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Improve your disaster recovery planning with the complete backup solution for Salesforce

David Runciman on August 11th 2020


The loss or corruption of your Salesforce data can cause a major disruption to your business, or worse. Every such incident calls for a backup solution that lets you restore both data and metadata quickly and reliably; most will also call for the implementation of an incident response plan, a disaster recovery plan, or both.

Previously, we've looked at the best way to approach restoring your org after data loss, and we've explored what Salesforce teams need from an incident response plan. In this post, we'll turn to disaster recovery planning.

Whereas incident response plans mostly guide you through an incident while it's ongoing, disaster recovery plans help you in the aftermath to restore normal operations. Although different in focus and emphasis, the two kinds of plan are complementary and often implemented together.

Targets for backup and restore performance

A disaster recovery plan needs to set out both how data and metadata should be restored and how well. Your company won't be satisfied if you only manage to restore some of your lost data months after an incident. Successful disaster recovery means restoring all of the data accurately and quickly.

In disaster recovery planning, there are two important targets when it comes to restoring backup data: recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO). It's easiest to think of what these targets mean by imagining a data loss incident. If you discover data loss or corruption, you'll have two questions:

  1. How long since our latest backup? This question is asking about RPO.
  2. How long will it take to restore our backup data? This question is asking about RTO.

Meeting or beating both your RPO and RTO targets is the measure of success in disaster recovery.

Diagram of RPO and RTO times before and after data loss

Recovery point objective (RPO)

RPO relates to the time that has passed since your latest backup when an incident occurs. This length of time needs to be kept as short as possible, as data added to your org during this time hasn't been backed up and will probably be lost entirely. (It can be worth checking your org's recycle bin, of course.)

Increasing the frequency of your backups will allow you to reduce your RPO. Most companies will want an RPO of 24 hours or less, which calls for daily backups. If your team is backing up your org's data and metadata manually, daily backups are a significant drain of time and effort. You can schedule automatic exports of data from Salesforce, but these can be run no more than once per week - and an RPO of one week is unacceptable to most companies.

With Gearset, you can set up a backup job and get daily automated backups. And if you're about to release something risky, you can back up your org on demand at any time. There's no harm in beating RPO targets and reducing the time since your last backup to minutes rather than hours!

Recovery time objective (RTO)

RTO relates to the length of time it takes to restore all lost or corrupted data after an incident. Especially where the lost data is critical to your company's operations, it's imperative for business continuity that data is restored quickly. RTO targets set the maximum amount of time restoring data should take.

RTO targets are more difficult to set than RPO targets because there are several stages to restoring data, each of which can take time. Depending on how you back up your Salesforce data, the restore time may include all of the following:

  • The time that passes before someone notices that data is missing - this can be months!
  • The time taken to assess the damage and plan the restore process
  • The time taken to restore metadata - or to rebuild objects and fields, if metadata hasn't been backed up
  • The time taken to restore data
  • The time taken to restore record relationships, if you're restoring data manually

All of this can amount to a very significant period of disruption, and you'll need to factor in each of these stages if you're trying to work out a realistic RTO for a manual backup and restore process.

The good news is that the time taken by each of these stages can be drastically reduced, or even eliminated. Gearset's configurable smart alerts will notify you immediately if a backup run reveals that unusual amounts of data have been deleted or altered. Gearset shows you exactly what's changed, and then lets you quickly restore metadata and data with the record relationships intact.

Setting up a data backup job in Gearset, with smart alerts

All of this means that you can expect to restore lost or corrupted data the same day you're alerted to the data loss. Adopting more mature DevOps processes will radically improve your performance; high-performing DevOps teams typically restore in under an hour on average.

Of course, each Salesforce org is unique. The best approach is to practice restoring data to a sandbox org, and see how long it takes. Testing your restore process is best practice anyway, as it helps you to optimize your restore performance. But practicing also gives you a good idea of how long it takes to restore your org, helping you to set a realistic RTO target.

Disaster recovery planning for Salesforce

If you want a disaster recovery plan with impressive and realistic RPO and RTO targets, you'll need a complete backup and restore solution for Salesforce. Gearset offers frequent and automated backups, plus a powerful and predictable restore process, allowing you to set and meet ambitious disaster recovery targets.

Disaster recovery planning doesn't have to be a headache! With Gearset, you'll be able to access your data - even if Salesforce goes down - because Gearset is hosted externally. Your data will be stored securely and encrypted in transit and at rest. Gearset's data backup solution also includes tools for compliance with data protection legislation such as the GDPR and CCPA.

Gearset is here to help

With Salesforce recently retiring its data recovery service, lots of teams are deciding on a backup strategy to safeguard their data. Gearset is here to help! If you have any questions about backing up and restoring your Salesforce orgs, reach out to us via the live-chat or email [email protected] You can also book a consultation with one of our experts.

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