview

Use the Import Data Wizard to import multiple files that contain record types that are related to each other, such as accounts with related contacts. You can compress multiple files of the same file type in a .zip file and then import the one .zip file. This means all the files in the .zip file are only .csv files, only .txt files, only .xml files, or only another another type of file.

There are two key decisions for you to consider before you import data into Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online:

  • Determine if you need a test import

    If the file that you want to import is large, make a small file with just a few records to test the process.

  • Decide whether you need a data map

    To import data, you must determine where each column in your data belongs in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

    Mapping data from your source file to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online is done either automatically or by using a data map that explicitly maps your source columns to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online fields. The following table shows when to use automatic mapping and when to use a data map.

    Use automatic mapping

    Use a data map

    If all your column headings exactly match Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online attribute display names.

    If this is a one-time import, you can also edit the column headings in the source file to match the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online display names so that you don't need to use a data map.

    If you frequently import data from the same source and don't want to repeat the mapping process each time.

    For example, if you have a business-card reader that you use to collect leads at every trade show you attend, you can create a data map for the specific output from your business-card reader.

    If you are importing for the first time and do not have a data map to use. If the files and columns are not mapped automatically, you can map them manually and save this mappings as a new data map to be used later for similar source data.


After you've made these decisions, there are three steps:

  1. Organize your source data. This step includes cleaning your source data by making sure that there is one piece of data in each column, and that there are no extra line-break characters. For more information, see the Help topic Work with Imports.
  2. Map your source data. If you are going to use automatic mapping, edit the column headers in your source data to exactly match the display labels in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. If you are going to use a data map, select an existing one and use the Data Maps area in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online to manually edit the data map or use the Import Data Wizard to create a new data map during import.
  3. Import your data. If there are any errors, correct your source data or your data map. You’ll find the Importing Records - Troubleshooting Help topic and the Import troubleshooting article useful if you have any errors.

For more information about the process of importing data, see Create and complete an import.

The following diagram illustrates the process of importing data.

Import process diagram

Related Links

Applies To:

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online December 2012 Service Update

(For Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 topics, view the new Customer Center.)