Salesforce Sandboxes are generally the most underestimated assets that Salesforce development teams have. Even if the team does optimize the Sandbox, they often ignore making refreshes. This is primarily because there are extreme limits when it comes to Sandbox refreshes and so this is why sales teams often under value and neglect them. In fact, this irregularity of the availability of refreshes needed is not the main priority of most teams and this is why its importance gets lost into oblivion as well.
You should use Sandbox refreshes for development environments so that Full, Dev or Partial Copy sandboxes can reflect the production data to its best. When you undertake Sandbox refreshes the data is extracted from the production data to create a new sandbox accurately close to the type permitted. For instance, the Partial Copy Sandbox will not resemble the production data as it has limits when it comes to the volume of reports it is permitted to contain.
Get the confidence needed for code and configuration for production
When you have data that is accurate when you are developing software, you will get the confidence that changes to the coding and its configuration will not wreck the instance of production. A lot of Salesforce Sandboxes are directly attached to the data and when the action of testing its key features against the data that is accurate is a prudent choice.
However, you should note that when you refresh the sandbox it brings down changes to the meta data. This is crucial and it is here that you not only want the sandbox data to sync in with the production but you wish the metadata to do so too. This is the spot where several teams generally fail.
As an individual or business owner, you would want your meta data to mirror the production data as precise as possible as this makes incorporation of the code and making configuration changes simpler and much less harrowing. For instance, you can take the case of let’s say two sandboxes. A company needs feature a request that requires a trigger update on Apex and a fresh custom field that should be created. Sandbox A received a recent refresh from production data and its metadata is precisely similar to the production data. Again, Sandbox B has been created and focused upon by several developers and not received a refresh for over one year- this might sound extreme however it is common practice that most developers of Salesforce follow.
Experts working on Salesforce sandbox refresh interval state refreshes to the metadata is just as vital as refreshes to the production data as this keeps the development environment of the company in pace with the production data.
Now you need to carry out some changes from the first Sandbox, i.e. Sandbox A, the process will be a smooth one. There is a difference between two orgs after the changes you make in them. There are no fears or dangers of you overwriting the metadata that is present in production data and so dependency problems like the creation of bugs and other issues are eradicated effectively.
What about Sandbox B?
Coming back to Sandbox B, you will find the process here is not as simple as Sandbox A. Sandbox B will not be different from production. This again will be in some ways but there are multiple differences as unused fields, classes, triggers and Visualforce pages located in the Sandbox do not exist in production. Now, this new feature is tested on Sandbox, it does look good and it seems there are no issues. However, issues arise during the time of deployment and this is when you actually should be tensed. There is no guarantee that this feature that is new will not break into production accidentally due to an issue in dependency.
The above challenge is the key reason why several Salesforce teams are gearing towards the ongoing integration when it comes to Salesforce. When you make small changes frequently, you can keep both the test and developer environments in pace with production and this reduces the risks of issues and bugs. When you incorporate extensive changes that are tested on the environment that does not resemble production in any way, chances are high that you will incur a lot of trouble.
An insight into the process of how to refresh the sandbox
The process to refresh a sandbox is not difficult. All you need to do is visit the Setup and go into Data Management and select Sandboxes. This feature will give you a complete list of all the sandboxes and those ready for a refresh have a link indicating the same beside them. When you select the Refresh link, you will find there is a change of status that says “copying”. When the process of refreshing the Sandbox is over, you will receive an email from Salesforce notifying you of the same.
Once the process is over, you would need to ensure that this sandbox is activated so that it can use the new changes. The status also changes and says that it is ready for replacement and you simply have to click on “activate” on the refreshed sandbox. However, in the process, you will lose all the metadata and data present inside it when you do it. You cannot recover this data unless you use a special tool that tracks the source control.
Now the question that comes to your mind is how often can you refresh your Sandbox?
Experts in the above field state you should refresh your Sandbox regularly within the prescribed limits that are set by Salesforce. Teams should keep the above in mind and not neglect the need to refresh Sandboxes frequently.
When it comes to the time taken for refreshing a sandbox, there is no definite period. However, it does take long and so you should be ready for it. In fact, it might take 7 days or even more to complete but for a very small sandbox, it might take just a few minutes. Therefore, keep the above in mind and do not forget to refresh your Sandboxes frequently if you have a dedicated team for Salesforce!