by Vanessa Munzert, Salesforce Consultant | Sep 1, 2023
What Is and Why Should You Use a Salesforce Sandbox?
Salesforce, the world’s premier Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform, is a powerful tool that can be customized to specific business needs. In most businesses, our work and technical requirements are ever-changing. So, how do you adapt to the changes in your customer relationship and project management needs without interrupting the flow of business?
How do you develop and test changes in a Salesforce org without risking work stoppages? Where can you lead low-stakes end-user training without changing your production data? What is the best way to take new features on a test drive?
The answer is— Salesforce Sandboxes!
A Salesforce Sandbox environment is a risk-free place to test new integrations, apex code, and automation outside the production organization.
At The CRM Firm, we strongly suggest developing and configuring new third-party applications, automation, and integrations within a sandbox first for thorough testing and validation prior to impacting your production account.
Let’s look at the various types of Salesforce Sandboxes, advantages, best practices, and more!
Salesforce Sandbox Types
All Salesforce editions get free developer sandboxes, but there are costs associated with other types of Salesforce Sandboxes, and pricing for sandboxes is not fixed and depends on your edition.
New sandboxes can be created from the setup menu in the production environment. It can take anywhere from a few minutes for Developer Sandboxes to a full day (or more) for a Full Copy Sandbox to ‘spin’ up.
A Developer Sandbox is a copy of the configuration (metadata) of the production environment and has a refresh interval of 1 day. A refresh interval refers to how often the Sandbox can be refreshed to match the production org.
This type of sandbox is ideal for development and testing by a single developer in an isolated environment. There is limited file and data storage (200 MB each) for testing functionality with limited data.
Developer sandboxes are free and you can have up to 15 Developer Sandboxes at a time.
Developer Pro Sandbox
A Developer Pro Sandbox is very similar to a developer sandbox, but there is more file and data storage, 1 GB of each, to allow for more development and testing. The refresh interval is still one day.
Partial Copy Sandbox
A Partial Copy Sandbox is a copy of a production org’s configuration and a sample of the actual data defined by a Sandbox template.
A Sandbox template defines the objects and data that will be copied into the Sandbox and is used to limit the size and content. A Partial Sandbox can be refreshed every five days and each Enterprise Salesforce database receives 1 free Partial Sandbox.
Full Copy Sandbox
A Full Copy Sandbox replicates the production environment, which means you get all your configuration and data.
A Full Sandbox is the best environment for complete performance testing before you deploy changes to your production instance. Full Copy Sandboxes can be refreshed every 29 days.
Full Sandboxes come with an annual fee. Contact The CRM Firm to assist you in understanding the cost and need for a Full Sandbox
Advantages of Full Salesforce Sandboxes
Since a Full sandbox replicates a production org, users and developers can test real-world scenarios by simulating interactions and workflows, ensuring smooth functionality in various scenarios.
A Full Sandbox allows for testing complex configurations and customizations in a realistic environment and helps to identify unexpected bugs and perform quality assurance before deployment. User acceptance testing can be performed in a familiar environment with a real data set. Since it’s isolated from the production org, essential data won’t be lost or changed while testing.
Multiple developers can work simultaneously in individual Developer Sandboxes and combine their changes into a Full Sandbox, encouraging efficient teamwork and collaboration.
Best Practices for Salesforce Sandboxes
The first step to a successful deployment for new Salesforce development is to decide which type of Salesforce Sandbox makes the most sense for your company.
A refresh strategy should be employed to ensure that the sandboxes are kept up to date. All the quality assurance testing in the world won’t matter if the testing environment isn’t current and doesn’t match the production org.
Another important consideration is protecting sensitive data in your Partial Copy Sandboxes and Full Copy Sandboxes. Limit sensitive data and customer data in your Sandbox using a sandbox template or protect it through data masking and anonymization.
Keep track of all the changes made while developing in a Sandbox so everything necessary can be deployed to another Sandbox for further testing or production org. Keeping track of changes as they are made will save time and eliminate the need to hunt for what was changed ahead of deployment.
Meticulous planning and communication are essential for smooth deployments. Ensure there is a clear plan ahead of any development, and all involved parties are kept informed.
Salesforce Sandboxes allow developers to experiment, innovate, and customize without changing anything in a live production org. Developing in any of the different types of Sandbox will lower your risk because they are all isolated from your production org.
Full Copy Sandboxes allow for the most realistic quality assurance and full load testing because they are an exact replica of your production environment. Using a Salesforce Sandbox (or sandboxes) and following best practices will ensure that customization deployments are smooth and efficient.
If you have questions about setting up Salesforce Sandboxes in your org, or would like to discuss employing a team to implement the hard work for you, reach out here.