The Surprise Behind your Weekly Data Export

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Lock down that data!

In your nonprofit Salesforce admin toolkit, a weekly backup is a must. Although I completely trust Salesforce’s security to store your data, having a weekly backup makes me feel extra confident in case anything goes wrong on my side of the data equation. Here are some examples:

  • I perform a major import of new data, but something goes wrong. I can use last week’s backup to check and compare against.
  • A staff member deleted a series of records in a merge operation, but now I need some of that ‘lost’ information and it’s past the 15 days the deleted records are held in the recycle bin. I can perform a find in the weekly backup spreadsheets.

How do I perform a Salesforce backup? 

Check out this knowledge article and this blog post from Shell Black for more information (spoiler alert: you’ll navigate to Setup –> Data Management –> Data Export).

What tips and tricks should I consider when performing a Salesforce backup? 

I’ve found several tips to make my Longshore Consulting clients more successful with their weekly backups:

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Yes, you can take it with you…

1. Schedule the backup for a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. Since the backup file download links are only good for 48 hours, starting earlier in the week means you’ll have more time on weekdays if you can’t get to this task the exact moment you receive an email from Salesforce that your backup is ready.

2. Export attachments on a quarterly basis. Since attachments are huge, it’s typically not necessary to back these up more than once a quarter. Add a calendar reminder for yourself to manually check off the attachments checkbox once every three months, then uncheck it for the following weeks.

3. Save the files to a shared drive or other secured location. Since keeping your data safe is the name of the game, be sure you know where you’re going to put the files. You may need to speak with IT if the files become extremely large.

And finally…

4. Guess what: all data in your weekly data export is not really all data!

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Watch out!

Thanks to a recent conversation in the Power of Us Hub, I learned that not all data is included in my weekly data export! As Judi Sohn said in the Hub, “[Your weekly data export includes] ‘all data at the time you scheduled the backup’ and not ‘all data now and in the future.'” YIKES!!!

So what can you do?

  • Use an external, paid tool like backupify to perform daily automated backups (h/t Adam Kramer).
  • Proactively check the boxes next to new objects you create or apps/managed packages you install from the AppExchange after the first date you set up your Data Export. (h/t Beth Breines)

What helps you with your weekly Salesforce backups? Have you come across any other tips, surprises, or tools? Let me know in the comments!

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12 comments

  1. Anna Loughnan · · Reply

    Hi, after many years of these weekly backups I have recently discovered that although you have 48 hours to download the files, it doesn’t include weekends apparently, so you *should* be able to safely export later in the working week…
    And yes, I do have to remember to go back and check what is scheduled for export from time to time as anything new isn’t auto included 🙂

    1. Hi Anna, Wow, I learn something new every day! Have you tried that technique with success (e.g., scheduling it for a Friday and successfully clicking on the link and downloading the files on Monday)? I fall into the better safe than sorry camp, as I don’t think I’d remember to do it on Monday anyways, but this is great to know! Missy

      1. Anna Loughnan · ·

        Hi Missy, not 100% sure if I have actually tested it myself or not! Have definitely been told by SF at some stage that that’s the case (working days). It would presumably make things more balanced for the SF servers if they publicised this as I am sure most people schedule backups early-midweek…
        At one stage we had an issue that the backup was queued for so long that (several days) that the next week’s backup started and cancelled out the files that should still have been available for downloading, but only saw that once.

  2. Doug DeFrees · · Reply

    I wasn’t aware that the weekly export could miss things as the org grew. Would cancelling the weekly export and then scheduling it again be an easy way to ensure nothing major was being left out of the export?

    1. Hi Doug, This sounds like a great solution to me, but I would encourage you to confirm by asking in the Power of Us Hub! ~ Missy

      1. Doug DeFrees · ·

        Hi, Missy,

        As you suggested, I asked the question but since it is not non-profit specific I asked on the success community; I included the exchange below. I only got one reply and it contradicts the information you shared in your blog post. How can we get a definitive answer on this?

        ————————–

        Vinay Chaturvedi replied to your question at 10:03 AM on 6/15/2016.

        Original question:
        We do a weekly Organization Data Export to backup our org to protect ourselves from ourselves. I recently heard, however, that if you modify your org in certain ways, perhaps by adding new custom objects, you can end up having an incomplete backup as the new objects would not be included. Is this true? Is the solution to periodically cancel and then resechedule the weekly exports to ensure you are getting all of your data?

        Reply:
        Hi Dough,
        No this can never happen! Just for confirming,Have you seen any setting that says that only those records will be exported ,Ofcourse NO.
        So do not worry!
        Also just make sure when you do esport data settings,jus tmake sure:
        Under Exported Data select Include all data if you are not familiar with the terminology used for some of the types of data of data as well.
        But this recommended setting again wont hamper the records.

    2. Anna Loughnan · · Reply

      I disagree with Vinay (and know also from experience)
      You can test it for yourself… When you first schedule the export and tick the Include All data box, all objects in your org THAT EXIST AT THAT TIME are ticked, and will be exported. But any time a new object gets added in it is NOT auto included… See this by adding a custom object in a sandbox and then looking again at what the data export says, you will find that all objects are ticked except your new one…so you do need to go in and re tick the Include All Data button after new objects have been added – they are not auto included….

      1. Anna Loughnan · ·

        ….and further to this I have just checked my own org. i haven’t added any objects recently yet there are some unticked items – eg Social Post. Suspect these are from SF in the last release…?

      2. Doug DeFrees · ·

        Likewise, I checked my org and found quite a few objects which were not selected. I suspect we don’t have any corresponding records but to be sure I checked the “Export all Data” box. Perhaps I should check on this from time to time to ensure everything is included in the export.

        Thanks, Anna!

      3. Thanks Anna for your awesome reply! Yes, Vinay is INCORRECT. To clarify: it’s not that new RECORDS won’t be included in your weekly backup, it’s that new OBJECTS won’t be included. I hope this helps, but it sounds like it’s been resolved! Best, Missy

  3. Lori Witzel · · Reply

    Missy, thanks for raising awareness! This Salesforce MVP encourages your readers to go to the AppExchange and search using the word “backup” – you gotta “back that SaaS up!” I’ve presented on the topic to numerous Salesforce User Groups, and “user group therapy” is no joke when admins share their stories of admin-or-user-caused data loss.(Full disclosure – I work on the Product Team at Spanning Backup.)

    1. Thanks so much, Lori, for this great suggestion!

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