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All Salesforce Sandbox Types Explained

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As a Salesforce user, you understand better than anyone the value this powerful platform delivers to your organization. However, to maximize Salesforce's benefits, it’s essential to use its sandbox environments effectively. Sandboxes are isolated copies of your Salesforce organization that allow you to test, develop, and train without affecting your live production environment.

However, creating a testing environment isn’t as simple as moving data to a sandbox. You must determine which Salesforce sandbox types are the right fit for your specific use case. 

What is a Salesforce Sandbox?

A Salesforce sandbox is a separate testing and training environment. In this contained environment, you can develop new customizations, configurations, and apps without risking your production data and settings. Sandboxes also prevent new features and updates from disrupting your operations or causing data integrity issues. They provide a safe space for developers and administrators to train and learn important processes so that they avoid irreversible mistakes in production. 

Key Terms to Help You Understand Characteristics of Each Sandbox

Before shifting attention to the four main Salesforce sandbox types, it’s important to familiarize yourself with some common terms, including:

Metadata

In Salesforce, metadata refers to the configuration, settings, and customizations that define your environment. These include:

  • Objects
  • Fields
  • Page layouts
  • Workflows
  • Validation rules

Sandboxes can contain copies of your entire production org, including its metadata.

Data & File Storage

Data storage refers to your actual records in the Salesforce environment. Think of information like accounts, contacts, and opportunities. In contrast, file storage includes attachments, documents, and other data your team uploaded to Salesforce.

Different types of sandboxes offer varying levels of data and file storage capacity, impacting how much of your production data can be included. Your Salesforce developers will need to choose a sandbox with adequate storage limits to create copies of all relevant sample data for their testing processes.

Refresh Interval

The refresh interval is the frequency with which you can sync your sandbox to your production environment. Sandbox refreshes the testing environment with your production org's latest metadata and files.

Frequently updating your testing environment with the latest information plays an important role in quality assurance. If your team is working with outdated data, your test results can become skewed.

Sandbox Template

When you are creating a new sandbox, you can manually select the type and amount of data to bring over. Alternatively, you can create templates that allow you to define specific data and metadata to include when creating or refreshing a sandbox.

This helps your team optimize storage usage. It also ensures that only relevant information gets copied over, making the environment more efficient.

The 4 Salesforce Sandbox Types

Salesforce offers multiple types of sandboxes, each of which serves a different purpose. The four main types of Salesforce sandboxes are as follows:

Full Copy

A full sandbox is a replica of your production environment, including all metadata and files. You should use this type of sandbox for comprehensive testing and development, user training, and other major projects.

In addition to including all of your data, a full sandbox has high storage capacity. Generally, you can refresh the environment once every 29 days. This type of sandbox also provides the ideal environment for integration testing, performance testing, and user acceptance testing (UAT).

Partial Copy

A partial sandbox contains a subset of your production data and metadata, as defined in your template. It provides a healthy mix of data volume and refresh frequency. While you can bring over large datasets and custom objects, you won’t have to deal with your entire organization's database.

A partial sandbox offers moderate storage capacity and is suitable for most load-testing processes. You’ll also be able to refresh the environment every five days. If you need access to relatively new or live data, a partial environment represents one of the best options.

Developer Pro

A developer pro sandbox provides a full copy of your metadata and a limited number of other files. It is designed for individual development and testing activities. This option offers more storage than standard developer sandboxes and can be refreshed once daily.

Generally, you should use this type of environment for development and coding processes. You can also leverage it to engage in prototyping and experimentation, as well as smaller-scale integration testing.

Developer

The most basic testing environment in Salesforce is a developer sandbox. This tool only contains metadata and a minimal amount of other information, making it ideal for lightweight development and testing.

Like the pro developer sandbox, this environment allows daily refreshes, giving you access to real-time information. However, the storage is extremely limited. Generally, you should use this environment to conduct trial-and-error testing for new features. It’s also a good practice environment for new users.

Which Salesforce Sandbox Is Best for You?

There aren’t any one-size-fits-all sandbox options. Instead, you should choose the testing environment that best aligns with the intent and needs of your specific project. With that in mind, here’s a guide to help you decide which sandbox best fits your situation:

When to Use Full Copy Sandbox

Creating and moving data to a full sandbox can be a time and resource-intensive process. For that reason, you should only use this approach when you need to perform end-to-end testing that involves all aspects of your Salesforce environment.

For instance, a full sandbox represents the best fit for user acceptance testing, as it allows you to finalize changes and get user approval before deploying the updates to your Salesforce org. Additionally, a full copy environment makes sense if you need to test how new features will perform under load.

Lastly, you should use full sandboxes to ensure data migration processes work correctly to limit data loss or corruption. Otherwise, you might encounter unwanted surprises once you start moving information over from an old environment to a new one.

When to Use Partial Copy Sandbox

A partial sandbox offers a great mix of data capacity and versatility. You can import a representative data subset for thorough testing without tying up as much time or resources.

Additionally, you should consider a partial copy if you want to train users on new features using real-world data. Making the training experience more real can help enhance knowledge retention while also reinforcing key concepts.

If you are going to perform integration testing and don’t need a full dataset, consider the partial sandbox approach. You can enjoy many of the same benefits while performing your testing in a more nimble environment.

When to Use Developer Pro Sandbox

If individual developers need a robust environment for coding and testing new features, they should use a pro sandbox. This option offers plenty of flexibility and just enough data to decide whether their project is viable in a live environment.

The developer pro sandbox also represents a great option when creating prototypes and proofs of concept. It can be refreshed daily, which enables developers to see how their design adapts to incoming data and environmental changes. However, they will need to move to a partial sandbox when they are ready to begin load testing.

When to Use Developer Sandbox

As the most basic and lightweight testing environment, the developer sandbox can be a good option for minor tasks that don’t require extensive data. Some examples may include tweaking an existing app’s functionality or trying out a new feature.

Most organizations use these sandboxes to create a practice environment for developers or admins. This allows them to try out new concepts without compromising organizational data or threatening business continuity. Developer sandboxes are also useful for conducting simple tests that require minimal data.

How Can Own Help With Salesforce Sandbox Seeding?

Now that you’re familiar with the Salesforce sandbox types, how can you best leverage them to support your development processes? 

With Own Accelerate for Salesforce, you can quickly seed precise, relevant data from production or sandboxes to any Developer, Developer Pro, Partial, or Full sandboxes.

Ready to see how Own can support your Salesforce sandbox goals? Check out our guide below, or view a demo today.

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Submit your details now to get an on-demand demo and see our Accelerate solution in action.

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