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The data loader is a tool that allows users to upload records in bulk to their Salesforce environment. Users can choose between a wizard type of interface or for more technical people the command-line interface. Files are simply mapped via dragging and dropping and the data loader allows users to upload bulk data to any objects no matter if it’s standard or custom.Unlike most Salesforce features, the data loader has to be downloaded locally to your desktop to be used (Available for both Windows & Mac).


Data loader vs. web-based import wizard?

Salesforce offers you multiple ways to get your data into the system. Let’s take a closer look when which way is the most recommended. If you are loading less than 50.000 records you probably want to upload data using the import wizard. This however means that the object you want to upload the data too needs to be supported by the import wizard .(You can use the Data Import Wizard to import accounts, contacts, leads, solutions, campaign members, person accounts, and custom objects). A quick way to check which import wizards are out there simply enter ‘Data Management’ in the quick find box under support. If you however have a big amount of records, and by big we mean really big like up to five million you will need to use the data loader. The data loader is also your friend and go-to tool to upload records if you want to upload them to an object that isn’t yet supported by an import wizard. And finally, if you want to schedule regular data uploads you’ll need to use the data loader as well.
Installing & Functions:

The Salesforce Data Loader can be installed by navigating to the setup menu in Salesforce, and heading to the Data Loader tab, here you will find download links both for Windows & Mac. Once installed, you will be greeted by a screen that looks like the below, simple right? As mentioned, the Data Loader is very simple and easy to use, but you must ensure that you know what you’re doing or the results can be disastrous (There’s no going back from changing or deleting a bunch of records without a backup!).


There are 7 main functions you can carry out with the Data Loader, let’s look into the function of each one…
  • Insert – Gives you the ability to insert new records into Salesforce
  • Update – Enables you to make changes to existing records inside of Salesforce
  • Upsert – Combines the above options, updates a record if it already exists, or if not, inserts it
  • Delete – Deletes records from the system
  • Hard Delete – While the delete option stores information in the Recycle Bin for a limited period, Hard Delete will remove straight away
  • Export – Export information from the system into a CSV format
  • Export All – While Export only extracts “live” records, Export All will also remove anything that is in the recycle bin as well as anything that has been archived (Some records are archived after a period of time such as tasks)
Salesforce Data Loader Step-by-Step Guide:

Please follow the steps below to gain a hands on experience in using data loader. Starting with data loader could be time taking. Use the tips in the below figure to get a jump start.

  • In order to now finally get data into your environment open the data loader and choose what you want to do.
  • You can click insert, update, upsert, delete or hard delete (the deleted records will not be stored in the recycle bin) based on what you want to do.
  • Then you’ll need to enter your salesforce username and password to login.
  • After you’ve logged in you will need to choose an object to which you want to upload the data. So if you want to insert account records, you choose accounts, if you want to upload leads, you choose leads.
  • If the object you want to upload the data too doesn’t show up in the list you can check from show all objects to see a list of all objects available.
  • Once you selected the object, click browse to select the CSV file
  • Then you’ll only need to click ‘Next’ and the CSV upload will start once you click ‘OK’.
  • If you decided to upsert data, your file needs to contain a column that acts as ID for the records. In other words a column in the CSV file against which the tool checks in the system.
  • This column can be an external ID (a custom field called External ID) or the Salesforce record ID.
  • Select which field to use for matching and click next to continue.
  • While you are using the data loader you also need to define how the columns in your CSV file map to your Salesforce fields.
  • You can use an existing mapping system or create a new way to map the records.
  • Lastly you will need to hit Finish and yes to confirm.
After using the data loader you will see a window that summaries your results such as how many new records created, updated or deleted, depending on what you were doing.

The Salesforce Data Loader is a very powerful tool that is used in almost every Salesforce implementation around the world. Understanding the tool as an Admin, Developer or a Consultant is a must if you wish to get certified and have the best tools at your disposal for a job. The Salesforce Data Loader isn’t the only tool out there to load data into Salesforce, but its very reliable and free of use.

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