Believe it or not, there are recommended lengths of time that we should all be retaining important financial data. For example, tax records should be kept for a minimum of seven years. Bank statements should be retained for the same amount of time. The idea is that we may need to recall this information in order to apply for a home loan, or if we are audited by the IRS.

Salesforce has it’s own set of data which should be exported and retained for safe keeping.

These data exports are easy to setup and don’t require a lot of work, but saving this data can safeguard your organization from loss or painfully expensive forensic research.

I’ve outlined three types of data exports that you should start right away, and one tool which I think is really important for admins to be aware of when troubleshooting issues with Salesforce. Think of this as a bonus – my little gift to you! Let’s get started.

Setup Audit Trail

Changes made in Setup can actually be tracked. This includes everything from administrative changes to customization and security related settings (and more). Here is the full list of items tracked.

Orgs with multiple admins or where Delegated Admins are making changes simultaneously in Setup should be exporting this on a regular basis. Solo admins should also consider saving the setup audit trail as well as a way to cover your tracks and clearly explain what changes you have made. I’ve used it in the past to track down when I made a specific change in Salesforce and has been very useful in this regard.

To download the Setup Audit Trail, click Security Controls | View Setup Audit Trail | Download.

Information is tracked for 180 days then purged automatically. So, setup a reminder in your favorite tool to download the audit trail every 6 months and save it to a shared drive somewhere.

Weekly Data Export

Salesforce data is one of your companies most valuable assets. Backing up the data is critically important to ensure nothing happens to it. New applications are available to do this easily (like Backupify) but for some they may be too much.

Administrators have the ability to schedule a regular data export. This export includes all data, files and Chatter related posts (if you choose) as a series of .csv files which can be downloaded from Salesforce on a weekly or monthly basis.

Just like the Setup Audit Trail, this information should be kept forever. Depending on the size of the Salesforce org, these files can quickly grow in size and equate to several gigabits so be sure to choose a storage location wisely.

To schedule regular data exports click Data Management | Data Export | Schedule Export. Choose what data should be included in the export and the frequency. Once saved, you’ll receive an email when the export is ready to be downloaded.

User Login History

Understanding when and where users are logging into Salesforce can be very important in the right circumstances. Salesforce captures information with each login including the username, IP address, application logged used (browser vs. Salesforce1 etc.) and more. Should data ever go missing, or a users account is somehow used from an IP address from across the world, it’s important to track and retain all of this information.

Login history contains 6 months worth of data with every export. Just like the Setup audit trail, add a reminder to your calendar to download this information bi-annually. Be sure that it is saved in a shared location so that it is accessible by those in the organization who would need. This information should be retained forever.

To download user login history click Manage Users | Login History

Debug Log

Debug logs can be a little complex to read, but provide a great way to record system processes and errors which occur during database transactions. I have personally used these to troubleshoot workflow rules which were either triggering at the incorrect time or not at all. Aside from workflow rules, they can be also track additional items such as:

  • Assignment rules
  • Apex errors
  • Validation rules
  • Approval processes
  • Email jobs

Here is an excerpt from Help & Training on how an admin would use the debug log.

As an administrator for an organization, you can use the debug log to troubleshoot when a user reports difficulties. You can monitor the debug logs for the user while they step through the related transaction, then use the debug log to view the system details.

Setting up a debug log is easy. Click Setup | Logs | Debug Logs. Logs are created for a specific user so the next step is to create a new log for a specified user then save the log. It will instantly begin to track transactions.

Keep in mind that each debug log captures only 20 transactions. To use this feature correctly, you should be able to either login as the user, or have them replicate the error as soon as the debug log has been initiated. If you wait too long, the debug log will be filled with transactions that aren’t relevant to your troubleshooting, and you’ll need to setup a new log for that user.

Next Steps

The first three tools we looked at, Setup Audit Trail, Weekly Data Export and User Login History are items that you don’t need to do much with except to export that data on a regular cadence. So, here is what I would do right now.

  1. Login to your org and export each of these three reports.
  2. Save the files to their own folders on a secure shared drive for easy recall.
  3. Setup a calendar reminder to export this data again based on their history retention schedules. You’ll end up with three calendar reminders – one for each tool.

The debug log doesn’t require any action right now unless there is an issue that you are trying to troubleshoot. Just keep this tool in your back pocket for future reference. It will come in handy!

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13 thoughts on “ Salesforce Data Exports You Probably Aren’t Doing ”

  1. Hi Brent! How about relationships between objects when exporting data? I mean, what would you do to keep the same relationships and to export all related itens of a registry when exporting data? For example if I setup a rule that export leads that didnt have the status changed after 2 weeks, how can I export also their related lists? Also, if I need to upload them again in SFDC, how can I do it?
    Thanks for your help


    1. Thanks for the comment Gabriel! It depends on how you are exporting the data. If your’re using reports to export the information, be sure to include the related to fields. On data exports, I don’t recall immediately if that related information is contained in the data export. I believe that it is, but it’s been a while since I looked at the data exports itself. When you have record IDs, you’ll be able to upload that information back into Salesforce without any issues. That is part of the concept with the data exports – you would be able to restore information in the system if it was ever lost. I hope that answered your question!


  2. Hi

    I have a quick question “If I like to find which delegated admin are currently actively customizing their orq. Where can an admin find this information.


    1. Use the Setup Audit Trail report to find what customizations are happening in the Setup area of the org. Depending on what the Delegated Admin’s have permission to do, you’ll see all of the modifications made in this report. That will help you decide how (or if) you need to restrict permissions.


  3. Hi Brent, is there any custom way through which we can get Setup Audit trail for more than 6 months? Please let me know if there is any way?


    1. No. If you need to go back more than 6 months, you might want to contact Salesforce Support. My feeling is that they could get you a report, but there may be a cost involved.


  4. Hi Brent,

    I subscribe to your site and am working on becoming a top notch administrator. I like your posts and was wondering if you had the steps to backup data. I see where there are instructions to export the data, but how is it backed up. Please advise.

    Kind regards,


    1. Thanks for subscribing, Karen! Typically, those data exports are stored on a shared drive internally. My employers in the past had shared drives for each department and I was able to save those exports there. They do get quite large so you’ll want to talk with your IT department about the best place to house them. Don’t forget to ensure you know the data retention policies of your org too which may help cut down on the potential storage size. There are some companies that store your backups for you in the cloud, and have one-click backups and restore processes. Cool tools, but they cost a pretty penny!


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