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This is part three of a five-part series on methods for backing up your Salesforce data

Data Loader is a client application for the bulk import or export of data. It can be used through the user interface to bulk import or export Salesforce records through .CSV files, as well as Insert, Update, Upsert, Delete, or Export Salesforce records as .CSV files. Data Loader command line can also be used to backup data to or from a relational database, such as Oracle or SQL Server. For full instructions on how to use Salesforce Data Loader, download Salesforce’s Data Loader guide.

Some of the benefits of Data Loader are:

  • It comes free with all Salesforce editions.
  • You can use query language to filter based on field conditions.
  • You can program and schedule it to run at specific times via command line.



Be cautious if you’re using Data Loader as your sole backup and recovery solution. If you’re running a mass Update/Upsert, thinking that just backing up sObjects is good enough, the update could trigger unwanted changes on many other objects. Similarly, if you’re running a mass delete to clean up the system, a deletion could cause a cascade delete, deleting records on many other tables. Identifying every table that would be affected by a cascade delete would require extensive forensic research before conducting the mass delete.

Other issues you may encounter with Salesforce Data Loader include:

  • You can only insert, upsert, and delete one object at a time, which makes the process extremely manual.
  • Since it’s a manual process, you’ll likely only backup once a week at the most. This means you’ll lose data that was changed or deleted in between backups.
  • If you’re exporting .CSV files, they are often stored on laptops or other non-approved media and can create a potential IT security risk.
  • Metadata is not included in the backup files, so you will not be able to rebuild custom settings and relationships.
  • It’s almost impossible to find data if you don’t know the specific time it was lost.
  • Like Salesforce’s Weekly Export, it’s difficult to restore lost or corrupted data.
  • You’ll need to come up with a directory structure and naming convention that is manageable in your backup files.
  • It only supports data loads of 50,000 to 5 million records.
  • This method is prone to cutting corners, forgetting, and it’s a huge waste of time.
  • Needs to be downloaded, installed, configured, and authorized before it can be used.
  • Command line is only available on Windows OS.

If you have a large, complex environment, Data Loader will not be able to support your backup and recovery needs. That’s why Salesforce recommends using a Salesforce partner, like OwnBackup, to help you backup and recover your data in a much more efficient way.

Next: Read Part Four: Backing Up Your Salesforce Data Using Full Sandbox

Until then, request a demo of OwnBackup.
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Updated: March 11, 2020