How to better manage your IMPORTRANGE connections?

We deal with a lot of data in our daily lives and usually manage it with spreadsheet applications such as Google Sheets. It makes sense to use a separate spreadsheet for each individual purpose. For one thing, we can’t store everything in one file, and for another, doing so helps us manage our data better. 

However, we’ll come across scenarios where we may need to transfer information from other files. For example, we may need to bring in the sales data of a region into the overall sales report. Let’s explore the best ways to manage big piles of data.

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Using the IMPORTRANGE function

Google Sheets has a built-in solution: the IMPORTRANGE formula. It lets us import a range of cells from the specified sheet of another Google Sheets file. While that serves our purpose of transferring the data from another file, it has its own limitations. 

One of the main issues is that it relies on manually typed formulas with parameters like the source URL, sheet name, and range. This can be quite challenging for those who are not very familiar with spreadsheet formulas. Due to its complexity, the formula can be prone to parse errors.

Additionally, there is a risk that the source data may expand beyond the initial cell range that was imported, which can cause outdated data to be displayed. If that happens, we’d be still looking at the old dataset. As a result, the function may not be as dynamic as users would like it to be.

Another challenge is that we cannot use the IMPORTRANGE function to transfer data from multiple sheets all at once. All we can do is use the formula multiple times, each with a different sheet name and range specified.

Data validation Google Sheets featured image

Let’s extrapolate this a little further. Consider an organization that has multiple regions from which we need sales figures. We could simply use as many IMPORTRANGE connections as necessary. 

However, imagine the amount of overhead this would entail given the dynamic nature of the source data sets. Analyzing any fallout would become very challenging because we wouldn’t have a means to visualize the data flow. 

Another limitation is that IMPORTRANGE is not compatible with other spreadsheet application files (such as .xlsx or .xls) stored within Google Drive.

Last, but not least, keep in mind that it also doesn’t retain formatting when importing data from other sheets. When you import data using this function, it will only bring in the raw values and will not retain any of the formatting. Therefore, if you want to make your data look just like it is in the original spreadsheet, you will need to format it again in the destination file.

Connect, merge, filter or split your spreadsheets

A better alternative to IMPORTRANGE – Sheetgo

Sheetgo is a tool for Google Sheets that is designed to take the connectivity of spreadsheets to another level. Sheetgo lets us easily import, export, merge, append and filter data from one spreadsheet to another. We can even configure our Google Sheets to transfer data with predefined conditions and filters. Not just that, it also lets us define the frequency with which these automatic data transfers happen – hourly, daily, weekly or monthly.

Unlike the IMPORTRANGE formula, Sheetgo is a highly intuitive tool, so we inherently know what we are doing. It visually guides us at every step of the way, and we get to decide upon the connection parameters on the fly. The challenge we discussed above can easily be accomplished with Sheetgo. 

In fact, there are many advantages of using Sheeto to transfer data between spreadsheets.

  1. With Sheetgo, we can connect spreadsheets and transfer data between them automatically. It’s much simpler than using the IMPORTRANGE function. You don’t need to know complicated formulas or functions. All you need is a few clicks to create the workflow, and you’re good to go.
  2. It’s less prone to errors. With IMPORTRANGE, you may encounter a lot of parse errors when typing in the formula. As a result, you may need to spend a lot of time fixing the formula.
  3. Using the IMPORTRANGE function requires you to grant access to the source spreadsheet. When you create a workflow with Sheetgo, you can keep the source spreadsheet private and only give access to the destination files.
  4. Another advantage is that you can retain formatting. When you use IMPORTRANGE, the formatting of the source spreadsheet doesn’t transfer to the destination file. With Sheetgo, you can transfer formatting, which makes it easier to read and analyze the destination spreadsheet.
  5. Using Sheetgo, your workflow can be scheduled to update automatically. Therefore, you can set it up to import your data at regular intervals.

How to better manage your IMPORTRANGE connections

And here’s the best part about creating the connections between Google Sheets files with Sheetgo. We can visualize all the connections and workflows we have created. Sheetgo demonstrates these connections visually – where we can easily see how the files are interconnected with each other. 

This ensures a better overview of your data connections and a strong dynamic that allows you to change large amounts of spreadsheets by manually changing just one. You can read more about visualizing your workflow in the following blog post.

Example: Visual interpretation of your Workflow connections with Sheetgo’s Network View

Importrange: Network View of Workflow Connections

If you want to know more about how to manage your connections in a spreadsheet-based Workflow, try out Sheetgo by clicking the button below.

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