Salesforce Data Loader complete review: Is it still your best option?


    How to use Salesforce Data Loader

    In the world of Salesforce administration, one tool has stood the test of time, aiding admins in their basic data management operations. This is Data Loader, probably one of the most commonly used tools that admins use for mass exports, inserts, updates and upserts. But, like all heroes, it’s not without its limitations. So, as Salesforce administrators, you must ask the crucial question: Is Data Loader still your best option?

    In this article you will find a comprehensive overview of Salesforce Data Loader, covering its main advantages and downsides. It will dig into best practices for using the tool and explore alternative tools that offer a live-data exchange between Salesforce and your favorite spreadsheet. 

    What is Salesforce Data Loader?

    Salesforce Data Loader is a client application for bulk data imports and exports, which allows you to insert, update, delete, or export Salesforce records.

    At its core, Data Loader is designed for the massive transfer of data. When importing data, it reads, extracts, and loads information from comma-separated values (CSV) files or directly from a database connection. On the flip side, when exporting data, it produces neatly organized CSV files.

    This tool is available as a free download from Salesforce and is included as part of the base licensing at no additional cost.

    Pros and Cons of using Salesforce Data Loader


    Salesforce Data Loader offers several advantages for users engaged in data management tasks within the Salesforce platform:

    • Data Loader supports a wide range of operations, including insert, update, delete, and upsert (update or insert). This versatility makes it suitable for various data manipulation scenarios.
    • The tool allows for batch processing, enabling users to work with data in chunks. This is particularly beneficial when dealing with large volumes of records, enhancing efficiency in data handling.
    • Data Loader is a free tool provided by Salesforce, making it accessible to organizations with varying budget constraints.
    • As a widely used tool, Data Loader has an active community of users who share experiences, best practices, and troubleshooting tips, providing valuable support to users.
    • It is a free tool, compared to other paid data loading alternatives that perform similar operations.


    Although Data Loader has been a staple in the arsenal of Salesforce administrators for years, it has its limitations. 

    Data Loader works with data from comma-separated values (CSV) files or from a database connection, this may seem a little outdated, considering other tools in the market that streamline Salesforce data in an almost real-time . When exporting, Data Loader outputs CSV files. This process consume a lot of time and effort from admins, who usually rely on Excel or Google Sheets to manage their data.

    Besides, there are potential challenges and pitfalls that users should be aware of to ensure a smooth data management process. Here are some issues that can arise:

    • Data Format and Structure: Incorrect formatting or structural issues in the CSV file can lead to data import errors. 
    • Missing or Incorrect Headers: The headers in the CSV file must match the field names in Salesforce. If headers are missing or don’t correspond correctly, the import process may not map the data accurately.
    • Field Mapping Issues: Incorrect mapping of fields between the CSV file and Salesforce can result in data being placed in the wrong fields or not being imported at all. 
    • Moreover, one of the notable limitations is its user interface, which, for some, may not be the most intuitive. This can lead to a steeper learning curve for new administrators.

    What is the file limit of Salesforce Data Loader? 

    The file size limit of Salesforce Data Loader is 5 GB. This means that the CSV file you are attempting to upload using Data Loader should not exceed 5 gigabytes in size.

    As per the number of records, Data Loader is supported for loads of up to 5 million records. 


    How to Download and Install Salesforce Data Loader

    Installing Data Loader is Easy: Visit the Salesforce Data Loader download page, where you will find the download link. 

    You can also navigate to the setup menu in Salesforce and head to the Data Loader Tab, where you will find download links both for Windows & Mac. 

    Download the version of Data Loader that matches your operating system (Windows or macOS).

    Install Data Loader on your computer by following the installation instructions.


    How to use Data Loader in Salesforce?

    Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use Salesforce Data Loader once it is installed:

    Step 1: Launch Data Loader

    Open the application on your computer. You’ll be prompted to log in to your Salesforce account.

    Step 2: Log In to Salesforce

    Enter your Salesforce credentials (username and password) to log in.

    Step 3: Select Operation

    Data Loader offers several operations you can perform, such as Insert, Update, Upsert, Delete, Hard Delete, and Export. Choose the operation that matches your data task.

    Insert: Add new records to Salesforce.

    • Update: Modify existing records in Salesforce.
    • Upsert: Insert new records or update existing ones based on a unique external ID.
    • Delete: Remove records from Salesforce.
    • Hard Delete: Permanently delete records from Salesforce (use with caution).
    • Export: Retrieve data from Salesforce.


    Step 4: Select the Object

    Choose the Salesforce object (e.g., Leads, Contacts, Accounts) to which you want to apply the operation. All standard and custom objects will be available in the dropdown list.


    Step 5: Configure CSV File

    Prepare a CSV file that contains the data you want to import, update, or delete. Ensure the CSV file format matches Salesforce’s data structure.

    In Data Loader, click on “Browse” to locate and select the CSV file you prepared.

    Ensure that the CSV file contains column headers that match the Salesforce field names for mapping purposes.


    Step 6: Map Fields to Columns

    Data Loader will attempt to map fields automatically. Review and verify the field mappings to ensure that the columns in your CSV file align with the corresponding Salesforce fields. Make adjustments as needed.


    Step 7: Start the Operation

    Click “Next” to proceed.

    Review the operation summary to confirm that everything is set up correctly.

    Click “Finish” to start the data operation.


    Step 8: Monitor Progress and Review Results

    Data Loader will display a progress bar showing the status of your operation. Once the operation is complete, you’ll receive a detailed success and error log in CSV format. Review these logs to ensure that your data was processed as intended.


    Step 9: Save Your Settings (Optional)

    You can save your settings as a configuration file for future use, streamlining the process if you need to perform similar data tasks.

    That’s it! You’ve successfully used Salesforce Data Loader to manage your data in Salesforce.

    Is Salesforce DataLoader the best API for bulk import and export?

    Salesforce Data Loader is a good tool for bulk import and export tasks within the Salesforce ecosystem, and it is widely used by administrators and users alike. However, it may not be the best fit for every use case, and there are other tools that might better suit the needs of Salesforce administrators. 

    Some reasons why Data Loader may not fit your needs might be:

    • If your data import or export tasks involve complex data transformations or require data manipulation beyond basic insert, update, upsert, and delete operations.
    • More advanced automation and scheduling capabilities may be required for regular, repetitive data management tasks. In such cases, you might need to explore third-party tools.
    • Data Loader has a straightforward but somewhat technical interface. Admins may be more comfortable with a user-friendly interface or managing their data directly from the spreadsheets they are used to working on.
    • For very high volumes of data, you may need a tool that’s better optimized for performance. Third-party data integration tools can provide better scalability and performance for such scenarios.

    In summary, while Salesforce Data Loader is a valuable and widely used tool for bulk import and export tasks, it’s essential to evaluate your specific requirements and consider alternative solutions. Especially if you need to import and export data frequently, there are tools which will save you from the hassle of dealing with CSV files and which will let you schedule operations, optimizing efficiency.

    Salesforce mass update with csv file

    Some alternatives to Salesforce Data Loader

    There are great Salesforce data management add-ins that can save you time and effort while increasing your team’s productivity, that skip all the csv hassle altogether. These are Xappex’s connectors, the Excel and Google Sheets-integrated solutions that are here to transform your data game.

    XL-Connector, XL-Connector 365, and G-Connector are your gateway to a world of efficiency. Bulk importing and exporting data between Excel or Google Sheets and Salesforce has never been easier, thanks to these powerful tools.

    As their names suggest, they are specifically designed for users who prefer working with Excel or Google Sheets. They provide a seamless integration between Salesforce and the spreadsheets, making it easier for users to manage and manipulate data in their favorite spreadsheet software and then sync it with Salesforce.

    Enhancing Salesforce admins data management

    Data manipulation

    Xappex products offer more advanced features compared to Data Loader, such as data manipulation, transformation, and reporting capabilities directly within your spreadsheets. You will be able to pull data from Salesforce, work on it on your sheet and push it back within minutes. This means having all the amazing tools Excel and Google Sheets available at the tip of your fingers, without having to deal with CSV files!

    Automation and scheduling

    What’s more, Xappex’s XL-Connector 365 and G-Connector offer the opportunity to run automatic operations, even if you are offline. Imagine a magic wand effortlessly synchronizing your spreadsheets with Salesforce. This enchanting process goes both ways: like a conductor harmonizing a symphony, it gracefully pulls reports and SOQL queries from Salesforce and places the data into your sheet. Just as gracefully, it retrieves data from your sheet, then choreographs mass Insert, Update, Upsert, or Delete operations against Salesforce—all seamlessly orchestrated through pre-defined mappings and settings.

    In Summary, here is a comparative chart of the basic functionalities for both Salesforce Data Loader and Xappex tools:

    Salesforce Data Loader and Xappex comparison table

    Generated by wpDataTables

    Salesforce Data Loader vs Xappex: What is the best alternative?

    We already know what Data Loader and Xappex can do, so lets dive into various examples of both tools daily use, to understand their overall performance and effectiveness in managing data.  Through this comparative analysis, we seek to provide insights into optimizing data handling practices within Salesforce.

    Date format for Salesforce Data Loader 

    Salesforce Data Loader uses the CSV file format for data import, and it is important to ensure that the date values in the CSV file are formatted correctly to avoid errors during the import process. The standard date format recognized by Salesforce is “YYYY-MM-DD” (Year-Month-Day). For DateTime fields, it’s even more complicated:, for example:  2011-08-12T20:17:46.384Z

    Make sure that the date format in your CSV file aligns with this standard. If your date format differs, you may encounter errors during the data import.

    The Xappex alternative for date formats:

    Xappex products automatically convert any recognizable date and datetime format to the format accepted by Salesforce, also adjusting for time zone and summer savings time, so most of the time uploading of dates and times does not require any additional effort.

    Dynamic parameters for incoming data

    When importing data from Salesforce directly into Excel or Google Sheets, with Xappex products, you have an option to use data in the spreadsheets as filters for the imported data. For example, you can have the owner name typed into a cell, and Xappex tools will use it to pull only records that belong to that owner. All types of filters are supported.

    Adding products to Opportunity with Salesforce Data Loader 

    Adding products to an Opportunity in Salesforce using Salesforce Data Loader involves several steps. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

    1. Prepare Your Data: Ensure you have a CSV file with the products you want to add to the Opportunity. The CSV file should contain the necessary information, including the Opportunity ID, Product Name, Quantity, Price, and any other relevant fields.
    2. Log in to Salesforce Data Loader: Launch Salesforce Data Loader on your computer. Enter your Salesforce username and password to log in.
    3. Select Operation: In Salesforce Data Loader, select the operation you want to perform. For adding products to an Opportunity, choose the “Insert” operation.
    4. Select Object: Choose the Salesforce object you are working with. In this case, select “Opportunity Product (OpportunityLineItem)” 
    5. Select CSV File: Click on “Browse” to select your CSV file containing the product data.
    6. Mapping Fields:Map the fields in your CSV file to the corresponding fields in Salesforce. You’ll need to map fields like Opportunity ID, Product Name, Quantity, Price, etc.
    7.  Insert Options: Configure the insert options, such as whether to perform a hard or soft commit. A hard commit immediately commits the data, while a soft commit allows for a rollback if there are errors.
    8. Execute Insert: Click on “Next” to proceed, and then click “Finish” to initiate the data insert operation.

    Now, if you’d like to skip the process of creating a CSV file and work directly from your spreadsheets, Xappex’s tools are your best companions. 

    How to add products to Opportunity with Xappex’s Tools

    With XL-Connector, XL-Connector 365 and G-Connector, adding products to Opportunities is much simpler. You’ll just need to follow these steps:

    • Connect to Salesforce:

    In Excel or Google Sheets, you should have a tab or ribbon for XL-Connector, XL-Connector 365 or G-Connector. Click on it, and choose the “Log in” option.

    Log in to your Salesforce account using your Salesforce credentials. 

    • Input Product Data:

    Input the product details, such as Product Name, Opportunity Name, Quantity, Price, etc. Map the column with product names to the Product2Id field and the column with Opportunity names – to OpportunityId field, this will add corresponding products to the right opportunities. Map the quantity and price columns to the respective fields.

    • Sync Data:

    Once you have populated your worksheet with product data, use the Insert All or Insert Selected command on the OpportunityLineItem object to create the required Opportunity Products.

    Xappex’s connectors simplify the process of working with Salesforce data within Excel or Google Sheets, making it an efficient way to manage and update your Salesforce records, including Opportunities and their associated products. They will automatically link records based on record name or any other text field as long as that field contains unique values.


    How to automate Data Loader for Salesforce

    Automating Data Loader for Salesforce involves scheduling and configuring Data Loader jobs to run at specified intervals without manual intervention. Salesforce Data Loader is often used for tasks like data imports, updates, or exports, and automating these processes can help streamline your data management. Here’s how to automate Data Loader:

    1. Create a Mapping File (for Data Inserts/Updates): If you’re automating data inserts or updates, create a mapping file (CSV) that defines the mapping between your source data and Salesforce fields. This file should be ready and saved in a location that Data Loader can access.
    2. Batch File (Optional): You can create a batch file or script to automate the Data Loader process. This batch file can be used to execute Data Loader jobs.
    3. Use Command Line or Task Scheduler: On a Windows system, you can use the Task Scheduler to run Data Loader jobs automatically at specified intervals. Here’s how:
    • Open the Windows Task Scheduler.
    • Create a new task.
    • In the task settings, specify the action to run a program.
    • Point the program/script to the Data Loader executable (e.g., “C:\Program Files (x86)\\Data Loader\bin\process.bat”).
    • In the “Add arguments (optional)” field, specify the operation and the configuration file for your Data Loader job.
    • Set the schedule (daily, weekly, etc.) and time for the task to run.
    • Configure any other settings as needed.

    How to automate and schedule with Xappex

    Automating Salesforce data loads with Xappex are on a completely different level. As Excel 365 and Google Sheets live in the cloud, Xappex is capable to establish a live connection between a specific workbook and Salesforce and sync the data on the user’s terms: whether it’s automatic import/export up to every 5 minutes, instant sync, or a series of Import/Export operations triggered directly from a Salesforce record page.

    Please reach out to to learn more about how Xappex can automate interactions between Salesforce and your spreadsheet of choice.


    Command Line Data Loader in Salesforce

    • Data Loader Command Line is a feature of Salesforce Data Loader that allows users to perform data operations, such as data imports, exports, updates, and deletions, via the command line interface (CLI) instead of the user interface.
    • Data Loader Command Line allows users to interact with Data Loader using text-based commands entered in a command prompt or terminal window. 

    You can perform various data operations using the command line, including insert, update, upsert, delete, and data export. These operations can be executed from the command line, each with its own set of parameters and options. It is important to note that there’s no command line support for macOS.

     To use Data Loader Command Line, you need to create a configuration file that contains information about the operation you want to perform, including Salesforce connection details, source file information, mapping, and any specific settings. 

    Data Loader Command Line is often used in batch mode, where you can schedule operations to run at specific times or in response to triggers. This makes it suitable for automating routine data synchronization.

    Data Loader Command Line is a powerful tool for Salesforce administrators and developers who need to automate data processes, perform bulk data operations, and integrate Salesforce with other systems efficiently and in a controlled manner. 


    In summary, although Data Loader is widely used and overall a great tool for basic operations, it may be a best fit for a one time use, however, the csv hassle, manual manipulation and error checkup of data consume too much time and effort for Salesforce admins who daily handle data. Xappex tools automation, a near-live sync of Salesforce data to a Spreadsheet and great data and metadata manipulation functionalities make them a better option.


    What makes XL-Connector, XL-Connector 365 and G-Connector the best data loaders for Salesforce?

    Let’s look at some of the reasons why Xappex connectors may be considered a better fit:

    1. User Interface and Ease of Use: Xappex tools have more intuitive and user-friendly interfaces, making them easier to navigate for users, regardless of their technical expertise. 
    2. Advanced Features: XL-Connector, XL-Connector 365 and G-Connector offer more advanced features and functionalities that cater to a broader range of data management needs. These include scheduling and automation options that surpass what the native tools offer.
    3. Custom Object Support: Xappex tools provide better support for custom objects within Salesforce, allowing users to manage data related to both standard and custom objects more effectively.
    4. Data Transformation: Users find that Xappex connectors have more powerful data transformation and mapping capabilities, enabling them to perform complex data manipulations with greater ease.
    5. Scalability: Xappex connectors for Excel and Google Sheets handle large data volumes more efficiently, making them a preferred choice for users with extensive data management needs.
    6. Customer Support: Xappex typically offers dedicated customer support, ensuring that users have access to assistance when they encounter issues or have questions about their tools. We will also help you build a solution to your use case in a one-on-one session.

    If you would like to know more about these tools and get a 30-day free trial period with all the functionality, visit this product’s profile in AppExchange, where you can also read all the amazing reviews from current users.


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    Florencia Mouriz

    Florencia Mouriz

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