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I have content items with Droplist field. I want to change this field to Droplink field type.

What is the best solution/practice to change it without losing already existing data?

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You cannot use the existing data directly to go from drop list to droplink as they stored data differently. Droplist has the display name, and droplink has the GUID of the item.

In order to convert, I would usually suggest introducing a new field rather than changing the field, and forcing readonly permissions onto the old Droplist field so that it can be viewed for historical purposes but not changed. This also helps with moving through environments when deploying while you test that everything works.

You could then have an SPE script or similar to fill in the Droplink field with the correct GUID that matches to the existing data in the Droplist field.

When you are happy with everything and all environments are updated, your next release can then hide the old field completely or delete it.

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