Salesforce Backup Solutions Comparison
In the year 2021, Salesforce reported annual revenues in excess of $21 billion, thus making it one of the most profitable cloud computing enterprises in the world. With more companies trusting their crucial data to Salesforce, it is imperative that users and administrators conduct their own Salesforce backup solutions comparison.
As the company clearly explains in its online technical support documents, accidental deletion of Salesforce data is something that can happen more often than you think. Errors in the source files or changes to data field mapping can result in an irreversible disaster that can only be mitigated with a solid Salesforce backup policy in place.
How Does Salesforce Backup Work?
The first thing to know about data backup in Salesforce cloud applications is that it is not a native automated process. There is a misconception about all Software-as-a-Service apps providing automatic data backups, but this is not accurate. While Salesforce data centers have their own backup protection systems in place, this does not extend to clients by default. When making a Salesforce backup solutions comparison, it is important to know that some of them involve manual processes, and they are often preferred by seasoned administrators for reasons we will discuss below.
With all the above in mind, let’s start our Salesforce backup solutions comparison with a look at the various options you have in this regard:
Whether you choose a manual export or automated third-party option for backups, you will always be prompted to select your desired data format. The CSV data format is also known as comma-delimited. If you choose MS Excel, the file type extension will be XLS or XLSX.
The Salesforce Backup Retirement and Reversal
Before getting started with our Salesforce backup solutions comparison, we need to clear the air about what happened to the Salesforce backup retirement announcement in July 2020. Salesforce is known to be a company that constantly reviews its features, practices, and methodologies; to this effect, its paid Data Recovery Service, which is a native solution, was suddenly retired in mid-2020 following a statement about its perceived reliability and functionality.
In March 2021, the Salesforce Data Recovery Service was reactivated after the company reversed its previous stance; this was reportedly done after evaluating numerous requests from clients who felt that the solution, though far from perfect, provided peace of mind as a last resort. This Salesforce service is not free; subscribers must pay a one-time charge of $10,000, and many of them are happy to do so despite nuisances such as the long waiting periods to get their data back.
What is interesting about the return of this service is that Salesforce representatives will be the first to tell you that there are better options out there. We realize that this is highly unusual, but not for industry analysts who have followed the company for a few years. Salesforce executives are straight shooters who realize that some third-party solutions work better than native features and services, and they are not afraid to endorse them. Many of the recommendations we will make in this Salesforce backup solutions comparison have been created by third-party developers, and it is easy to argue that they work better than the native Data Recovery Service.
Salesforce is not ready to throw in the towel with regard to native data backup options. A new Salesforce Backup and Restore service that aims to compete with third-party solutions was launched in November 2021, and its pricing can be scaled according to the needs and usage scope of subscribers.
As mentioned above, Salesforce data is inherently vulnerable to human error, malicious activity, and insider attacks. You can always trust Salesforce to restore your apps and data if their cloud servers or instances go down or become compromised, but not when other situations arise on your end.
Top Data Backup and Recovery Solutions for Salesforce
What do you think would happen if the Salesforce data center where your business data is stored is wiped out by a natural disaster? Let’s say you subscribe to Salesforce Marketing Cloud; if an earthquake destroys the cloud server where your instance is stored, you may not be able to access the platform for a few hours or even a day, but service will eventually be restored with all your data intact. This is part of the service level agreement you have with the SaaS provider; if something goes wrong on their end, you can trust that things will go back to normal as soon as possible.
Things are different with the everyday use of Salesforce cloud apps because the chances of accidental data loss become exponential. We know that human errors are quite common; we can do a lot in terms of trying to prevent them, but we can always count on a systems administrator clicking on the wrong option. All it takes is an incorrect configuration file being loaded to delete massive amounts of data. Think about the various Salesforce mobile apps that provide access through smartphones; we know that touchscreen mistakes are quite common, and in some cases, they may result in data loss.
Minimizing the likelihood of accidental data loss in Salesforce can be accomplished through user training and education, it should also involve having a solid plan for disaster recovery. Should an emergency situation occur, you will want to be able to restore Salesforce data faster than the aforementioned Data Recovery Service, which can take weeks to complete your request.
If your business is heavily reliant on Salesforce apps, you will want to draft a disaster recovery plan that is based on a Salesforce backup solutions comparison. In addition to human error, data loss may also emanate from malicious activity, insider attacks, a workflow rule gone wrong, or a data migration operation that ends up overwriting existing data because of incompatible values.
Salesforce has already established that the native Data Recovery Service will not work for everyone. Unless you can wait up to eight weeks for your data to be restored, you will want to explore the following options:
You can manually export Salesforce data through the Data Management workflow in the Setup screen. This can also be done through the reporting function and the DataLoader tool. If you only need to backup metadata, this can be done through the Salesforce Package Manager. Third-party data backup solutions are generally your best bet.
Manual Salesforce Backup Methods
If your company is able to assign a reliable systems administrator who not only gets things done but is also able to delegate certain tasks, a manual Salesforce data export will be a sensible option. This is as easy as going to the Setup screen, choosing Data Management, and activating the Data Export function. Once this is done, administrators or users will be able to export a file in the right format, which can then be uploaded to physical, shared, or cloud storage in order to provide others with access to the backup.
Similar data export can be accomplished through the Salesforce DataLoader tool, which is often used to import data, and through the native Reports function. Keep in mind that while these manual options are effective in terms of data integrity, the rest is up to you, and this includes establishing secure storage and access control, which should be part of your disaster recovery plan.
Backing Up Salesforce Data and Metadata
When we talk about data backups, we are referring to the information that was input into fields, not the information that configures the fields themselves. If your Salesforce apps have been customized by a development team, you will need a separate file to backup the metadata, and you can do this through the native Change Sets workflow or the Force.com Migration Tool. It could be argued that data is more important than metadata; nonetheless, you should look for a solution that lets you backup both.
If your use of Salesforce is limited to its customer relationship management (CRM) module, and if you do not need to change the default configuration file, there will be no real need to backup your metadata. On the other hand, if your Salesforce apps need to be customized to your business operations, metadata backups are mandatory.
Salesforce Sandbox and Relational Databases
If you are familiar with restoring data into relational databases, you should know that the process is different with Salesforce. Although the base CRM of Salesforce is in fact a relational database, it is proprietary and cannot be accessed directly, which means that directly writing ObjectID() properties is not possible. This is why you need to resort to manual exports and third-party solutions.
Salesforce clients who need to run a Sandbox for development purposes already have their data and metadata backup needs taken care of. The Salesforce Sandbox is a paid service that completely mirrors the main instance so that developers can run tests, but this option may not fit the budgets of small business owners.
Regardless of the Salesforce apps or components you subscribe to, there are three main data formats for export: Microsoft Excel, comma-separated values (CSV), or Google Sheets. For the most part, CSV is the most reliable option for Salesforce users that have customized their apps extensively.
Third-Party Salesforce Data Backup Solutions
The following connectors and add-ons are among the ones referred to by Salesforce executives as being preferable to their native Data Recovery Service:
This solution automates the full export process for you on a daily basis, but you can also configure it so that it targets objects or fields that change with greater frequency so that the backups happen more often. This solution has a great track record for precision restore operations, and it is also able to compare export files in case of metadata changes.
As the most popular Salesforce solution used by development teams, Gearset offers the most secure and comprehensive backup and restore operations. Licensing for the full set of Gearset development tools can be pretty expensive; however, if you only need a backup plan, a single professional license can be a reasonable option.
This solution is developed by Kaseya, a trusted brand in the IT world. Configuring Spanning takes just a few clicks, but even if you skip this process, the default configuration will result in a “bare-metal” backup that will include data, metadata, Salesforce Chatter messages, and even attachments. Encryption and compliance tools are also provided with your Spanning subscription.
While most third-party solutions for Salesforce backups focus on automating the data export process, Druva is different in the sense that it provides value-added features such as data governance and compliance with measures such as the General Data Protection Rule of the European Union. If your line of business requires you to make certain fields anonymous in order to provide data privacy, this solution is highly recommended. Furthermore, data backups can be encrypted not only when they are in storage but also during the cloud upload and recovery periods.
With the latest version of Google Sheets, you can install the Data Connector for Salesforce extension, which will require you to access your apps and allow the extension to interact with the cloud service. Once this is done, you can choose between Import and Reports; the latter is easier and more straightforward.
The Bottom Line of Salesforce Data Backup
Just because your data resides in the cloud servers of reputable SaaS companies such as Salesforce, this does not mean it is impervious to data loss. Based on what we have discussed herein, you should be able to manage your Salesforce backup policy needs through manual processes, native solutions, or third-party extensions once you complete a Salesforce backup solutions comparison.
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