Dishing Deep in Chicago on Salesforce Data and Metadata Backup and Restore

Late January, more than 40 Salesforce admins and developers gathered in downtown Chicago for Salesforce Circles of Success, and to learn about a better way to protect their Salesforce data and metadata.

Chicago Deep Dish PizzaIn this blog, you’ll hear what was dished up by participants at the Chicago Salesforce User Group meeting on real-life data loss stories. You’ll also learn what gaps there are in Salesforce’s native data protection tools, and why Spanning’s approach was of such interest.

Salesforce data and metadata loss are not as uncommon as you may think—at every User Group where we present, we hear loss stories from even experienced admins and developers. The Chicago Salesforce User Group was no exception. We heard:

  • End users overwrite their data in error – a lot. The time it takes an admin to support end users when they accidentally overwrite critical data in error is time that admin could use for other responsibilities. One of the attendees had worked for a company that used Spanning, and loved that Spanning lets end users safely do on-page restores, if an admin enables that feature – a bonus of Spanning being in-app.
  • Data loads can overwrite massive amounts of good data with bad at compute speed – and it’s not rare. At every User Group Therapy session, more than one or two admins talk about misconfigured data loads, and the painful data loss caused by having hundreds of thousands of records overwritten in error. Spanning customers love not having to worry about quickly getting things back to normal.
  • The Export Service is at best a stop-gap, at worst a pain. Admins said it takes lots of time (see this blog for details), it sometimes won’t complete, and it’s weekly – not good for an org with lots of data changes. With Spanning Backup you get automated, daily backups at a time of your choosing, and you can backup anytime easily.

You might be as surprised as some User Group members were to learn Salesforce says admins and developers should use third-party backup and restore software. But there are good reasons why Salesforce recommends going to an AppExchange partner for backup.

  1. Native tools take more time. Salesforce native tools – primarily the Export Service, for data backup, and IDE and other developer tools, for metadata restoration – can be very time-consuming to use. When fast recovery of lost data or metadata is a must, native tools can leave your organization at risk.
  2. Native tools have gaps. The Export Service provides .csv files of data only – to recover an accidentally deleted field used in a report or dashboard, for example, you’d need to restore the metadata using IDE, as well as restore the underlying data.
  3. Native tools require more skills. Restoring lost data from an Export Service .csv means understanding the org’s data schema in detail, including the dependencies, to avoid errors. The correct order must be followed during a data load to preserve parent-child relationships. Developer skills are needed to restore lost metadata with native tools like IDE, and for many admins, acquiring those skills may take time they don’t have.

This was no surprise to the Salesforce Portfolio Success Managers who were there to lead Circles of Success. Even they had data and metadata loss stories to share from their pre-Salesforce days, and they understood that Salesforce – while robust and secure – can’t protect you from you.

Chicago Salesforce User Group

While it was wonderful to see Denise Carbone again, and to connect our Senior Product Manager Daivat Dholakia with my friends in the Chicago Salesforce User Group, what struck me most about our session was that there are still some members of the #SalesforceOhana who don’t know their risk of data and metadata loss.

This isn’t unusual – but I won’t stop until we raise awareness with every admin and developer.

As we saw in the 2017 Trailblazer Community Survey, 32% of respondents either don’t use, or don’t know if they use, protection from Salesforce data loss. With shared efforts among Salesforce User Group leadership, I am hopeful we’ll improve these awareness statistics in time for Dreamforce 2018.

Stop Wrestling with the Salesforce Export