Data Loader in Salesforce Part 1 – Interview useful concepts and Questions

Table of Contents I
What is Data Loader in Salesforce?
Data loader installation from Salesforce
Important Settings options in Data Loader
Exporting Data from Salesforce Using Data Loader
Pre-requisites for importing data
Importing Data to Salesforce Using Data Loader

In this article, we are looking at all the concepts related to Data Loader as well as tackle top company interview questions during recruitment. Taking into account the ease of learning, we have segregated the article into two parts for I and II Data Management in Salesforce.

data loader

1. What is Data Loader in Salesforce?

Data Loader is a widely used tool provided by Salesforce by which we can process a large number of records at ease, at a minimum of 200 records batch, rather than processing every single record manually. Data Loader supports a load of up to 5 million records, If we need to load more we can use a product from App Exchange.

This tool is widely used in the migration process of legacy (old/previous) systems when the client wants to move to a Salesforce platform from .net / Java / SAP etc.

There are basically 3 real-time requirements at the time of migration.

  1. Reading the environment to have a data entry page/platform
  2. Enlightening the end-users on how to feed in the data from now on, i.e start using the new platform rather than the old system,
  3. Moving the already existing data from the old to the new system. Here the data loader in Salesforce comes into the picture.

Data Loader in Salesforce is free. There are other paid applications available for the deed as in, Jitterbit,, Pentaho, Informatica, etc. Another free tool is the Data Import Wizard.

These tools help move data from sources like excel or CSV to SFDC in bulk. In the case of Data Loader in Salesforce, the fed source file is of CSV type.

Can we use the record type name in the data loader while importing the data?

We cannot use Record Type Name in the data loader to map to a record type, we will need to use RecordTypeId for this purpose.

How to install the required version of Data loader in Salesforce:


Setup >> data management >> data loader ( This will be in ZIP format.)
Extract and wait.

Install Zulu — MSI (not ZIP) — 11 version (if the installation was not done properly, then it will show repair option, else not)
Now in the Data Loader folder extracted from the zip, double-click the install.bat file

Note: If you get an unknown publisher error message, you can ignore it and run the file.

You will find Data Loader installed in your system if all steps are done properly. For more Help on Installation on other platforms than Windows, Refer here.

Important Settings options in Data Loader in Salesforce

Data Loader in Salesforce
Data Loader in Salesforce
Data Loader in Salesforce
This is the window we work on, with Data Loader

2. What is the server host in Data Loader in Salesforce?

It tells whether the Data Loader is going to connect/work on the Sandbox (Developer environment) or Production environment. = (Live) Production environment = (Development) Sandbox

3. What is the Sandbox / Development environment?

This is the environment, where we will be working on any project-building process. This will be not connected to the client environment, so any mistakes here will not be a matter of concern.

4. What is the Production / LIVE environment?

This is the LIVE environment of the client, where the actual business will be running. Mistakes here can affect the 100s/1000s of end-user/clients as this is the ‘real-time’ environment.

5. What is the Batch size in Data Loader Settings?

The number of records that will be processed by Data Loader in Salesforce at a time is called a Batch, i.e. the number of records it should take from the source file on the laptop and load into the Salesforce cloud.

The default value is 200. Max allowed batch size is 10,000.

When the data is loaded in batches, there can be n number of codes and rules running on the data being inserted which might create a load on the CPU. Run-time Error signifies the same and thereby demands to lower the batch size.

In case of a firewall restriction, we need proxy settings to be done as well. For that we have a proxy port, number, username, and password to be fed in the Settings option as well. This is optional in case you get restricted access. You can contact the network engineer for that access.

6. Exporting Data from Salesforce Using Data Loader

Often, clients require you to take back up data for any n number of reasons. Data Loader thereby has an export button, with the following processes after being opted.

1. Logging In to your salesforce platform to export data from.
We have two ways to log in: oAuth and Security Token.

  • oAuth: Using one website login to authorize another. Select the environment and click on Login. Login using the pop-up window.
  • For Security Token method: Paste Password followed by your security token without any spaces. If you don’t know your security token, you can get it mailed to you by logging in to your Salesforce environment from the browser.

Go to your profile and click on Settings > Reset Security Token.

data loader export login

2. Select the Object for data export, and browse the folder to save the data. Ensure the filename is .csv

3. Edit your query: Select the data fields and/or impose conditions for data export. The query is auto-generated based on your selection. Click on Finish!

Data is loaded successfully. It consists of data from custom, standard as well as system fields.

Let us look at some more Interview worthy questions.

7. Why authenticate login?

Data Loader is a Dotnet app. And Salesforce always asks for authentication when we connect from outside.
The same is the case for “integration” when any platform like Java, PHP, etc will try to connect to Salesforce, then they must have a user name, password, and security token.

8. What are the benefits of Export in Data Loader in Salesforce?

It has many benefits in terms of data security :

A. We can take the backup of the data present in Salesforce into the CSV file.
B. We can shift data from 1 location/system to another system via the mode of the file.
C. We can pull data from Salesforce and work on them as per need, avoiding any unwanted data.
D. We can work on data in offline mode.

9. What kind of files does Data Loader in Salesforce support?

ONLY .csv (CSV = comma separated value). It looks like an Excel file.

10. What types of fields do we get when we export any object’s records?

– Standard fields: CreatedBy, Owner, Name, Last Modified By
– Custom fields: Example Price__c

11. What is the difference between Export n Export All?

– ‘Export’ will pull only the “Non deleted” records from SF.
– ‘Export All’ will pull “Non deleted” + “Deleted” records.

In ‘export all’ files, we identify between the records that are deleted one with ones that are not based on ‘IsDeleted’ Column (True/False Value).

Export all is particularly beneficial in banking and financial projects where audit requires both deleted and undeleted data.

12. Pre-requisites for importing data to Salesforce Platform from old Platform

We get in touch with the Team handling the old platform and gain complete knowledge about all columns of the data Table. Remove old platform-specific column data and focus on business data.

Get hold of data in .csv file or excel (rename it to .csv). Rename column names to match the name of respective Salesforce object fields (API name) and save the file.

13. Importing Data to Salesforce Using Data Loader

Step 1. Open Data Loader, click on INSERT,
Step 2. Select the object and browse the file to upload.
Step 3. Map the file field to that in Salesforce objects.
Click on Edit Map. Drag and drop Object fields to the file fields in the pop-up window. If you already changed the names to match the API name as above, you can just click on Auto-match and move forward.
Step 4. Specify a folder for success (having an additional ID and Status Column) and error files and finish.

14. Quering relationship records in Data Loader

We can export parent and their parent attribute values from the Child object up to 5 levels up as we can query foreign key relationships up to 5 levels from the root SObject

But we cannot export child object-related attributes in the data loader. An example is as follows;

Opportunity.Account.Parent.Parent.Parent.Name can be retrieved as : Quote –> Opportunity –> Parent Account –> Parent.Parent.Account

15. What is the batch size in the data loader?

In a single insert, update, upsert, or delete operation, records moving to or from Salesforce are processed in increments of this size. The maximum size is 200 records. The recommended value is between 50 and 100 to stay put to limits. The maximum value is 10,000 if the Use Bulk API option is selected.

16. How To Import MultiSelect Picklist Values Through Data Loader?

Using the apex data loader for inserting or updating multi-select picklist fields, we can have multiple values separated by a semi-colon “;”.

Here we end the first detailed part of Data Management in Salesforce.

In part 2 we are discussing Data Import Wizard, and Data Export, as well as understanding other important concepts of Data Loader in Salesforce.

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