Migrate data from TFS to VSTS

TFS Database Import Service

The TFS Database Import Service, also known shorthand as the Import Service, provides a high fidelity way to migrate collection databases from Team Foundation Server (TFS) to Visual Studio Team Services (VSTS). It's recommended that you download the migration guide if you're looking to use this service to import your collection(s). The guide serves as a walkthrough of the different steps involved in an import. Providing best practices, checklists, and helpful tips to make your import as easy as possible. The guide should be used in conjunction with the more technical documentation referenced below to successfully import to VSTS.

Supported TFS Versions for Import


It can take up to 2-3 weeks after a new RTW version of TFS is released for import support to come online for that version. It's important to take this into consideration when choosing to upgrade shortly after a new RTW TFS release.

The TFS Database Import Service supports the two latest releases of TFS at a given time. Releases include updates and major releases. Currently the following versions of TFS are supported for import:


Support for imports from TFS 2018 Update 1 will no longer be supported as of Wednesday, September 5th. All migrations from this version of TFS will needed to be completed before that date or you will need to upgrade your collection to the next supported version.

  • TFS 2018 Update 1
  • TFS 2018 Update 2


The Import Service doesn't support imports from TFS release candidates (RC). If you're planning on importing your collection database to VSTS using this service, it's important that you don't upgrade your production database to an RC release. If you do upgrade, then you will need to wait and upgrade to the release to web (RTW) version when it's available or restore a backup copy of your database from a previous TFS version to import.

Normal release cadence for new TFS versions is once every three-to-four months. Meaning that support for a given version of TFS for migration to VSTS should last for anywhere between six-to-eight months. It's important to ensure that your planning accounts for this support window to avoid having to suddenly upgrade to migrate.

Preview Features


Release Management will be moving out of a preview state in the Import Service on Monday, April 23rd. After that date, Release Management data will always be included with an import. After Monday, April 23rd, if your migration effort hasn’t been completed, then you might need to take some additional actions.

If you’re not including preview features when running TfsMigrator, then you will need to re-run TfsMigrator prepare to generate a new import.json to queue an import. You DO NOT need to include preview features when you re-generate your import.json.

If you had previously been including preview features then you DO NOT need to take any additional actions after Monday, April 23rd.

The following features can be included with your import, but are currently in a preview state.

When queueing an import you can elect to include preview features with your import. If you do, data related to these features will be copied into your new VSTS account along with all your other data. Should you choose to not include these features then their data will not be copied.

For a list of items not included with an import please see the migration guide.

TFS Database Import Service Resources

In general you should use the migration guide when going through an import. When it's required the guide links back to the below documentation. These articles offer deeper technical knowledge on various import topics.

Importing Process



Q: Is there any risk of using the Hosting XML model becoming a problem in future updates of the service?

A: No, when it comes to service updates, Hosted XML accounts are treated the same as accounts using the Inheritance process model.

Q: Will my account be stuck in Hosted XML forever?

A: You are using the Hosted XML because the Inheritance process model does not contain all features yet. We are planning to allow you to migrate from the Hosted XML into the Inheritance process model later this year.

Q: Will migrating from Hosted XML into Inheritance process model be a manual process?

A: No, the plan is to provide a simple and automated experience through the web interface.

Q: What happens in Hosted XML when Microsoft makes a change to a system process?

A: This is the same experience with TFS on-premises. If we make a change to a system process, it will not be applied to any of your Hosted XML processes. You won't have to update your processes if you don't want to. But if you do, you will need to make the changes in the XML definition files manually for each process.

Q: Is there a difference between a team project that was created manually versus one that was created from data import?

A. The features available to each team project are the same. The differences occur in how you modify the processes in your account. When you create an account, you will use the Inheritance process model to customize the work tracking experience. Team projects migrated via data import, however, will use the Hosted XML process model to customize the work tracking experience.

Q: If my account is using Hosted XML, can I create new projects to use the Inheritance process model?

A: Yes. For data import accounts, VSTS supports team projects that use Inheritance as well as Hosted XML process models. To learn more about the Inheritance process, see Manage processes.

Q: Where can I find more information on Hosted XML and the Inheritance process model?

Q: If I have feedback or additional questions is there somewhere I can reach out?

A: Yes, you can contact vstsdataimport@microsoft.com. Please note that this alias is for general questions. If you need assistance with a failed import please contact VSTS\TFS customer support.