The Complete Guide to Salesforce Database Management

The Complete Guide to Salesforce Database Management

On January 25, 2024, Posted by , In Salesforce Apex Tutorial, With Comments Off on The Complete Guide to Salesforce Database Management
Database Methodsin Salesforce Apex
Database Methods in Salesforce Apex

Table of Content

What is Database?

A database is like a digital filing cabinet where we store, organize, and manage information. This information is arranged in a structured way so that it can be quickly accessed, managed, and updated. The tool that helps us do this is called a Database Management System (DBMS).

Think of a DBMS as the librarian of a huge digital library. Just like a librarian, the DBMS helps ensure that the data (like books in a library) is stored properly and can be easily found when needed. To interact with a database, we use specific languages, the most common being Structured Query Language (SQL). SQL allows us to create, retrieve, update, and delete data in the database efficiently.

What is Salesforce Database?

Salesforce Database, part of the Salesforce platform, is a powerful, cloud-based database solution designed for Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and enterprise applications. It leverages a multi-tenant architecture, providing a secure, scalable environment for data storage and retrieval. This database supports complex business logic, extensive data relationships, and robust APIs for integration.

Known for its user-friendly interface, Salesforce Database enables organizations to manage sales, marketing, customer service, and business analytics data efficiently. Its flexibility and comprehensive feature set make it an integral part of the Salesforce ecosystem, driving personalized customer experiences and data-driven decision-making.

Data Modeling Components in Salesforce

  • Objects
  • Fields and Records
  • Relationships
  • Schema Builder

Objects: Your Data Containers

In Salesforce, think of objects as the fundamental containers where all your data is stored. Each object in Salesforce can be compared to a file cabinet in an office environment—organized, labeled, and designed for specific types of information. These objects are critical as they structure all the data you work with, such as details about your customers, sales, interactions, and more.

Just as a well-organized filing cabinet ensures you can quickly find any document you need, properly set up Salesforce objects ensure that data is easily accessible, manageable, and secure within your Salesforce environment. This organization is key to leveraging Salesforce’s powerful capabilities, allowing you to retrieve, analyze, and manipulate data efficiently.

These ‘boxes’ or objects are of three kinds:

  • Standard Objects: These are the boxes that Salesforce has already labeled and filled with common business essentials like ‘Account’ for customer companies and ‘Contact’ for individuals at those companies. They come ready to use right out of the box.
  • Custom Objects: Sometimes, your business needs a special box for things that don’t fit into the standard ones. For example, a bookstore might need an ‘Orders’ object to keep track of book sales. You can create these custom objects to store unique data relevant to your business.
  • External Objects: Imagine if some of your files were stored off-site, but you still needed a way to access them easily from your office. External objects allow Salesforce to connect to data stored outside of Salesforce, like in another database, making that data accessible and usable just like data stored within Salesforce.

Fields and Records: What’s Inside the Boxes

Each object or box contains files, which in Salesforce are represented as fields and records:

  • Fields: These are like the different types of information you might store on a file label—such as a person’s name, their phone number, or the price of an item. Salesforce fields can be as simple as checkboxes or as complex as formula fields, which calculate values automatically based on other data.
  • Records: Each record is like an individual file within your box. It’s a single, complete set of field labels filled out with specific data. For example, in an ‘Account’ object, each record would represent a different company, with fields providing details like the company’s name, address, and phone number.


Think of an office where each department keeps its own records, like contracts, client files, and employee details. Sometimes, one file references another—for instance, a contract may include references to specific clients and project managers. In Salesforce, we establish similar connections between different types of data, or “objects,” which help different pieces of data relate to and interact with each other.

In this system, just as a contract file might direct you to a client file for more detailed information, Salesforce objects can be linked so that data in one object can easily reference and pull information from another. This setup not only helps in organizing data efficiently but also ensures that relevant information is easily accessible, enhancing the flow of data across different areas of the business. These relationships transform isolated data points into a well-connected network, much like a well-organized filing system in an efficient office.

Lookup Relationships

Imagine you have a reference card tucked inside a file that points you to another related file in a different box. Lookup relationships work similarly. They create a link between two objects, but this link doesn’t create a dependency. For instance, if you have an ‘Invoice’ object with a lookup relationship to a ‘Customer’ object, you can find all invoices related to a specific customer. However, deleting the customer record doesn’t automatically delete the invoices; the relationship simply helps you connect the data when needed.

Master-Detail Relationships

This type of relationship is like having a key document, such as a project charter, with various sub-documents like contracts and reports attached to it. If the key document (the master) is removed, all attached documents (details) must also be removed because they don’t make sense without the main document. In Salesforce, if you delete a master record, all detail records are automatically deleted. This setup is useful for cases where the existence of detail records is entirely dependent on their master.

Hierarchical Relationships

Consider an organizational chart pinned on your office wall, which clearly shows the reporting lines within your company. Hierarchical relationships in Salesforce are similar but are used within the same object to outline a hierarchy. For example, in an ‘Employee’ object, this relationship can show who reports to whom, creating a clear structure of authority and reporting within the system. This is particularly useful for managing user roles and relationships within the company, such as managing employee-manager relationships directly within Salesforce.

Schema Builder: Your Organizational Map

The Schema Builder is a powerful visual tool that acts like a floor plan of your office’s filing system. It shows how all the boxes (objects) are arranged and how they’re connected. With it, you can easily move boxes around, add new ones, or draw lines between them to show relationships, all without touching any real data. This makes planning and changes easier and helps everyone understand the system layout at a glance.

Keys in Salesforce Database

In the Salesforce database, keys play a crucial role in identifying and managing records, ensuring data integrity, and establishing relationships between different objects. The two primary types of keys used are:

Record ID (Salesforce ID)

The Record ID, often referred to as the Salesforce ID, is a unique identifier assigned to every record in Salesforce. It ensures that each record can be uniquely identified and accessed.

This ID is auto-generated by Salesforce and is composed of 18 characters, a mix of uppercase letters and numbers. The first 15 characters are case-sensitive, and the last 3 characters are a case-insensitive encoding of the first 15 characters, making the ID case-safe.

The Salesforce ID is pivotal for data integration processes, as it serves as the primary means of record identification when records are being updated, deleted, or linked with external systems.

Foreign Keys

Foreign keys in Salesforce are used to establish and maintain relationships between different objects. They are essentially fields in an object that refer to the Record ID of another object, thereby linking the two objects.

For instance, in a Master-Detail relationship, the detail object will have a foreign key field that holds the Record ID of the associated master object. This connection allows for the creation of hierarchical data structures and ensures data consistency across related objects.

Foreign keys are crucial for maintaining data integrity and for performing operations that involve multiple related objects, such as data retrieval, reporting, and complex data analytics.

How to Manage Data Transfer in the Salesforce Database?

Managing data transfer in the Salesforce database involves the careful movement, integration, and synchronization of data between Salesforce and other systems. This process is crucial for maintaining data integrity, ensuring data accuracy, and facilitating seamless business operations. Here are some strategies and tools commonly used for managing data transfer in Salesforce:

Data Import Wizard

The Data Import Wizard is a user-friendly tool within Salesforce that allows you to import data for standard and custom objects easily.

It’s particularly useful for smaller data volumes (up to 50,000 records at a time) and supports various standard objects like Accounts, Contacts, Leads, and custom objects.

The wizard provides a step-by-step guide, helping you map fields, review your data, and perform the import operation without the need for complex coding.

Data Loader

For larger data sets or more complex data import/export requirements, Salesforce offers the Data Loader tool.

Data Loader is a client application that can be used to insert, update, delete, and export Salesforce records. It supports operations for up to five million records at a time.

This tool allows the use of CSV files to upload data into Salesforce and can be automated and used in conjunction with the command line for complex data transfer processes.

APIs for Integration

Salesforce provides a robust set of APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) like the REST API, SOAP API, Bulk API, and Streaming API, to facilitate complex data integrations.

These APIs are essential for real-time or batch data transfers, allowing for seamless integration between Salesforce and external databases, applications, or ERP systems.

The choice of API depends on the specific use case, data volume, and the level of integration required. For instance, the Bulk API is optimized for loading a large number of records asynchronously, while the REST API is more suited for mobile applications and web projects.

Monitoring and Maintenance

Regular monitoring of data transfers is crucial to ensure data accuracy and integrity. Salesforce provides various tools and reports to track data import/export operations, monitor API usage, and audit data changes.

Scheduled data backups and regular data quality checks should be part of the data management strategy to prevent data loss and maintain high data quality.

What is SOQL?

SOQL, or Salesforce Object Query Language, is a query language specifically designed for querying the Salesforce database. It is used to search your organization’s Salesforce data for specific information. SOQL is conceptually similar to SQL (Structured Query Language), the standard language for querying relational databases, but it’s tailored to work within the context of the Salesforce platform. Here are some key aspects of SOQL:

Query Structure:

SOQL queries allow you to specify the data you want to retrieve, including specific fields, objects, and conditions for selecting rows.

A basic SOQL query has a structure similar to SQL, such as SELECT fieldList FROM objectType WHERE conditions .

Object and Field Specification:

In SOQL, you specify the object you’re querying, similar to how you specify a table in SQL. You can also specify the fields (columns) of that object that you want to retrieve.

You can query standard objects, like Account or Contact, as well as custom objects.

Filtering and Sorting:

SOQL allows you to filter and sort the data you retrieve by using conditions (similar to the WHERE clause in SQL) and ordering results (using the ORDER BY clause).

You can use logical operators like AND, OR, and NOT to refine your data retrieval.

Relationship Queries:

SOQL supports querying data across relationships. This is particularly powerful in Salesforce, where understanding the relationships between objects is crucial.

You can use relationship queries to retrieve related data from parent or child objects, similar to JOINs in SQL.

Limits and Performance:

Salesforce imposes governor limits to ensure that queries do not monopolize shared resources. These include limits on the number of records you can retrieve and the number of queries you can issue.

It’s important to write efficient SOQL queries to ensure optimal performance and to respect these limits.

Use Cases:

SOQL is used in various contexts within Salesforce, such as in Apex code (Salesforce’s proprietary programming language), Visualforce pages, and Lightning components.

It’s also used in data integration scenarios, where external systems need to query Salesforce data.

DML Statements VS Database Methods

Apex provides two ways to perform Data manipulation language (DML) operations, DML statements and Database methods.Following are the basic differences between the DML statements and the Database methods.

DML StatementsDatabase Methods
DML statements do not support the partial manipulation of records in a list.Database methods allow partial manipulation of records in a list.
DML does not return the list of success or failure of records.Database method returns the list of success and failure of records.
Syntax: Insert recordList;syntax: database.insert(recordList, false);
DML Statements Vs Database methods

Keynote: In database methods, when errors are encountered, you can define whether to allow partial processing or not. To do this, you will need to pass an additional Boolean parameter in the method. 

If you specify False in the parameter, that means if any of the records in a list got the error won’t affect the processing of other records and the remaining records will update successfully except that record. 

If you specify True in the parameter, that means if any of the records in the list got an error during the processing of records, the whole list will roll back and an exception will be thrown.

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When gearing up for a Salesforce position, it’s crucial to be well-prepared for the interview process. To assist you in this endeavor, we have put together an extensive collection of Salesforce interview questions and answers, which encompass a wide range of topics from basic concepts to advanced features, ensuring you have a solid understanding before your interview.

How do I create a salesforce database?

Creating a Salesforce database typically involves setting up your Salesforce environment and configuring it to suit your data storage, management, and operational needs. Salesforce, as a cloud-based platform, doesn’t require the traditional database creation steps like you would with SQL databases. Instead, you configure the platform to work as your database.

Here are the simplified steps to get started:

1. Sign Up for Salesforce

If you don’t already have an account, sign up for Salesforce. Choose from various editions tailored to different business needs. Starting with a free trial is a great way to get acquainted with Salesforce’s features without any commitment.

2. Plan Your Data Model

Before diving into Salesforce, it’s crucial to plan your data model. Understand the types of data you’ll manage, how they relate to each other, and the business processes they support. This step involves identifying the necessary objects (like tables), the fields (like columns) each object should have, and how these objects will relate to each other.

3. Create Custom Objects and Fields

With your data model ready, proceed to create custom objects and fields in Salesforce. Use the Object Manager found in Salesforce Setup, and select ‘Create’ to define new custom objects. Add custom fields to these objects based on your requirements.

4. Define Relationships

Establish relationships between your objects to reflect the interconnectivity of your data. You might create lookup relationships (similar to a foreign key in SQL but loosely coupled) or master-detail relationships (tightly coupled, with detail records dependent on the master record).

5. Configure Security Settings

Configure profiles and permission sets to manage data visibility and user actions. Salesforce’s robust security settings help ensure that each user accesses only the data they need for their role.

6. Import Existing Data

If you have existing data, utilize tools like Salesforce’s Data Import Wizard or Data Loader to migrate it into your new custom objects. Ensure the data is clean and well-organized before importing to avoid complications.

7. Customize User Interface

Customize the user interface to enhance user interaction with your data. Set up page layouts, record types, and utilize Lightning components to make the data easily accessible and actionable.

8. Test and Iterate

Test your setup extensively. Create, edit, and delete records to ensure that all elements, such as relationships and security settings, function as expected. Adjust based on findings to optimize the database.

9. Deploy and Train

Once your setup is complete and tested, deploy the Salesforce database to your users. Provide them with training and detailed documentation to help them effectively use the new system.

10. Continuous Improvement

Regularly gather user feedback and monitor how the system performs in real scenarios. Use this feedback to make continuous improvements, enhancing user experience and system efficiency.

Top 5 interview questions, for beginners?

1) What are the different types of objects in Salesforce, and how do they differ?
Answer: This question tests your understanding of the basic building blocks of the Salesforce database. You should be able to differentiate between Standard, Custom, and External objects, and give examples of how and when each type is used.

2) Can you explain what SOQL is and how it is used in Salesforce?
Answer: Interviewers ask this to gauge your familiarity with querying the Salesforce database. You should know that SOQL stands for Salesforce Object Query Language and be able to describe how it is used to search and retrieve data from Salesforce objects.

3) What are the different types of relationships in Salesforce, and how would you use them?
Answer: This question assesses your knowledge of relational data models in Salesforce. Be prepared to explain Lookup, Master-Detail, and Hierarchical relationships, and provide scenarios where each might be appropriately used.

4) Describe the process of importing data into Salesforce. What tools or features does Salesforce provide for data import?
Answer: This question checks your practical skills in managing data within Salesforce. You should be familiar with tools like the Data Import Wizard and Data Loader, and understand when and how to use each tool.

5) What is a Schema Builder, and how is it useful in Salesforce?
Answer: This question evaluates your understanding of Salesforce’s tools for visualizing and managing the database schema. You should be able to explain that the Schema Builder provides a dynamic environment for adding and modifying objects, fields, and relationships, and how it helps in visualizing the structure of your data model.

Top 5 interview questions, for experienced?

1) How do you handle large data volumes (LDV) in Salesforce, and what are the best practices for ensuring optimal performance?
Answer: This question tests your experience with managing significant data sets within Salesforce. Discuss strategies like using skinny tables, appropriate indexing, archiving old data, and optimizing SOQL queries. Highlight your understanding of Salesforce’s governor limits and how to work within those constraints.

2) Explain the considerations and steps involved in migrating an existing complex database into Salesforce.
Answer: Interviewers are looking for your experience with data migration and integration. Discuss the assessment of current data structures, cleansing and preparation of data, choosing the right tools (like Data Loader or third-party ETL tools), and ensuring data integrity and security during the migration process.

3) Can you describe a challenging scenario you encountered with Salesforce database and how you resolved it?
Answer: This question assesses your problem-solving skills and hands-on experience. Describe a specific situation, the challenges you faced, the approach you took to troubleshoot the issue, and the solution you implemented. Emphasize the impact of your solution and what you learned from the experience.

4) Discuss the use of Apex in Salesforce database management. When would you use Apex triggers, and what best practices would you follow?
Answer: The question gauges your expertise in using Salesforce’s proprietary language for complex business logic. Discuss scenarios where using Apex is more suitable than workflow rules or process builders. Explain how you ensure bulkification, avoid SOQL queries inside loops, and handle exception management in Apex triggers.

5) How do you ensure data security and compliance in Salesforce, especially when dealing with sensitive customer information?
Answer: This question probes into your knowledge of Salesforce’s security model. Discuss the use of profiles, permission sets, field-level security, sharing rules, and encryption. Also, touch upon how you stay compliant with data protection regulations like GDPR or HIPAA while using Salesforce.

5 scenario based interview questions?

Q: How would you approach migrating sales data from a merging company into your Salesforce system, considering the presence of custom objects and complex relationships?
Answer: To ensure data integrity and minimal disruption to ongoing operations during the migration, I would start by thoroughly analyzing the data structure of the merging company. This includes understanding all custom objects, their fields, and the relationships between them. I would then map these objects and fields to the existing Salesforce schema in our system, identifying any discrepancies and determining necessary transformations or integrations. Using a robust data migration tool like Salesforce Data Loader or a third-party ETL (Extract, Transform, Load) tool, I would perform test migrations in a sandbox environment to validate data integrity and workflow impacts. This stage would also involve cleaning and deduplicating data to maintain high data quality. After successful testing and validation, I would schedule the migration during off-peak hours to reduce the impact on daily operations, followed by thorough post-migration reviews to ensure all data has been accurately transferred and is functioning as expected in the new environment.

Q: What steps would you take to diagnose and resolve performance issues reported by the sales team, particularly related to generating monthly sales reports from a custom object with millions of records?
Answer: To address the slow performance issues when generating monthly sales reports, I would begin by examining the current system configuration and query performance. This involves analyzing the reports and underlying queries to identify bottlenecks such as non-selective queries or large data volume retrieval. I would consider optimizing these queries by utilizing custom indexes, narrowing search criteria, and ensuring fields used in filters are indexed. Additionally, implementing Salesforce best practices like reducing the number of records processed in a single transaction and using summary fields or roll-up summaries can enhance performance. To further diagnose issues, I would use the Salesforce Developer Console’s performance tools to monitor and analyze query execution times and system logs. For scalability, I would recommend reviewing and possibly redesigning the data model or report logic to accommodate future growth efficiently. This might include segmenting data or incorporating asynchronous report generation capabilities.

Q: Describe how you would structure the objects and relationships in Salesforce for a real estate agency tracking properties, agents, and property viewings.
Answer: For the real estate agency’s Salesforce solution, I would create three custom objects: Properties, Agents, and Property Viewings. The Properties object would store details about the properties. The Agents object would hold information about the real estate agents. For tracking which agent viewed which property, I would create the Property Viewings object as a junction object that establishes many-to-many relationships between Properties and Agents. This junction object would have two master-detail relationships: one linking it to the Properties object and the other to the Agents object. Each record in the Property Viewings object would represent a specific viewing, storing additional information such as viewing dates and notes. This structure allows for flexible reporting and analytics, such as tracking all properties viewed by a specific agent or all agents who have viewed a specific property.

Q: How would you configure Salesforce security settings to ensure data access is appropriately restricted based on role?
Answer: To secure sensitive customer data in Salesforce and ensure appropriate access levels, I would utilize Salesforce’s robust security model, including Organization-Wide Defaults (OWD), Role Hierarchies, Sharing Rules, and Profiles. I would set the OWD for sensitive objects to ‘Private,’ ensuring that records are only accessible to the record owners by default. Through Role Hierarchies, I would ensure that managers can access records owned by their subordinates. For more granular access, such as allowing managers to access all sales data within their region, I would implement Sharing Rules to extend access based on specific criteria such as geographic regions defined in the user records. Profiles and Permission Sets would be used to grant necessary permissions to sales representatives and managers, including object-level permissions and field-level security to control visibility to sensitive fields.

Q: Explain how you would design an Apex trigger to update the status of a ‘Case’ record to ‘Closed’ when all associated ‘Tasks’ are marked as completed.
Answer: To create an efficient Apex trigger for updating the ‘Case’ status, I would write a bulk-safe trigger on the Task object that fires after updates. The trigger would check if the related Case should be closed by verifying that all associated Tasks are marked as completed. This involves querying the Tasks related to the Case whenever a Task is updated. If all Tasks are completed, the trigger would then update the Case status to ‘Closed’. To ensure the trigger handles bulk operations effectively and avoids hitting governor limits, I would make sure that the query and DML operations are outside of any loops. Using collections to batch data and updates, and implementing best practices such as using maps to hold data for processing, will ensure the trigger is efficient and scalable.

Multiple Choice Questions

Salesforce Database

1 / 5

Which setting in Salesforce is crucial for controlling user access to specific fields within an object?

2 / 5

Which feature allows external data to be used in Salesforce as if it were stored within the platform?

3 / 5

What is the primary function of Salesforce’s Schema Builder?

4 / 5

Which type of relationship in Salesforce allows the creation of a tightly coupled link where the child’s existence depends on the parent?

5 / 5

What does a Custom Object in Salesforce allow users to do?

Your score is

The average score is 90%


Next Chapter is SOSL Query in Apex and previous chapter is DML Statements.

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