Tip: Using Microsoft CRM Import Data Wizard with Alternate Language

Here’s a quick tip if you are trying to import data into CRM that uses a foreign character set and you are getting gibberish. If you save your data from Excel to a .CSV file, it will be saved in ASCII/ANSI format which uses 8-bit encoding.  In simple terms, encoding means mapping characters to numbers.  Everything is stored as a number represented as bits in a computer so text has to get encoded/decoded when you store/display the data. When you import the ASCII data into CRM the imported data will look like gibberish because it is being decoded as a different character set than the source data. The trick to getting around this problem is to save the CSV file in Unicode (32-bit, Universal character set) format before you import it with CRM’s Import Data Wizard.

  • From Excel, choose Save As then save the file as CSV.
  • Open the CSV file in notepad then do a “Save As”
  • In the Save As dialogue, you will see a picklist labelled “Encoding” that defaults to ANSI (8-bit)
  • Change the Encoding to Unicode, change Save as type to “All Files” then click Save

Now you can import the data to CRM and you’ll get the original data instead of gibberish.  Sometimes I’m glad that I’m an old guy with a programming background because I had to learn about character sets, encoding, data types, bits, and bytes.  Understanding the basic fundamentals sure does make troubleshooting easier.

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