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Salesforce Data Import

Salesforce Data Import

What You’ll Learn

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Data management in Salesforce deals with the Import/Export(including deletion) of data or records to/from a Salesforce organization. Importing data into Salesforce can be quickly done through various tools provided by Salesforce. Supported data sources include any program that can save data in the comma-delimited text format (.csv).

The practice of collecting, using, and protecting your customer and business information securely, efficiently, and cost-effectively is also a part of Data management. It involves various activities, from importing and exporting data to ensuring its accuracy and compliance with regulations. In this part, we will understand the Data Import in Salesforce.

What is Data Import in Salesforce?

Data import in Salesforce refers to bringing information from external sources into your Salesforce platform. This can be done in various ways and serves as a crucial step for populating your Salesforce with valuable data to run reports, personalize experiences, and automate processes.

There are 3 operations possible while Importing Data in Salesforce:

  1. Insert: It simply creates new records in Salesforce.
  2. Update: It modifies existing records in Salesforce with the help of a record ID or external ID.
  3. Upsert: It is a combination of insert and update. It modifies the existing records and if the record is not present in the org, it creates a new record for it with a new Record ID.

Primary Tools For Importing Data in Salesforce

You can easily import external data into Salesforce. Supported data sources should include any program to save data in the comma-delimited text format (.csv).

Salesforce offers two main methods for importing data:

1. Data Import Wizard in Salesforce

You can easily access the Data Import Wizard through the Setup menu (In the Quick Find Box, type “Data Import Wizard”). It lets us import data in 5 standard objects, such as contacts, leads, Campaign Members, and accounts, and data in custom objects.

  1. Import of up to 50,000 records is allowed at a time.
  2. It offers an intuitive interface for configuring settings, data sources, and field mappings for importing, which associate field names in your import file (usually.csv) with Salesforce org field names.

2. Data Loader in Salesforce

Data Loader is a 3rd-party client application that can import up to five million records of any data type at a time, either from files or a database connection.

  1. It can be operated either through the user interface or the command line.
  2. In the latter case, you need to specify data sources, field mappings, and other parameters via configuration files.
  3. This makes it possible to automate the import process, using API calls.
  4. Use it when you want to save.

3. Dataloader.io In Salesforce

Dataloader.io allows you to import, export, or delete (as well as hard delete) bulk data in a few simple steps. Featuring a more robust engine than import wizards, you can use it to insert, update, delete, export, or upsert Salesforce records for both standard and custom objects. The free edition of Dataloader.io allows up to 10,000 monthly records, and the file size limit is 10 MB.

Here are a few things to note:

  1. Campaign Members, Accounts, Contacts, Leads, Solutions, and all the custom objects can only be imported through the Data Import Wizard. In contrast, Data Loader imports all custom and standard objects.
  2. With both methods, the number of records you can import depends on your permissions, the type of data you’re importing, and the overall data storage limits for your organization.
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Salesforce Data Import Methods Comparison

Look at some key differences between the various Data Import methods in Salesforce.


Data Import Wizard

Data Loader


Salesforce Edition supported

All Except Personal and Database.com Editions

Enterprise, unlimited, Performance, developer, and Database.com Editions


The number of records that can be imported 

up to 50000 records

up to 5 million records

Varies by dataloader.io plan

Catches duplicates




Export data




Import data





5 Standard objects and all custom object

All Standard and custom objects.

All Standard and custom objects

Note:  Data Loader provides functionality to delete records in bulk using CSV files. It deletes records using the record ID of the records.

Essential Considerations When Importing Data Into Salesforce

This information can help you integrate your imported data into Salesforce.

1. New Values For Picklists And Multi-Select Picklists

Suppose our import file contains data to be displayed in picklists or multi-select picklists. In that case, the wizard warns when you attempt to import a new picklist value that does not match any valid ones in case restricted picklist options are checked.

If you ignore the warning, the new value is automatically added to the imported record. Still, it will not be added to the defined picklist. You can later edit the field to add the necessary values.

2. Multi-Select Picklists

To import multiple values into a multi-select picklist, separate the values by a semicolon in your import file.

3. Checkboxes

To import data into a checkbox field, the user has to use 1 for checked values, 0 for unchecked values, and True for checked and False for lawless.

4. Default Values

For picklist, multi-select picklist, and checkbox fields, if you do not map the field in the import wizard, the default value for the field, if any, is automatically inserted into the new or updated record.

5. Date/Time Fields

Ensure that the format of any date/time fields you import matches how they display in Salesforce per your locale setting.

6. Formula Fields

Formula fields cannot accept imported data because they are read-only.

7. Field Validation Rules and Lookup Filters

Salesforce runs validation rules on records before they are imported. Records that fail validation aren’t imported. Consider deactivating the appropriate validation rules before running an import if they affect the records you are importing.

Lookup Filters are also applied while importing the data. Records with Relationship field values that fail to meet the criteria of the Lookup Filter will not get inserted. 

8. Universally Required Fields

You must include universally required fields in your import files otherwise the import will fail.

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