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Importing files to Beacon
Importing files to Beacon

Uploading files in bulk to Beacon with import templates.

Updated over a week ago

Beacon makes it easy for you to attach files manually to records. You can upload these one at a time, but it's also possible to import files in bulk!

In this article:

How it works

  1. In your spreadsheet, you'll need a column containing the file paths for each attachment that you'd like to upload

  2. In your import template, map this column to a file field in your Beacon database. The field must be on the record type of your import, you cannot import files via related record paths.

  3. When running the import template, you'll be prompted to upload a ZIP file which contains these files

  4. When your import runs, Beacon will automatically unzip the files mentioned in the CSV, and upload them to the right place into your database

File paths

Your CSV column should contain file paths relative to where they are in your ZIP file.

Example: the Beacon team

Let's consider a ZIP file with the following files:

To upload these files to Beacon, your CSV file will need to include their relative file paths:

File path formats

Beacon supports Windows, Mac, and Linux file paths by "standardising" them. We'll treat all of these formats as the same:

  • Mac / Linux:

    • team/david.png

    • ./team/david.png

    • team//david.png

    • team/david.png/

  • Windows:

    • team\david.png

    • .\team\david.png

    • team\\david.png

    • team\david.png\

In short - as long as a david.png file exists within a team folder, then any of the above file paths will work just fine.

Absolute file paths (not supported)

Beacon does not support "absolute" file paths. Below are examples of paths that are not supported:

  • /team/david.png

  • C:\\team\\david.png

  • //C://team\\david.png

Tip: If you zip a folder of files, be sure to include the folder in your file path names.

For example, if the import validator has flagged that your file paths are incorrect or files are missing, but you can see that the file names are correct, try adding the parent folder name before the file.

For a file named david.png in your zip file named new_donors, try making the file path new_donors/david.png. Some zip applications add the folder when zipping!

Tips for importing

Create then update

If you need to create records in Beacon as well as attach files to those records it's best to do this as a two step process.

  • Create the records (E.g. activities)

  • Attach files to the records you just created

Import note: You will need some sort of duplication for this process. i.e. An ID for each activity.

Validating files

When running your import, Beacon automatically validates the file paths in your CSV against the files in the ZIP file you've uploaded. We'll flag up any issues - just like with other field types! 😄

Multiple files in the same cell

Have multiple files in the same cell? They must be separated by either semicolons (;), pipes (|), or line breaks.

Note: unlike other fields in Beacon's importer, commas are not a valid separator for files (Lots of file names have commas in!).

ZIP file sizes

Beacon lets you import ZIP files up to 50GB in size 😲. Keep in mind that the bigger your files, the longer your uploads and imports will take.

Also remember that for security, Beacon auto-logs you out after you've been inactive for 1 hour - so you'll need to be at your desk while your big files initially upload, but once the import itself starts it will continue to run in the background.

Multiple columns

Currently, it's not possible Not possible to import multiple columns to the same file field. All files must be in the same cell.

Multiple rows to the same record

If you have multiple rows importing to a single record, Beacon will 'roll-up' these files.


Row A contains Charlie Smith and Charlie's volunteer application
Row B contains Charlie Smith again and this time it's Charlie's DBS certificate.

Beacon will import Charlie Smith once, with both Charlie's volunteer application and DBS certificate attached.

Steps away

Currently, it's only possible to import to file fields on the exact record type you're importing to.

For example, if you were importing people, you can import to the person "Attachments" field, but you can't import to the "Organisation > Attachments" field.

You are also not able to import files if your template has ANY mapping that is a step away. Follow the create and update tip in these scenarios.

For example, if you were importing people, you CAN NOT import to the person "Attachments" field, if your template includes mapping linking a person to an organisation.

"dot" files

Beacon ignores any files starting with a dot (.) - these are internal files.

Other files in the ZIP file

Don't worry if your ZIP file contains files that aren't in your CSV. We automatically delete files that aren't attached to records in Beacon after 14 days (for GDPR reasons).

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