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Salsa Blog

How to Screw Up Data Imports (and Handy Tips on How to Fix it When You Do)

by Akash Jayaprakash, Learning and Training Associate, Salsa

Last week, Salsa offered the latest entry in the "Ur Doin it Wrong" webinar series, focusing on all the wild and wonderful ways that a person can mess up importing data into Salsa. We say "a person" because we've never made mistakes like that, and we're sure you haven't either. It was someone else, an intern or a new hire or something. Right? But of course the responsibility to correct the mistakes of others always falls upon us, because we're the smart ones. So to recap last week's webinar, here's a few ways that other people can mess up imports:

  • Attempt to import an Excel file (ignoring the warning in red letters that says DON'T USE EXCEL FOR IMPORTS) without saving it in a different format first
    screenshot | more info
  • Import a file in CSV (comma-separated values) format, but forget to tell Salsa that you're using CSV
    screenshot | more info
  • Import a file in CSV format that happens to have a comma in an unfortunate place
    screenshot | more info
  • Import a file with special characters (Garcí­a, Schröder, etc.) without adjusting the encoding format
    screenshot | more info

We also learned how to take a step back and delete bad import data:

  1. Did the import only create new supporters (i.e. it didn't change existing ones)? Delete all the new data by using the query tool to search for the source file you imported, then bulk delete the new supporters.
  2. Did the import update information for existing supporters with messed up data? Search for records last modified in a specific time period (in this case, the date that you did the import) and export the data to see how bad it is. If it's not too many, correct the data in the exported file and then re-import it, overwriting the bad data in the process. Or if you followed handy tip #2 below, you made a backup export of your list before your big import.

Some other handy tips:

  1. Back up your list before doing a complicated (or large) import. To make a backup, just export all your supporters (with all the associated data fields) to an Excel sheet and save it to your computer. You'll be able to use that backup to fix anything that messes up.
  2. Make a new group and call it "Recent Imports" (or if you import frequently, use a name with a date like "May2012 Import"). Then tell Salsa to put the imported data in that group. If everything goes right, delete or clear the group at the end of the day. (Delete the group, not the supporters who are members of the group!) If anything goes wrong with the imported data, you'll be able to quickly run queries or modifications on the data set because they're all in one group.

Watch for additional entries in the "Ur Doin it Wrong" series soon. And if you find yourself doing something wrong in Salsa (or someone else that you know, since you're never wrong) and want to know how to do it better, please email us at training@salsalabs.com.

Download the slides from this webinar
View more presentations from Salsa Labs.


Topics: Supporter Management Salsa