Admins / Developers

Demystifying Metadata Backup

By Eric Krusi

By tailoring your Salesforce org to meet your company’s unique needs, you can take your implementation from good to great. This customization is possible by utilizing the platform’s metadata.

Metadata is the backbone of your Salesforce org, allowing you to control how your org performs key business processes, important permissions, and security settings. While most Salesforce backup providers protect data like valuable customer information, do you know if your backup provider also protects and restores this crucial metadata?

In this post, we’ll review what metadata is, why it’s essential for business continuity, and how valuable a comprehensive backup and recovery solution can be.

Looking for a full overview of Salesforce backup and recovery? Check out this comprehensive guide.

Salesforce Metadata: A Quick Overview

People often confuse data and metadata because they work in tandem. In fact, metadata is often defined as “the data that describes other data.” While data is simply business information (such as your customer’s name or company), “metadata” is what makes this information meaningful (such as who it was created by and when it was last updated).

Metadata is also the structure and architecture of your company’s Salesforce org, such as the reports, permission sets, objects, page layouts, workflows, settings, and configurations that make the platform beneficial to your organization.

You could compare it to a house and its foundations. The house itself may have certain protections in place (an alarm, fence, locked windows, etc.), but what about protecting the foundations? When disasters occur below ground level, who do you call? 

There are many native types of metadata, such as fields or file types. You can also create custom metadata types, which let you tailor your Salesforce org to meet your organization-specific needs and track unique aspects of your company’s industry. For example, if your customers face General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), you could add fields to identify their data protection, encryption, transmission, and storage requirements that are subject to the laws within the nation it is collected.

READ MORE: What Is Salesforce Metadata? A Beginner’s Guide

4 Risks of Not Backing Up Your Metadata

While it’s critical to back up your information in the event of a data incident, it’s important to remember that most data loss isn’t the result of freak accidents, natural disasters, or technical glitches; instead, it’s often caused by human error. Examples include accidentally deleting essential security settings or a developer releasing a bad code – this can happen to anyone but could be extremely detrimental to your Salesforce org.

These mistakes can have the following negative impacts:

1. Diminished Value

If you were to lose your metadata, particularly custom metadata, you would lose what makes Salesforce work for you as a company. You may be able to recover your records, but not necessarily the meaning behind them and the insights as to why your strategy was so successful. This causes the CRM to lose value.

2. Business Disruptions

Let’s say that your organization tracks all work (from proposal to project close) in Salesforce. You may even have built a custom project management application on the platform. If you were to lose this data (and were not able to recover it), it wouldn’t just cause downtime; it could be impactful to your bottom line and threaten business continuity.

3. Security Risks

Metadata loss can also put your Salesforce org and its data at risk of a cyberattack or other threats. If you built your security on permission sets that are not restorable, your org could be vulnerable to outside threats and intruders while your developers work to rebuild your security through custom metadata.

4. Relationship Damage

Losing this critical metadata could jeopardize your relationship with your customer. Because metadata powers your business processes in Salesforce (like triggers and email alerts), altering or losing your metadata would cause you to lose these as well. Without these key touch points and automatic business processes, your customer relationships could be tarnished.

Your developers have spent time and energy building your Salesforce org to ensure it adds as much value to your company as possible – don’t throw it all away by forgoing metadata backup and recovery.

Comprehensive Metadata Backup and Restore is a Must

Comprehensive metadata backup and restore means that every type of metadata (from fields and page layouts to triggers and permissions) is backed up and restorable – both in and out of place. While in-place restores are essential for avoiding downtime after a data incident, out-of-place restores can be invaluable for creating accurate staging, which could potentially prevent oversights or accidental deletions.

Out-of-place restores mitigate the effects of user error because they enable you to create exact replicas of your org as test environments or sandboxes. For example, out-of-place restores allow you to create the most accurate sandbox possible to test your workflows, triggers, and events exactly the way they would work in production.

In addition, AvePoint Cloud Backup for Salesforce provides a combination of automatic daily backups, on-demand backups, and comprehensive restore capabilities (at the organization, object, record, and field levels) to keep your business moving forward. The solution is 100% cloud-hosted, which means there is no installation or configuration necessary.

Final Thoughts

If you lose metadata, your Salesforce org will start at square one – as if you are installing the CRM for the first time. It will take your developers weeks or even months to properly configure it to the customizations your team is accustomed to, which will cost time, money, and potentially relationships.

Even if you’ve partnered with a third-party vendor, they may not provide comprehensive metadata backup. Be sure to ask if they back up all types of metadata and if it is restorable both in and out of place. Remember, protecting your business-critical information means investing in a backup solution that does more than simply back up data.

The Author

Eric Krusi

Eric is a Senior Solutions Engineer at Avepoint.


    June 22, 2022 7:07 pm
    You also need to consider data that is essentially metadata. Some managed packages store configuration as data in objects rather than metadata. Examples are Vlocity, now a core part of Salesforce Industries, nCino the banking platform ISV, and CPQ (Configure Price Quote). These need to be backed up and be able to be restored with metadata.
    chris pearson
    June 23, 2022 5:59 pm
    Agree - would love a follow-up blog on data back-up solutions and a pro/con list.

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