Why Should World Backup Day Matter to Salesforce Admins and Developers?

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March 31st is World Backup Day, launched in 2010 by Ismail Jadun. This is a date for every Salesforce admin and developer to take action and check their backup and restore processes – although Salesforce is secure and is committed to protecting your Salesforce data and metadata, they cannot protect you from sync errors, your own mistakes, or that of your end users. In this post, you’ll learn more about:

  • What Salesforce says about backup
  • The different paths to Salesforce backup and restore
  • What we know about how the Salesforce Ohana protects their data
  • Steps to take now, if you’re at risk

What does Salesforce say about data protection?

Salesforce provides a number of Knowledge Articles on what they recommend regarding data loss and protection – they take this issue seriously, and so should you.

From Knowledge Article 0000213366:

“Even with the best of intentions, users and administrators have been in situations where they have either deleted large amounts of data, or have modified records, only to later realize that a mistake was made. With tools like the data loader, it is very easy to mass delete or update records and a simple mistake in your source file or field mapping could spell disaster for your data. It is recommended that you keep a regular backup of your data and to do a manual point-in-time backup before you proceed with any major data project within your org.
“Just as it is easy for users to accidentally delete records or modify records, it is also easy for administrators or developers (and users with advanced permissions) to make changes to your configuration settings, such as adding or deleting custom fields, modifying page layouts, deleting or changing reports and dashboards, or modifying custom code. As many of these changes are not reversible, it is important to have a copy of your metadata to fall back on in the event that you need to restore prior settings.”

Similar recommendations can also be found in Salesforce Knowledge Articles 000003594 and Knowledge Article 000004037.
It is clear that you are responsible for protecting your org’s data and metadata from common causes of loss, such as data load errors and accidental metadata deletions. And it’s vital to do so – what would happen if a report used every week by your executive team were overwritten in error and saved, rather than “saved as”? What would happen if an error in a mass data load not only overwrote good data with bad at compute speed, but also triggered a recycle bin purge – would you even know what was lost?

How can you protect Salesforce data and metadata with native tools or third-party apps?

There are native tools for data protection available within Salesforce. These include making exports via the Data Loader or from Reports, or using the Export Service, which enables admins to get a download of data in zipped .csv files weekly or monthly. But if your data changes frequently—new Leads or Service Tickets created daily, or Opportunity records updated daily—the Export Service will not capture the changes you need for business continuity. And none of these exports include metadata. (See here re: the Export Service.)

To protect metadata, Salesforce provides some native tools—you can use Change Sets to copy metadata from your production org to a sandbox or developer org, use a Sandbox Refresh to copy over your configuration metadata, or use the Force.com Migration tool and Force.com IDE. Each of these options requires painstaking manual effort, and if your team does not have an experienced developer with time to spare, native tools may not be a good option.

That’s why Salesforce says, “we recommend that you use a partner backup solution that can be found on the AppExchange.” You’ll want to make sure the solution enables the automated restore of metadata as well as data, enables end users to self-restore data they have rights to edit, and supports sandbox seeding. And you’ll want to thoroughly test restore scenarios during your trial, since backup is one thing…but fast, accurate restores are everything.
For more details on native tools, see my blog here. FYI, I’m on the Product Team for Spanning Backup for Salesforce, and I’m also a Salesforce MVP. Let me know how I can help.

How many admins and developers ARE protecting their data today?

The short answer is, “not nearly enough,” according to responses to last year’s Trailblazer Community Survey. If you are already protecting your org’s data (and hopefully metadata), you’re part of a group of leaders in the Trailblazer Community who said they were either using the Export Service or something else to back up their data. But nearly a third of all Trailblazer Community Survey responders are one bad sync or erroneous data load away from permanently losing the data their organization needs.

Your organization runs on its Salesforce data, and your Salesforce metadata has the customizations needed to make it all work. This World Backup Day, isn’t it time to review not just your backup strategy…but your ability to restore your Salesforce data and metadata?

Don’t be an April Fool – back up your Salesforce data and metadata now!

Given the value to your organization of your Salesforce data and metadata, and given that Salesforce says you need to back up both data and metadata, here are some action steps to take this World Backup Day:

  • Review your current backup and restore strategies. If your IT department is responsible for backup, assess whether they will be able to perform restores from those backups. Time actual “test restores” to see how long it might take to recover from data loss.
  • If your current strategies leave your organization vulnerable, lead a team in pursuing better approaches. You may need IT and key business stakeholders’ buy-in, so be prepared to present risk analysis and information about current restore times to get support.
  • Make sure you and your team are up to speed on data security via Trailhead. Do you have badges for Security Basics, Data Security, Privacy and Data Protection Law, and Data Management? Does your team? Take some time over the coming week to complete these badges, and become more familiar with data protection basics.
  • Do what Salesforce recommends, and evaluate third-party solutions on the AppExchange. Even if you’re using some combination of native tools for data and metadata protection, if you ever need to restore after a large loss, I’ve heard from many admins it could days or weeks using native tools. Third-party apps like Spanning Backup for Salesforce can make the process fast and clicks-not-code easy.

Make this World Backup Day, and every day going forward, an investment in the value of your Salesforce org by ensuring all your data and metadata is protected.

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