CRM 2013 Upgrade Tips – Avoiding Disappearing Lookups and Data Loss

Upgrading Dynamics CRM to the latest and greatest always has some hurdles to overcome and with the new release of Dynamics CRM 2013, things are no different.  Some are expected based on the upgrade validation tool, others may come as a surprise. 

The discussion here could lead to data loss which isn’t something we want to happen.  Here is an overview of the issue:


This scenario is related to an entity that has a look-up to another entity that may not have the “name” for out-of-the-box entities or “new_name” for custom entities filled in.  CRM 2011 allows a look-up to an entity that has the blank name field, but 2013 has put a restriction where it is now required for the relationship to stick.

Dynamics CRM below has the account entity with a look-up to a custom entity “Account Blank Out”.  The custom entity has two fields: field 1 and name.  The name is NOT a required field, but I have included data in the Field 1 just to show the record has some data on it.

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Figure 1: The custom entity “Account Blank Out” record with a blank name.

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Figure 2: An account with the look-up to the account blank out entity records.  Note the blank name.

Once this account record is setup and saved – it is closed out.  When the record is re-opened, the “Blank Account” field reverts back to being blank. 

During the upgrade process this has the same effect.  If there are records coming over from CRM 2011 that have these properties, then the look-up value that transfers over will go away. 

The upgrade from 2011 to 2013 can involve several changes to customizations.  It is as important to understand what else goes on behind the scenes during the upgrade.  Data needs to be a vital part of the consideration for when the upgrade is right for your organization.

To get around this issue it is recommended to create a workflow before the upgrade is done.  The purpose of this workflow will be to create some meaningful data to stick into the name field so when the upgrade does take place this field is filled in on ALL records.

The other option is to contact the CRM Experts (614-889-6555) at Affiliated and we can walk you through the right steps and/or help you with your upgrade.


Brian Ezell, Senior CRM Developer
Brian has more than two years of experience as a developer and implementer of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. As a Senior .NET Developer for Affiliated, his main focus is developing IT solutions for clients. Brian is also an experienced SQL Server DBA and has led a database team with the State of Ohio, Public Safety. He is familiar with all phases of CRM projects from conception to implementation, and understands how to implement technical changes and best practices effectively.
Brian Ezell, Senior CRM Developer

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