Salesforce Training

How to Extract Data From Salesforce CRM

December 12, 2018

How to Extract Data From Salesforce CRM

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Salesforce Basics   •   Extract Data

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As part of our ‘Learn Salesforce Basics’ series, let’s start with how to extract data from Salesforce, which is a key piece of information to know, especially if you’re implementing Pardot yourself and you need to trigger the initial sync.

Why extract data from Salesforce?

  1. To backup your data.
  2. So you can integrate with a third-party system.
  3. You need the data in spreadsheet format for reporting purposes.

An introduction to extracting data 

Extracting data from Salesforce can either be a manual or automatic process and will always be in a CSV file format.

You have three options to choose from to correctly export your data and each has their own merits and balance between budget, complexity, and versatility. In the same way that you can walk into a hardware shop and see various tools suited to different tasks, some days you need a hammer, other days you need a sledgehammer.

Below are the three different ways you can go about exporting your data from Salesforce.

Your 3 options:

  1. Use the free functionality within Salesforce or download free tools 
  2. Invest in paid tools for better efficiency and mass data handling
  3. Build your own tools to export data exactly how you need to see and use it

Option 1: Salesforce functionality and free tools

This means using Open Source tools from Appexchange, or those provided by Salesforce built-in options. If you are working on a tight budget or don’t have a huge volume of records to export, this could be the best way for you to extract data.

Extract reports using Salesforce built-in functionality

This is the simplest option to create a report and then export the data as a CSV file. When viewing a report:

  1. Click the ‘Export Details’ button
  2. Choose ‘Comma Delimited .csv’ as the export file format
  3. Click the ‘Export’ button

Salesforce Report Export

Mass export using the Salesforce Data Export tool

The other way to mass export data to CSV is to use the Salesforce Data Export tool. Mainly used as a data backup service, here you can schedule to have some or all of your objects exported to individual CSV files to download in a ZIP file. The user who schedules the export will get an email with the link of that file which is downloadable.

  1. Click on ‘Setup’
  2. Enter ‘Data Export’ in the Quick Find box, then select ‘Data Export’ and ‘Export Now’ or ‘Schedule Export’.
    1. The ‘Export Now’ option prepares your files for export immediately. This option is only available if enough time has passed since your last export.
    2. The ‘Schedule Export’ option allows you to schedule the export process for weekly or monthly intervals.
  3. Select the proper encoding for your export file.
  4. Select options for images, documents, attachments, so that these will be included in your data.
  5. Select ‘Replace carriage returns with spaces’ to have spaces instead of carriage returns or line breaks in your export files. This is useful if you plan to use your export files for importing or other integrations.
  6. If you’re scheduling your export, select the frequency (only available for organizations with monthly exports), start and end dates, and time of day for your scheduled export.
  7. Under ‘Exported Data’, select the types of data to include in your export. We recommend that you select ‘Include all data’ if you’re not familiar with the terminology used for some of the types of data.
  8. Click ‘Start Export’ or ‘Save’.

Salesforce Data Export step 1
Salesforce Data Export step 2 Saleforce Data Export Step 3

Saleforce Data Export Step 4

Salesforce will generate a zip archive of CSV files and will email you when they are ready. Exports will complete as soon as possible, however, Salesforce doesn’t give the exact date and time the export will complete.

Tools you can download to extract data from Salesforce

Salesforce Data Loader

Salesforce Data Loader is a good tool for someone needing to import or export data to/from Salesforce in CSV file format. This tool is developed and supported by Salesforce.

To download the tool, in Salesforce navigate to ‘Setup’ > ‘Data Management’ > ‘Data Loader’.

Salesforce Data Loader provides the user with a nice interface to pick the object, fields and criteria for the data you want to export, or write your own SOQL query.

Salesforce Data Loader



This tool has a user interface for selecting the object, fields and criteria, or you can write your own SOQL query.



This is another web-based suite of tools designed for administrators and developers to interact with Salesforce via the Force.com APIs.

Salesforce Workbench Step 1

Salesforce Workbench Step 2

Salesforce Workbench Step 3

Option 2: Paid tools

Here are two paid tools we recommend if you find the free options are too limiting. They can be more efficient for mass data export and import.

  1. Enabler 4 Excel
  2. X-Author by Apptus

Option 3: Build your own tool 

Using Apex and Visualforce code, you can build your own tool so you can extract and use data exactly how you need to. Of course, this requires a developer guru so consider your IT and web resource before taking this route.

The correct way to extract data from Salesforce is dependent on your business; your budget, your reporting requirements, the volume of data you need to extract etc.

If you need support with your Salesforce CRM, feel free to get in touch and we can put you in contact with one of our trusted Salesforce marketing partners. 

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Anurag Gautam

Anurag is a certified Salesforce consultant with Salesforce CRM experience in software consultant/development. He is focused on green-field CRM rollouts for large enterprises.

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