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Export / Import

dbFront includes the ability to export your dbFront settings, basic schema and data from any database/version and then convert and import into any other database/version.

Export Options

dbFront - Export Options

The database export functionality is found under the Advanced Database Menu.  Clicking on Export brings up a simple dialog that requires the selection of a database to export.  Once a database is selected then other options will appear.

  • Tables (default ALL): By default, all tables are included in the export.  You can optionally override this setting and backup only a select few tables.
  • Backup Data: If checked then the data will also be included in the backup.  Checking this option will also display the Backup Options.
  • Obfuscate (default NONE):  If the data is included in the backup then you can optionally specify tables that should be obfuscated.  See: Obfuscating Data

The export file stores the basic database schema, dbFront configuration and optionally the data but does not cover schema objects such as Views, Triggers or Stored Procedures.

The default destination for the export file is C:\Data\dbFront\Export\

Import Options

dbFront - Export Options

The database import functionality is found under the Advanced Database Menu.  Clicking on Import brings up a simple dialog that requires the selection of a destination database and the export file.

dbFront will look for the export files in the folder C:\Data\dbFront\Export\

  • Apply Config: Apply the configuration after creating the structure and importing the data.
  • Skip Database Identifiers: When import into a completely different database then you might not want database-specific properties overwritten.   This option allows you to retain the [CaptionDescriptionLogoFileGroupTheme and CSSFile] of the destination database.
  • Import Data: Import any data found in the export file.                
  • Skip Missing Objects: If checked, then dbFront will ignore missing fields, tables and relationships during the import.  Otherwise, dbFront will generate the SQL for the missing objects and expect their creation before the import will proceed.

Obfuscating Data

Sometimes it is necessary to make an obfuscated copy of the data available to another department or external 3rd party to help debug issues.

The dbFront export functionality is able to obfuscate select tables without destroying the data integrity.  This permits the safe export and import of protected data.

All fields in the selected tables are obfuscated except key fields (Primary & Foreign Keys, and Unique Indexes).

The obfuscation process:

  • Overwrites all alphanumeric characters with a random character of the matching type. Uppercase, Lowercase and Digits are handled separately,
  • Replaces vowels with consonants to avoid creating real words,
  • Overwrites all numeric digits,
  • Shifts dates randomly +/- 90 days,
  • Randomizes boolean values,
  • Discards all BLOB values.

The intention is to create "valid" data that retains the original structure and characteristics but in which all identifiable information has been overwritten. The original length of all values is intentionally retained.

WARNING: Please scan the data before handing it to a 3rd party. It is possible that key fields or unique indexes might prevent the obfuscation of specific columns. It may be necessary to strip unique indexes before the export or perform other transformations on the data to complete the process.

Export / Import Uses

Migrating Settings into Production

The primary purpose of the Export / Import functionality is to migrate the dbFront configuration from one environment to another.  This could be used to migrate Development settings into Test or Production.

  • Before migrating the settings you should first migrate the database structure changes.  dbFront has a basic ability to detect and recreate missing database structures, but it is best to use your server-specific tools to migrate the database structure changes.
  • When migrating the dbFront configuration be sure to exclude the exporting or importing of data.

Data Conversion

Sometimes it is necessary to migrate your database setup, structure, and data to a different server type or role.   For example: Oracle Database to a SQL Server database, or a SQL Server database to a MySQL database.  Any combination will work.

The Export / Import will give you instructions for creating any missing structures after which it will load the data and settings.  Note: dbFront will only recreate database structures that it directly uses such as:

  • Tables that it has access to,
  • Columns and Types,
  • Relationships


It is possible to use the export process as a database-agnostic backup for smaller databases but it will be slower than a regular database backup and it won't contain important database schema objects such as Views, Triggers or Stored Procedures.

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