The Ultimate Salesforce Backup Strategy for 2019

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Salesforce data loss can happen to anyone – and the facts prove it! Data loss is much more common than many believe and can potentially cost thousands of dollars in recovery fees and labor hours. There are many causes that range from employee mistakes to hardware failures. In 2019, technology will continue to be innovated upon, and we’ll continue to be more reliant on digital systems to manage data. Fortunately, losing your Salesforce data can be preventable! This guide will give you information and actionable steps you can take in developing or refining your Salesforce backup strategy for 2019.

What is Data Loss?

Data loss is when digital information is destroyed by errors, failures, or neglect in storage, processing, or transmission. Backup and disaster recovery equipment, processes, or software, may be implemented to prevent and/or restore lost data.

Why a Salesforce Backup Plan is Important

So, why is having a Salesforce backup strategy important? Simply because – things happen. There are many causes of data loss and you don’t want to be left stranded if unexpected loss occurs. Below, we’ll discuss some statistics in detail along with recommendations to combat these causes of loss within YOUR organization.

The best Salesforce backup plan for 2019
Having a plan to backup and restore your Salesforce data will save you many headaches.

Accidental Deletion

Yikes! Accidents happen. 33% of data loss within the United States is due to accidental deletion alone. That’s a lot of accidents happening and can potentially result in millions of dollars in lost time, revenue, and labor.

If you don’t have a disaster recovery plan for Salesforce, expect to pay a minimum of $10,000 for the Salesforce recovery service. Oh – and the lead time to get your data can take weeks. If you do the math – that’s a lot of wasted time and resources waiting for your data! Having your Salesforce data backed up into a cloud-hosted solution, or on-premise database can save your company if disaster strikes.

Overwriting Information

27% of data loss is due to overwriting correct information with information that’s incorrect. This could be accidental or even malicious. Unfortunately, this can happen at scale if 3rd party apps are used that read and write Salesforce data. A user could accidentally use an app to change a field in Salesforce, and potentially change thousands of fields to the wrong type of data!

Having an up-to-date backup can easily restore the correct values back into Salesforce.

User Errors

So what happens if your users are making errors and you don’t have an Enterprise backup plan in place? Well, as mentioned above, you’ll end up going to Salesforce, paying $10,000 and playing the waiting game. 70% of data loss is due to user error (that’s HUGE!).

Accidental deletion of Salesforce data is very common

We highly recommend backing up your Salesforce data locally, AND in the cloud if you’re able to. This should be a part of a healthy Enterprise-grade backup and recovery plan so you’ll never have to worry about user errors disrupting workflow.

Reliability on SaaS Vendors

If you currently don’t have a backup strategy for Salesforce, this means you’re relying on Salesforce (and your users) to keep your data safe. Salesforce does a pretty good job of not losing your data, but they can’t protect you from accidents or malicious actions that users take.

In addition, if you’re reliant on a cloud-based backup and recovery software where you DON’T have access to the database, the fate of your data is in their hands as well. The chances of a 3rd-party app losing your data is uncommon, but still very possible. Having a copy of your data on-premises that you control, or access to the cloud-app database that hosts your data, can help mitigate loss all-around.

Needs that Backup and Recovery Helps Solve

Each business and organization may have different reasons for wanting to backup their Salesforce data. Some just want to as part of a more comprehensive disaster recovery plan, while others want to get their data out to do business analysis.

  • Data Governance – If you need to backup for data governance reasons, you should first define what your backup and recovery needs are. This can be done individually or through a consultant. Next, you’ll want to establish proper policies and standards around how your data is handled and monitor it accordingly.
  • Service Level Agreements – If backing up data is part of a service level agreement, it is best practice to periodically archive your data to a 2nd tier storage which will help alleviate performance impacts due to large data sets.
  • Business Operations – Your backup strategy for business operation purposes should ensure your business data is preserved when using 3rd-party applications.
  • High Availability – A benefit of having the ability to backup and recover your data is to ensure business operations can be continued quickly if outages or loss occurs.
  • Regulatory Compliance – Backing up your data to an appropriate tier of storage can help with retention and compliance policies.
  • Business Intelligence and Analytics – If your company wishes to backup in order to do BI and analytics, you should do periodic (or even real-time) backups that sync with your data warehouse or BI repositories.
  • Data Migration – If you’re migrating data, it’s recommending that you’re able to backup and recover your data if data migration issues occur.

The 4-Step Backup and Recovery Plan

So, as we’ve seen from above – there’s almost no reason you SHOULDN’T be backing up your Salesforce data. Backing up is investing in a valuable resource (aka your data). So how do we even develop a plan to back up? What tools do we need?

Well, there are 4 steps you will want to follow when developing your own backup and recovery plan. A similar 4-step plan is actually encouraged by Salesforce themselves as best practice.

Step 1 – Baseline

Step 1 is simply baselining what data you currently have within your Salesforce Orgs. If you’re an enterprise organization, this may take a while to determine exactly what data you have that’s critical to the business. In this step, you’ll also want to identify any SLA’s and make note of any regulatory and compliance needs that may affect how and where you will eventually backup your data.

Step 2 – Understand

In Step 2, you’ll want to document the potential business impact(s) of a backup plan for Salesforce. What will this now mean for the company? You’ll also want to do a risk assessment in terms of time and cost for critical processes that could be affected by a data loss, and prioritize these according to highest risk and cost. Whatever standards you’re currently using for other Enterprise systems can usually also be extended to Salesforce. Finally, start some research and talk to potential vendors for a backup and recovery solution based on your preliminary criteria.

Step 3 – Plan & Implement

By this stage, you should have enough information to effectively solidify an implementation plan for a backup and recovery solution. Here, you should choose a handful of vendors, begin testing their products and/or services, and choose a solution. Defining roles and responsibilities for team members is also important by the time you’ve solidified the implementation plan. Who is going to be responsible and accountable for what?

Step 4 – Measure

Now that you’ve got your backup and recovery solution implemented, it’s time to measure and continually monitor it. Create a change management plan as well as a plan to ensure users are always adhering to best practices around your company’s data.

Backup Types and Salesforce APIs

When you’re planning out your backup plan for Salesforce, it’s important to know about what backup types you’ll want to utilize, as well as the types of APIs that Salesforce offers. These are good conversation pieces when talking to vendors. We’ll discuss vendor options next, but ensuring your vendor supports the frequency of backups you’ll need to perform, as well as being able to backup the TYPE of data you need are important questions to flush out! It is a headache to be stuck in a contract with a solution that can’t do what you need it to.

Backup Types and When to Use Them

There are 3 main backup types you should be aware of. Each of these types handles data differently and you may want to use different types depending on your backup scenario.

  1. Full Backup – The full backup does exactly what it says. It backups up ALL of the data. This backup type is good because it will contain the important information you want backed up. There are drawbacks to doing a full backup every time though. If you have a lot of data in your Salesforce Org(s) it can take a long time to get all of it backed up! Some solutions such as Reflection Enterprise will allow you to perform full backups, but only update records and data that have been changed based on their Last Modified Date. This speeds up full backups tremendously!
  2. Incremental Backup – An incremental backup will only backup data that is new or has been changed since the last backup (regardless of the type of backup). This backup would be good for backing up data that you know was changed on a particular day. An issue of performing this backup is that it may lack certain data and can take time to consolidate data from full backups and incremental backups performed in the past.
  3. Partial Backup – A partial backup only backs up certain data types (ex. Account Records). If you want to archive old data, the partial backup is the best way to do that (ex. Records older than 3 years).
API call limit and optimization for Salesforce

Salesforce API Types

There are a few different API types that Salesforce offers. Each of these API types will support different use-cases in backing up your data. You’ll want to clarify with vendors which types of APIs they use to backup your data and how these contribute to your API limits within Salesforce.

API TypeWhat It DoesRecommended Use Case
Bulk APIThe Bulk API uses Bulk API calls which do not contribute to your Salesforce API call limitsIf you need to preserve API call limits – you’ll want to use the Bulk API
MetadataThe Metadata API is the best choice for retrieving all of your metadata. Some metadata is also included in the other API types.You need to backup metadata.
REST or SOAPThe SOAP API allows you to retrieve a variety of records.You need to backup an object that isn’t supported by Bulk API or you need to backup files and attachments.

Salesforce Backup and Restore Vendor Options

Once you have a plan in place, choosing a solution and/or vendor is a critical addition to a successful backup and recovery plan for Salesforce. There are many good options and vendors in the Salesforce ecosystem that each offer something similar with their own unique twists. To simplify, we’ve broken the options down below:

Salesforce Native Backup Support

Salesforce offers some free data exporting options, though not typically recommended for the large organization. Data exports are in .csv format and very labor intensive to get them backed up where you need them. These options are typically good for small organizations without much data. In addition, there are other very raw Salesforce tools you can use, such as the Salesforce API’s, Org Sync, Data Loader, and S2S. There are also “native” options in that there is a tab to the backup solution within Salesforce. This is problematic in that the (unlikely) chance that Salesforce goes down, you won’t be able to access your backup solution.

Appexchange and 3rd-Party Offerings

There are a few 3rd-party offerings that dedicate their heart and souls to providing Salesforce backup and restoration (like Reflection Enterprise!). You can find these vendors on the Appexchange. You’ll also need to decide whether you want an on-premises or cloud-hosted solution as some vendors only provide one or the other. We (and Salesforce) recommend on-premises due to having full control of your data, or on-premises in addition to your cloud-hosted solution. Whatever you decide, there is a vendor to satisfy your requirements!

So What Now?

It’s obvious the immense benefits that having a Salesforce backup strategy can offer (as well as the headaches it will save you!). Losing your Salesforce data IS preventable, but only you can take the next step making it a best practice in your organization. So what’s next? It’s never too early to start picking vendor’s brains on suggested best practices and testing out their solutions. We’d love the opportunity to meet you and discuss your disaster recovery needs for Salesforce. Whether you need an on-premises solution, or prefer cloud-hosted, we want to chat!

What is your favorite best-practice for protecting your Salesforce data? Let us know in the comments!

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