Salesforce Data Import Wizard vs. Data Loader

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There are many tools available when it comes to importing data into your Salesforce org. The two most common tools are the Data Import Wizard, a tool available within Salesforce Setup, and the Data Loader, an external tool provided by Salesforce that easily connects to your orgs.

The Data Import Wizard and the Data Loader are best used for different scenarios based on multiple factors, from the objects available to the number of records to be imported. This post will provide an overview of both tools, as well as comparing them against each other – so you’ll know which tool to use when!

Data Import Wizard Overview

The Data Import Wizard is an efficient tool that is accessible through Salesforce Setup, so there is no additional configuration needed before using it. The Data Import Wizard is accessed directly from Salesforce via Setup > Integrations > Data Import Wizard.

There are three functions you can carry out with the Data Import Wizard:

  • Insert: This gives you the ability to insert new records into Salesforce.
  • Update: This enables you to make changes to existing records inside Salesforce.
  • Upsert: This combines the above options, updates a record if it already exists, or – if not – inserts it.

The tool can be used to import some standard objects, as well as any custom objects:

  • Leads
  • Solutions
  • Campaign Members
  • Person Accounts (if enabled)
  • Custom Objects

It’s important to note that the Data Import Wizard does not support standard objects such as Opportunities!

Other useful features when using the Data Import Wizard include:

  • Avoid duplicates by selecting matching criteria such as Email or ID.
  • Turn off Workflow Rules and Processes during an import/update/upsert.
  • Assign a Lead Source.
  • Select Lead Assignment Rules.
  • Assign Contacts or Leads to a Campaign.

Speaking of Campaigns, does your marketing team want an easy way to upload a list of customers who have attended an event through a Campaign in Salesforce? If so, you can do this via the Data Import Wizard directly from the Campaign record page.

Data Loader Overview

The Salesforce Data Loader needs to be installed locally to your device for you to use it, and it allows you to connect to any Salesforce org that you have credentials for. The Salesforce Data Loader can be installed by navigating to the Setup menu in Salesforce, and heading to the Data Loader tab. Here you will find download links for both Windows and Mac. Once installed, you’ll open Data Loader and be presented with this screen:

Salesforce Data Loader can interact with your data in many more ways than the Data Import Wizard.

There are seven main functions:

  • Insert: This gives you the ability to insert new records into Salesforce.
  • Update: This enables you to make changes to existing records inside Salesforce.
  • Upsert: This combines the above options, updates a record if it already exists, or – if not – inserts it.
  • Delete: This deletes records and puts them in the recycle bin.
  • Hard Delete: While the delete option stores information in the recycle bin for a limited period, Hard Delete will remove them permanently (and immediately).
  • Export: This exports records from the system into a CSV file.
  • Export All: While Export only extracts ‘live’ records, Export All will remove anything that is in the recycle bin as well as anything that has been archived (some records are archived after a period of time, such as Tasks).

Salesforce Data Loader can be used to work with data from all standard and custom objects.

When using the Data Loader to export data, you must select the object and the fields that you would like to export out of your Salesforce org. A SOQL query is created that you can update to add the Where clause to filter down the data that you are looking to export.

Data Import Wizard vs. Data Loader

The Data Import Wizard and Data Loader have slightly different use cases and considerations – which tool you choose will depend on your requirements and the abilities of each tool.

For example, the Data Import Wizard can only insert up to 50,000 records, so if you are working with more records than that, you will need to use the Data Loader.

The Data Import Wizard only supports certain standard objects and does not support Opportunities, so use the Data Loader when working with Opportunity records.

Summary

The Data Import Wizard and Data Loader are two of several tools available to Salesforce Administrators for importing and manipulating data. Each import method has its own considerations, but you can use a mix of both to solve all of your importing needs.

Check out the following articles if you would like to read more about these data import tools, as well as some handy tips to help you on your way:

2 thoughts on “Salesforce Data Import Wizard vs. Data Loader

  1. Thanks for the breakdown. Still hoping Dataloader.io someday may become the default free data import tool for SFDC, the lookup matching and UX is really nice. Alas, I will continue using dataloader.io until I hit my monthly maximum and then pivot to Data Import Wizard or Data Loader client.

    Side note, shout out to SoqlXplorer as a great query/export tool for SFDC (Mac OS).

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