Companies manage hundreds of millions of records per day across Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Health Cloud, Financial Services Cloud, and other Salesforce CRM solutions. With so much information, it’s critical to have processes for managing data throughout its lifecycle--from creation and storage to when it becomes obsolete and deleted.
As a Salesforce admin, you're likely implementing many of these policies. When considering your archiving and backup options, you should look into the best modern technologies available to save yourself time and avoid manual processes and ensure your company maintains consistent data archival and protection.
This article will uncover the differences between data archiving and data backups, how they complement each other, and then dive into archiving best practices.
What Is the Difference Between Archives and Backups?
An archive includes historical, rarely-used Salesforce data located out of production. Upon archiving, the information moves to long-term retention for future use. Archiving is about selecting subsets of data from production environments to move to external, long-term storage. When archiving, you should keep information in warm, available, low-cost storage. (Hot data is the data in your production environment, warm data is accessed less frequently and stored on slightly slower storage outside of production, and cold data is rarely accessed and stored on even slower storage outside of production.) While it's not necessary to include metadata in your archives, metadata protection is highly-recommended for backups.
Your archiving options include:
You can use your data backup as a copy of your entire Salesforce production org or sandbox environment to quickly restore in the event of accidental data loss or corruption caused by human error, rogue integrations, bad code, or malicious intent. A comprehensive strategy requires a full backup of your data, metadata, schema, and attachments. It's best to store backups in cold, semi-available, low-cost storage.
Your backup options include:
- Weekly Export and Reports
- In-House through the Salesforce API
- Full Sandbox Refresh
- AppExchange Partner (recommended)
Note: An archive does not replace the need for a backup and vice versa.
Why Archive AND Back-Up Salesforce Data?
As part of the last leg of the data lifecycle marathon, archiving is meant to help your business solve the common challenges associated with having too much data in Salesforce. These include:
- Exceeding your data and file storage limit, causing increased storage costs. Archiving will help you purge the system of data that is of limited day-to-day value.
- Slowing system performance due to an overabundance of unnecessary data. Archiving will help address data that is obsolete.
- Complying with internal policies and industry regulations has become difficult due to low data quality. Archiving will help manage data that is regulated, especially for Veeva customers in the pharmaceutical sector.
These challenges not only impact Salesforce admins, but users across the organization, including customer service, sales, and compliance. Read more about specific use cases here or watch the video below.
The primary purpose of backup and recovery is data protection. You should restore data that is lost or corrupted as soon as possible to maintain business continuity. For example, if you incorrectly implement your archiving policy, you should be able to restore any erroneously deleted data from your backups.
Backing up a few required fields or records isn’t enough. Salesforce is a relational database that doesn’t allow admins to manipulate or populate the record IDs. Salesforce environments base all of the relationships on these record IDs. In the case of a Salesforce object loss, a cascade delete effect will remove all child records associated with that account.
This is one of the big reasons why an audit trail is not a backup and recovery solution. You never know what the scope of a data loss will be in the future. Relying on field level changes on a subset of objects as a reliable backup solution is a fundamentally flawed strategy.
Now that you understand the differences between archiving and backing up and how they complement each other, let’s examine what makes an excellent archiving solution. To learn more about Salesforce backup best practices, click here.
What Are Salesforce Archiving Best Practices?
As you examine your options for archiving solutions, keep the following in mind.
Understand your company’s data retention policy. This policy will usually focus on regulatory and internal compliance requirements. While some industry regulations such as SEC 17a-4, HIPAA, and CFR Part 11 require data retention and accessibility for extended periods, other rules like GDPR and CCPA require companies to do just the opposite. It can be especially challenging to keep track of these different global Salesforce org policies without an automated solution.
Establish security equivalent to your Salesforce orgs. You should encrypt archived data in transit and at rest. Furthermore, role-based access controls must be in place to provide precise permission management for archiving and unarchiving data.
Determine the right archiving frequency. For the majority of companies, this would occur monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually. You should create and manage archiving policies that automatically archive an object.
Implement or schedule each archiving policy. Once your organization has defined its data retention policy, you’ll need to implement them within your archiving tool for each applicable Salesforce record and/or object. Suppose you’re going to implement a manual archiving policy. In that case, you’ll need to send calendar invites to the right people to remind them to log in to Salesforce periodically to execute these queries and ensure that the data is either being deleted altogether or deleted from production and moved to a lower storage tier.
Ensure individual archived records are accessible to users. Unlike backups, archives should be available to specific users, preferably directly within the associated Salesforce platform records. The data archive storage location is entirely dependent on your organization's users and use cases. In most cases, users should be allowed to unarchive records within the platform easily.
Maintain parent-child relationships. When archiving an object, you will want to maintain parent/child record and attachment relationships if the information ever needs to return to production. For example, you wouldn’t want to unarchive a returning account without its related contacts.
Monitor archiving activity. As a final best practice, it’s helpful to report on the progress of your archiving activities, data usage, and archived storage. Doing so will allow your manager to understand the return on investment of your archiving solution.
Streamline Data Governance and Compliance
Archiving Salesforce data manually or in-house can be highly involved. That’s why we recommend our automated AppExchange partner solution. With Own Archive, you can preserve data in archives with customizable retention policies and simplified compliance and reporting.