Things don’t always go to plan. Sometimes that’s a good thing. However, when protecting your Salesforce org’s data and metadata, you don’t want surprises! In this post, I’ll cover tips for backups and restoration. This will help you assess your org’s readiness and options available.
Why Backup and Restoration Matters?
A good (non-Salesforce) example is Toy Story 2.
Back in 1998, the film was nearly ready to be released. It was then accidentally deleted and backups failed.
By chance, the movie’s Technical Director, Galyn Susman, had a copy of the movie at home, due to spending time with her newborn. This was used to recover the film! Check out this video to learn more.
Whilst the film was later updated to improve quality, this story shows the importance of backup and restoration. You don’t want to be pulling a face like Woody if something happens to your data or metadata!
Backup and Restoration
So, what is backup and restoration?
- Backup: Securely stored copy (or copies) of data and/or metadata. Use these to help you recover from an unexpected event. For example, a cyberattack, database failure, integration or human error, malicious use etc.
- Restoration: A replicable and controlled process; utilising backups to recover from an unexpected event.
Data vs Metadata
Before we look at the options, you must understand the difference between data and metadata.
It is tempting to focus on data. That said, do not neglect metadata. A good example of this is ‘Permageddon’ from 2019. Maintenance by Salesforce accidentally resulted in Profile corruption in affected orgs. If you did not have a backup, it meant manual remedial work. More information on this here.
Errors caused by Salesforce are exceptionally rare. Nonetheless, you must safeguard your metadata when making customisations to the platform. Remember, all change entails some risk; mitigate this where you can.
What are your Options?
Here are some of the main choices you may wish to consider.
Salesforce provides a scalable, secure and flexible platform. That said, as Nick Cavalancia (TechTarget) suggests, you need to be mindful of the ‘Shared Responsibility Model‘. Salesforce provides tools, but it is your responsibility to have a suitable backup. Here are some of the on-platform options.
Data recovery Service
Reintroduced in 2021, Salesforce offers a Data Recovery Service. However, it is not an option you would explore lightly. It is expensive (at the time of writing, $10,000) and takes 6-8 weeks to complete. This should not be considered as part of a standard backup and recovery process.
Data Loader and Data Export Service
The two main ‘out-of-the-box’ options are:
- Data Loader. manually or automatically (via the Command Line Interface) export data
- Data Export Service. Generates .zip files to export. Depending on edition, this can be weekly or monthly. Each file typically contains up to 512MB of data. If you have a large org, this can be a lot of .zip files!
Backup and Restore
Salesforce has a fairly new add-on product called ‘Backup and Restore’. If you are looking for a backup solution, it is worth considering. The main benefit is that it is Salesforce owned and within the same trust framework as your org.
The options above do not currently cater for metadata. This will likely change for Backup and Restore. Nonetheless, you may wish to consider:
- Sandboxes. A basic approach. If you wish to backup your metadata (e.g. prior to deploying into Production), you can create/refresh a sandbox. Bear in mind you will need to consider the refresh interval and your restoration process. Overall, this is unlikely to be a desirable long-term solution.
- Unmanaged Package. You can create an unmanaged package and restore to a sandbox at a later date. You will then need to have a method to restore your metadata.
- SFDX – Version Control and Continuous Integration. If you are familiar with version control and the metadata API, you are more likely to use tools such as SFDX. You can retrieve your desired metadata and store locally, or in a GIT repository. When ready, push changes back to your target environment. Check out this article for more info.
Third-party Backup and Restoration products
There are a number of great backup and restore products available. Many of these (but not all) are on the the AppExchange! If you are unfamiliar with the AppExchange, check out this post.
In alphabetical order, here are some to consider.
- ArchiveOnCloud: Backup and recovery solution with three tiers of licensing. Billed monthly or annually.
- AutoRABIT: DevOps solution, with customisable licensing. Backup & Recovery is part of the ‘Vault’.
- AvePoint: Solutions for Salesforce, Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 & Google Workspaces.
- AppExchange Listing. Recently listed; no reviews*
- CloudAlly: Backup and Recovery solutions for Salesforce, Microsoft 365, Sharepoint and others.
- AppExchange Listing. Listed 17/08/2011. Rated: 4.6/5 (11 reviews)*
- Druva (sfApex): Druva purchased sfApex in 2020; incorporating into its Data Resilience Cloud offering
- AppExchange Listing. Listed 01/06/2019. Rated 5/5 (1 review)*
- Gearset: DevOps solution, with flexible licensing. Backup & Recovery is part of the ‘Backup’ solution
- Grax: Data Lifecycle Management solution with multiple offerings. Deploy where desired (e.g. AWS)
- AppExchange Listing. Listed 03/08/2020. Rated 5/5 (32 reviews)*.
- Odaseva: Data Lifecycle management solution. Licensing options tailored to suit business needs
- AppExchange Listing (Enterprise product). Listed 03/12/2013. Rated: 5/5 (79 reviews)*
- AppExchange Listing (Free product – DailyExport.io): Listed 03/10/2020. Rated: 4.8/5 (8 reviews)*
- OwnBackup: Backup and Recovery solution for Salesforce & Dynamics 365.
- AppExchange Listing. Listed 04/06/2012. Rated: 5/5 (466 reviews)*
- Spanning: Backup and Recovery solution for Salesforce, Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace
- AppExchange Listing. Listed 20/03/2014. Rated 4.7/5 (66 reviews)*
This list is not exhaustive, but should give you some ideas. If you have other solutions you want to recommend, be sure to leave a comment!
Internal Data Warehouse
Your business may have (or seek to implement) a data warehouse. A data warehouse is a structured repository of data, ingesting data from a source system (e.g. Salesforce).
Depending on how this has been setup (frequency and retention), this may provide a backup. Nonetheless, remember that a backup is not the same as a recovery process. Moreover, such solutions typically focus on data, rather than metadata.
Things to consider
There are many things to consider when looking into a backup solution. The following flipchart provides some ideas. Engage stakeholders within your business early. Identify factors which matter to your business and benchmark any solution against these. This will help ensure you pick the right approach for your use case.
Is Backup and Restoration for Salesforce worth it?
The answer depends on your business’s risk appetite. Your usage of Salesforce can also influence this. That said, think carefully. If something happened to your org’s data or metadata, how impactful would it be? Bear in mind, impacts vary:
- Operational Impact
- Financial Impact
- Reputational Impact
For these reasons, I believe having a robust backup and recovery solution is prudent. Moreover, third-party tools often have capabilities beyond just ‘backup and restoration’. For example, detecting and alerting you to issues, aiding comparison and analysis. This helps you understand the issue and resolve concerns quickly.
Backup and restoration are key processes for any system. In Salesforce, we are fortunate to have many options available. This post has shown some of the options and factors to consider when picking a tool. Engage your stakeholders in this process and ensure any solution chosen meets your business’s needs now, and in future.
Thank you for reading – until next time! 🐧
Bonus Penguin Fact
Penguins spend a significant amount of time in the ocean. They also predate fish, consuming salt in the process. However, as in humans, too much salt can harm a penguin. To maintain a healthy level of salt, Penguins have a Supraorbital gland, located just above the eye socket. This helps to remove salt from a Penguin’s bloodstream. Check out this video for more info!
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