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How to Archive Data in Salesforce and Reduce Storage Costs

December 9, 2021

Tim Combridge

Table Of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. What Is Data Archiving?
  3. Data Archiving Solutions
  4. Differences Between Data Backup and Archive
  5. What about Salesforce’s Backup and Restore Tool?
  6. Summary

Introduction

As your business grows, you’re going to be gathering more and more clients, which means you’re collecting more and more data about them as well – new Opportunities to do business with them, new Activities every time they send an email or give you a phone call, and new Cases to help them out on their journey with your business.

It’s no secret that Salesforce doesn’t have the cheapest cloud data storage solution on the market, and with your data growing rapidly as your business grows, your Salesforce data bill is likely to grow as well.

All that being said, your data is valuable and deleting it is not something you’d want to do. Your business worked hard to collect customers and organise data related to them – why throw it away because you’re facing additional storage charges? This is where Data Archiving comes in – a way to keep your old, less relevant data without having to remove it entirely or pay to have it kept on-platform.

What Is Data Archiving?

Imagine it this way: you have a pig-shaped money box, like the one you likely had as a child. Every day, you diligently save your hard-earned coins by putting them in the moneybox. Eventually, there comes a point in time where your money box is full – which is great! The only problem is that you want to keep saving. You have a few options:

  1. Stop putting money in the moneybox. This isn’t ideal, as you want to keep saving and acquiring wealth.
  2. Keep buying bigger and bigger money boxes. Sure, you’re able to keep building wealth but it comes at a cost (and for some reason, the money boxes in this example are more expensive than most!)
  3. Partially empty your moneybox, and put the money that you emptied into the bank. It’s not as easy to access, but you don’t really need it all the time anyway – that’s what the moneybox is for. This option allows you to keep your additional money, even though it’s not as easy to access, and continue to save and work with the money in your moneybox.

The third option is essentially how Data Archiving works – you’re still keeping all your money/data, but putting some of it in a different storage space (one that is cheaper to maintain, but does mean that it’s not as easily accessible). There are a number of data archiving tools available that will help you manage your file storage limits in Salesforce by offloading data to a supporting system for data archiving.

Data Archiving Solutions

There are a number of data archiving methods and best practices that you’ll need to consider when creating a data archiving strategy and selecting the right Salesforce data archiving tool for your business.

The first and biggest thing to consider is what data is taking up the most space in your Salesforce org, and what data could potentially be shifted to another storage location and accessed less frequently. You’ll also need to consider if you need a standard UI (ie. a Lightning Page and Page Layout) to view the data, or if you’re able to develop one using Lightning Components, or if you don’t need to access the data within the Salesforce User Interface at all.

Here’s an example: you’ve got an integration set up that pulls in all EFTPOS transaction records from numerous locations and you may be seeing thousands or even tens of thousands of records created per day, with no major need to have all of these transactions available on-platform. This is a perfect example of when you may want to archive your transaction data off the Salesforce platform. There are numerous ways to do this, depending on what your business needs:

  1. Big Objects within Salesforce. Technically speaking, this is still on-platform, but there are a number of differences between Big Objects and Custom Objects. The main difference: Big Objects are designed to store billions of records, while Custom Objects aren’t. Big Objects also don’t have a standard UI and need to have one built using Lightning Components (or Visualforce, if you’re still into that). Check out this Trailhead Module to learn more about the basics of Big Objects.

    Big Object Definition Edit

  2. Salesforce also allows External Objects to be used to help make data archiving easy. External Objects are similar to Custom Objects in that they support Lightning Pages and Page Layouts, and don’t require a custom UI to be built like Big Objects. The difference is that External Objects hold data off-platform in another database and are exposed in the Salesforce User Interface via a connection. This makes it easy to replace your internal Custom Object data as they do behave similarly and have similar functionality. You can see in the image below an example of an External Object that connects to Google Drive to display files inside the Salesforce UI:

    External Data Sources

  3. Simply export your data from Salesforce to create a data archive in another database. This one is less functional, but requires a lot less setup and maintenance effort. Unfortunately, if you use this method to create a Salesforce data archive, you’ll need to manually search off-platform for records when you do need them. This is really only recommended when the data is only required for regulatory or legislative retention purposes and will only need to be accessed in extreme circumstances (probably not a good option for creating a Transaction data archive like the example above).

  4. Use a third party tool like Skyvia Data Replication to retain a full replica of your Salesforce data as a data archive. Tools like this are extremely helpful as they can be set up with ease and configured to automatically copy your data according to a set of rules.

    Skyvia, for example, supports automatic schema creation and incremental updates feature, allowing to create a full replica during the first run and upload only changed records during the subsequent runs.

    Skyvia Replication

    Additionally, Skyvia can be used to get data back from database to Salesforce either by physical data loading, using Skyvia Import, or by a combination of tools, like Skyvia Connect and Salesforce Connect, to display data back as Salesforce external objects via OData endpoint. Skyvia even has a dedicated Salesforce data backup product. However, there is a difference between a backup and archive, and you can read more about it below.

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Differences Between Data Backup and Archive

The difference between a data backup and data archive is quite simple: when you backup your data, you’re taking a copy that can be accessed if things go wrong. This will quite often be a full backup of all of your data within Salesforce that can be used to restore your org to a previous state, or allow users to access important data in the case of an outage.

This is different to a data archive – a data archive is when you’re removing older or less relevant data from your live Salesforce org in order to reduce the amount of data you’re paying for or reduce the amount of data that your users need to sieve through to access what they need. A Salesforce data backup tool is definitely something you’ll want to consider as well, but this is a topic for another article as there are a number of different things to consider and look out for when preparing your Salesforce data backup solution and strategy.

What about Salesforce’s Backup and Restore Tool?

Salesforce recently announced their own entry into the Backup and Restore space at Dreamforce 2021. Their new Platform Tool called Backup and Restore was recently made available for purchase. I haven’t yet had a chance to have hands-on experience with Salesforce Backup and Restore just yet, but I have done some research and discovered quite a bit about the new tool. Again, Salesforce’s new tool is a backup tool, not an archiving tool, so there are a number of key differences but it’s still worth taking a look.

Salesforce states that their Backup and Restore tool will help prevent loss of data (due to system or human errors), recover from any incidents in a small amount of time (and with only a few clicks), and make data management simple while still maintaining CCPA and GDPR compliance. Salesforce Backup and Restore runs as a native application within your Salesforce org, and allows you to backup your data in a separate physical location to where your production data exists.

Salesforce Backup and Restore allows you to select which data to restore and when (i.e. if you’re looking to just restore a record that was wrongfully deleted, you don’t need to restore your entire database). As an admin, you’ll be able to set up permissions to control who can create, manage, and restore backups in your org, and how frequently your data backups should be run. There’s also an automated purging feature that will clear out older backups when they’re no longer needed.

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Summary

So, there you have it! Now you know all about Salesforce Data Archiving, methods of how to archive your Salesforce data off the platform, as well as some best practices in doing so. You’re also now aware of the difference between data backup and archiving, and how to put together a data archiving strategy that best suits your business. Now, you are also aware of third-party tools that can help you copy and store your old Salesforce data safe and with minimum efforts.

Hopefully you’re confident in your understanding of the above concepts, and are able to make a decision around what is best for your business. If you’d like to learn more, please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information about Skyvia Data Replication and how it can benefit your business.

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