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Best Practices

Maintaining an Effective Salesforce Backup

Help protect your data integrity by following these best practices for backing up your Salesforce data.

Contributed by Hub member Brad Struss.

What would happen if a new workflow rule or trigger ran amok on your Salesforce data without it being noticed for weeks? Or if a well meaning intern accidentally wreaks havoc while doing data cleanup? Would you be protected?

While Salesforce protects your data against hardware failure or security risks, it offers no protection against user error. And surprisingly, it has been estimated that nearly 75% of data loss is due to user error.

In cases where user error has corrupted your data, Salesforce does offer a restore service, but it is considered a last resort option and costs a minimum of $10K. Because of this, it’s important to take responsibility for backing up your data. One of the most straightforward ways to do this is to create a scheduled export (Go to Setup > Administer > Data Management > Data Export) of your Salesforce data. Once you have done that, here are some tips to make sure you protect your data:

1. Don’t forget to download the exports so that you actually have a backup.

The Salesforce export process only creates a zip file that is stored for 48 hours in Salesforce. Salesforce sends an email when the export is available. The person receiving the email needs to make sure to download the zip file each week. I have been guilty of not doing this so I recognize how easy it is to say “I’ll do it later.”

2. Place the export file in a secure location.

Your Salesforce system presumably has sensitive data that you have spent time setting up profiles and permissions for. Given that, you don’t want to copy the backup zip file (a set of unsecured spreadsheets that contains the Salesforce data) to your laptop or a file server location that the entire staff has access to. We recommend consulting your IT staff or an IT consultant to determine the correct secure location to store your backups.

3. Plan for how many export files you keep at one time.

If you have a bad workflow rule or trigger creating bad data, it may be several weeks or longer before you notice the issue. If you are only saving the most recent export file, you will be out of luck when you try to restore the data. How many backups should you save? It really depends upon your database usage and the impact of a loss. One option would be to save weekly backups for the previous month and save a month end backup for the previous twelve months. Consult with your IT staff or IT consultant to determine how many backups to save.

4. Review your scheduled export whenever you add objects or add applications from the AppExchange.

While you might expect that checking “include all data” would always export all objects, our testing has found that not to be the case. New objects added after scheduling an export are not included in the export. To have these exported, you need to go back into your scheduled export and choose “all objects” again or check those newly added objects.

While having a backup may save your organization from a devastating loss of data, be sure to note that there is no "restore" button that will put your backup data into your Salesforce ORG automatically.  Even if you catch the problem right away, you'll have to restore data object by object using the Data Loader, being careful not to overwrite other changes made since the backup.