Let me start by asking you this: Do you take photos of your family, friends, hobbies, travel or else? Would you be sad if you lost any of them? For my part, I’d be devastated. Therefore, I regularly create backups of any of my photos, whether I’m taking them with my phone or camera.
What does this have to do with Salesforce? A lot! Because the data stored in a live Salesforce Production Org is critical for customer relationship management, business success, legal compliance and so much more.
This means, if any sensitive or business-critical data is lost and not recoverable, it can have a devastating impact. This is particularly relevant when large amounts of data are impacted.
Data can get lost in many different ways. The most common reasons are:
- Salesforce Users overwrite data
- Salesforce Users delete records
- Salesforce Administrator changes field types
- Salesforce Administrator runs data imports
Any of the above can happen by accident or can be deliberate. As the Salesforce Administrator, you have many tools at hand to protect data access, data edits as well as data deletion. However, data loss or data corruption can still happen. In this article, we’ll discuss how you can manage data backups to recover and restore data when required.
Salesforce Data Backup Solutions
Did you know that Salesforce does not automatically create a backup of your Salesforce data? At least not in a way that would allow easy recovery. If you want Salesforce’s help with this process, you will need to install something first, and that’s Salesforce’s Backup and Restore service. It requires quite a few setup steps before it will backup your data and provides a recovery service. Plus, it comes at an additional fee.
Alternatively, you can find backup solutions on AppExchange with a range of highly respected Salesforce Partner Apps that work a charm. Yes, they do come at a cost too. Depending on your Salesforce org’s data capacity, restore process and of course budget, it’s worth checking out these apps. Just search for “backup”:
Meanwhile, what can YOU do already?
While the automated solutions are great, you can already start with the more manual backup solutions Salesforce does provide you with out of the box, included at no additional cost. You can always extend with apps at a later point in time.
These out-of-the-box backup solutions include Report Exports, the Data Export service, and the Data Loader App/Dataloader.io. Let’s go through each to see how and when to use them.
Export Salesforce Data with Reports
Salesforce data is stored on records that belong to various Standard and Custom Objects, such as Accounts, Contacts, Leads, Opportunities, and so on. One of the easiest ways is to create reports for each of these Salesforce Objects and export them into a save place on your company’s server.
PROs: Simple way to create ad-hoc reports relevant for data clean-up processes, before data imports, whenever there’s a limited amount of records involved. Exports to .csv and .xlsx. Can be scheduled for export.
CONs: This is a manual process. You won’t be able to export the entire database. Cannot be used to restore, unless you do a manual re-import under specific considerations.
Export with Data Loader App / Dataloader.io
The Data Loader works similarly to reports in the way that you need to select specific types of records you want to export.
PROs: Automatically stores the export file in a pre-defined location. The export process can be automated using the command line. Exports to .csv, .xlsx and other.
CONs: Requires installation of Data Loader App locally as well as Java Runtime Environment (alternatively use Dataloader.io web service). You need to be familiar with all the above-mentioned tools and processes.
Salesforce Data Export Service
This one is managed right from within your Salesforce Setup menu, no need to install anything. You can choose between weekly or monthly exports (depends on Salesforce Edition). It’s the most comprehensive of the export tools:
PROs: Automatically exports either selected or all data. Can include images, documents, files etc. (Beware file size!)
CONs: Data is only prepared for export. Once the export data is ready, the system will send an email to the Administrator with a link to a .zip file. The zip file is stored within the Salesforce Setup from where it needs to be manually downloaded. And, the .zip file delete’s itself after 48 hours.
The Data Export is really easy to set up and if you can ensure that an Administrator will be around to take care of the .zip file within the 48-hour time frame, then this is certainly a great tool to use.
The out-of-the-box backup solutions do not provide out-of-the-box recovery methods. The recovery process is a rather manual process, including tools like the Recycle Bin and Data (Re)Imports. Depending on the volume of data/records involved, remember to take a look at Salesforce’s Backup and Restore service or solutions on the AppExchange.
All of the above is about Salesforce Data, not Metadata. Metadata are the containers that define the type and location of the data, not the data itself. This includes Field Types, Page Layouts, Reports, Validation Rules, and so on. Therefore, if you need a backup, or better a copy, of the Metadata, that’s what Sandboxes are for.
Salesforce Data Backup is part of our Salesforce Administrator Certification Course. Application Management including Sandboxes is covered in our Salesforce Platform App Builder and Salesforce Advanced Administrator Certification Courses.
Let me know in the comments how you manage data backups and which tool you prefer to use.
We make learning Salesforce simple with our range of well-structured Salesforce Video Tutorials, downloadable Study Workbooks and realistic Practice Exams. Available for Salesforce Administrator, Advanced Administrator, Platform App Builder and more.
All materials are in line with the official Salesforce Certification Exam Outline including regular release updates.