A Tale of Two (Salesforce Backup) Cities

Last week, I met with Salesforce User Groups in San Antonio, Texas and Portland, Oregon, learning from each and sharing a better way to backup and restore Salesforce data and metadata. What did I learn? To paraphrase Dickens, it was the best of times for a better backup and restore solution, and the worst of times for admins who rely only on the Salesforce Weekly Export.

The San Antonio User Group met at Phil Hardberger Park, in a space devoted to urban ecology, and the Portland User Group met at NTT Centerstance, in the heart of downtown Portland. Despite the differences in city, climate, and venue, both Salesforce User Groups had two common bonds:

  1. Their members, even those who were MVPs, were surprised to learn that Salesforce recommends admins adopt a third-party AppExchange backup tool like Spanning Backup for Salesforce to protect against data loss from human error, sync malfunctions and hackers.
  2. Everyone I spoke with finds the Weekly Export process annoying at best, and a potential business risk at worst.

In “Myths and Facts About the Weekly Export: What You Don’t Know Might Surprise You” (which you can see below), the information that sparked the most discussion came from the Salesforce Knowledge Base, specifically Knowledge Article Number 000003594 and Knowledge Article Number 000004037. To quote from these sources, “While Salesforce.com backs up all data and can restore data, it’s important to back up and be able to restore your own salesforce.com data. … [W]e recommend that you use a partner backup solution that can be found on the AppExchange…”

If you are a Salesforce administrator or just help manage your organization’s instance of Salesforce, don’t wait until you lose data. Be proactive, and follow Salesforce’s recommendation.

Here are some Salesforce data backup best practices I’ve learned from Salesforce community members and reviews on AppExchange:

  • Look for backup solutions that are “in-app” for greatest ease of use – you don’t want to augment the Weekly Export with something that adds complexity.
  • Check out the reviews on AppExchange for backup solutions – and if you’re not active in the Salesforce Success Community, start now!
  • Talk with Salesforce MVPs in your area about better ways to handle backup than the Weekly Export – you can find MVPs through Salesforce User Groups near you.

The reviews written by Salesforce admins on AppExchange note that Spanning is both very easy to install and use. Because Spanning Backup works “in-app,” it should be on your short list when you follow Salesforce’s advice to get a third-party backup tool. Install it (yes, the trial is free) from the AppExchange here, and let me know what you think in the comments below. You might find yourself paraphrasing Dickens when augmenting that Weekly Backup: “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done…”