Sometimes (usually on a Monday) you're going about your business and find out that your platforms or software aren't playing nice together. Then, you get an error message about something that you've never heard of before. The UTF-8 error you receive when trying to bulk upload users is one such error. If you're seeing that error, this article is meant to make your day better.
This tip of the week helps you resolve the following error received by email when attempting to bulk upload users:
“For some reason the data to import was not ready in our servers. Try again.
We've been notified about this and will solve the problem if there's a bug.
If the error persists, please contact our customer service team. The error was:
invalid byte sequence in UTF-8”
Why you received the error
You receive this error when the file you are attempting to upload is not in a UTF-8 format. UTF-8 is the dominant character encoding for the World Wide Web.
This error occurs because the software you are using (Microsoft Excel, for example) saves the file in a different type of encoding, such as ISO-8859, instead of UTF-8.
How to resolve the issue and upload your file
There are a few solutions you can use to change your file to UTF-8 encoding.
Use Google Drive
If you have a Gmail account or have used Google Drive previously, you can:
- Open up Google Drive.
- Create a new Google Sheets document.
- In the new Google Sheets document, import your CSV file.
- Once you import your file, you can click on File>Download As>Comma-Separated Values to save the file to your computer.
- The file should now be in UTF-8 encoding, and it will successfully upload.
If you’re using the Windows operating system and you have Notepad, you should be able to perform these steps to open your Excel file in Notepad and change the encoding:
- Open the .xlsx file in MS Excel, then click File > Save As (Other Formats).
- Enter any name for the file, then select "Unicode Text (.txt)" for "Save as type".
- Click Save.
- Open the unicode text file using Microsoft Notepad.
Some characters will appear as a box. This is because Notepad cannot display some unicode characters. You can ignore these characters for now.
- Replace tabs with commas (",”) so that the .xlsx file is tab delimited and in proper comma separated value (CSV) format.
- Select a tab character by dragging the character between two column headers and pressing CTRL+C.
- Use the Replace function (CTRL+H) to replace all tab characters with commas.
- In Notepad, Click Save As .
- Enter a filename and change Encoding to "UTF-8".
- Add .csv at the end of the file name to change the file extension from ".txt" to ".csv".
- Click Save.
The file icon should be changed to MS Excel now.
- Open the CSV file from Excel and verify the data.
(Even if you find a problem, do not save the file in Excel. It will cause the encoding problem again. Just check the data only in Excel. If you see a data problem at this stage, fix the data from the original spreadsheet and repeat the steps again. You can also change the file from Notepad but make sure ensure to save the file as UTF-8 format.)
- Now it's ready. You can use this CSV file for importing.
Try to change the encoding in your software
If you use another program, you might be able to manually change the encoding it uses when saving a file. You might need to check the company's documentation for steps to change the encoding or make an inquiry to their customer service team.
Phone a friend
Google Drive is a becoming more common for folks to have. If you don’t have it, there’s a good chance someone you work with will. You might want to see if they can help you perform the Google Drive workaround from above.
What to do if you continue to receive the error
If you’re still having difficulty with the format, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org . We’ll be happy to look in to it further.