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According to the (Salesforce help) page :

Refreshing a sandbox updates the sandbox’s metadata from its source org. If the sandbox is a clone or if it uses a sandbox template, the refresh process updates the org’s data in addition to its metadata.

Is there a more layman definition than this? Like what does sandbox's metadata mean exactly? Does it clear all the configurations built, all records created or both (meaning reset completely to a clean slate)?

Please help me understand.

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During a refresh, what happens is that Salesforce creates a brand new org that contains all of the objects, fields, page layouts, record types, users, and so on that the source org has so that it is visually identical to the source org. This is referred to as the metadata, or simply the "data about data."

All sandbox copies go through this step. Sandboxes that are based on templates, and partial and full copies, also get some or all of the records copied. Records are simply referred to as "data."

As a concrete example, a custom field is metadata; it describes the properties of the field, such as what type of data it can hold, its maximum length, validation rules, and so on. It is data that does not belong to any specific record, but instead describes how specific records are laid out in the database.

In the activation process, Salesforce then takes the brand new org and marks it as the active version of the org, and the old org is flagged for deletion. At some future point in time (usually about 2 days), the old version of the org is permanently deleted from the database.

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Here Metadata means the object, fields and other configuration which we have created in the sandbox and after refresh sandbox, we get a fresh copy of production/other sandbox instance.

you need to activate the sandbox before you can use the refreshed data. Salesforce sends you an email when your sandbox is ready to activate. All configuration and data in the prior sandbox copy will be lost, including any application or data changes you have made and there is no way to recover them back. Your production organization and its data will not be affected.

Salesforce automatically changes sandbox usernames, but not passwords. You need to use Production password to login sandbox.

Newly created sandboxes have the default email deliverability setting System email only. The System email only setting is especially useful for controlling email sent from sandboxes so that testing and development work doesn't send test emails to users.

We have limit here as well

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According to the Salesforce Development Lifecycle Guide: "We recommend that you refresh your sandboxes periodically to ensure that they have current configuration information and data."

You can read more details here

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Refreshing sandbox from any source org, will let you have the same configuration in sandbox as that of the source org, that is, Copy and sandbox's data will be all cleaned (read lost) if the source org doesn't have it. So, we have types of sandboxes, as the SF documentation says: https://help.salesforce.com/articleView?id=data_sandbox_environments.htm&type=5

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You can check all metadata in eclipse or in workbench. Login to workbench, go to info and then click metadata types and components. When you click on Sandbox refresh it will delete existing Sandbox and it’s all data and metadata and create a new Sandbox will replicate same as Production. Hope this info will help you.

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