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Can a Full Sandbox be used as a backup to your production environment?

When you start a copy, if changes are still being made in your production environment are these changes also being copied into the sandbox, or does the creation of a sandbox lock down your production environment until it is complete?

  • A full sandbox refresh can take over a week to complete. So no it doesn't lock your production org. – Adrian Larson Feb 10 '17 at 15:11
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The sandbox gets the configuration of the Production environment from the time the sandbox is created as it takes a snapshot of the Metadata at that time. The refresh does not lock the production org.

It is possible to use a sandbox as a Metadata backup, though for data you would need a different strategy as all the types of sandbox that allow data to be included, such as full copy can only be done at an infrequent interval.

Metadata is the configuration information in Salesforce, e.g. objects, page layouts, fields, apex and visualforce code, process builder and flows, workflows, etc.

Intro to metadata documentation

To back up metadata outside Salesforce my favourite tool is the command line interface. It is also possible with any of the Integrated Development Environments such as Eclipse with the Force.com plugin or the Force.com deployment too.

Bob Buzzard has got a couple of useful blog posts on installing and using the CLI to extract metadata for backup and deployment.

  • That's awesome to know! Is it best practice to not make changes in your production org while the sandbox is being created? – AlekP Feb 10 '17 at 15:19
  • What what information does the metadata store? Is it configuration based settings like page layout, tab layout and security? – AlekP Feb 10 '17 at 15:20
  • If you want the sandbox to be an accurate representation of the Production org then I'd say yes. Ideally all change should be done in sandboxes and tested before deployment to production (except maybe reports and dashboards). – Dave Humm Feb 10 '17 at 15:21
  • Added more detail to the answer on metadata. – Dave Humm Feb 10 '17 at 15:23
  • Phenomenal! One last follow-up. What is the process going from Sandbox to Production (ex. I've created a new object, with apex triggers and an associated workflow in Sandbox that I now want to move over to production) – AlekP Feb 10 '17 at 15:28

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