How to update records with external ID in Salesforce?

update records with external ID in Salesforce: Salesforce, being a powerful CRM platform, allows users to update records seamlessly using various methods. One highly effective and commonly used approach is updating records with External IDs. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the step-by-step process of updating records with External IDs in Salesforce, exploring its benefits, best practices, and potential considerations.

Understanding External IDs in Salesforce

An External ID is a custom field that acts as a unique identifier for records and allows for integration with external systems. When updating records with External IDs, Salesforce leverages these identifiers to ensure accurate and efficient data updates.

Step-by-Step Guide for Update Records with External ID in Salesforce

1. Enable External ID for the Field:

  • Before proceeding, ensure that the External ID field is enabled for the object and has been properly defined.

2. Gather External IDs:

  • Identify and gather the External IDs for the records you intend to update. These IDs may be provided by external systems or generated within Salesforce.

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3. Prepare Data for Update:

  • Organize the data you wish to update in a CSV file, ensuring it includes the External ID field and the fields you want to modify.

4. Use Data Loader or Import Wizard:

  • Choose your preferred data management tool, such as Salesforce Data Loader or Import Wizard, to perform the update.

5. Map Fields and External IDs:

  • Map the fields in your CSV file to the corresponding fields in Salesforce, including the External ID field.

6. Execute the Update:

  • Run the update process, allowing Salesforce to match records based on External IDs and apply the specified modifications.

7. Review and Validate:

  • Thoroughly review the results to ensure that records were updated correctly. Address any errors or discrepancies.

Benefits of Update Records with External ID in Salesforce

1. Efficiency in Integration:

  • Updating records with External IDs streamlines integration with external systems, enhancing efficiency in data synchronization.

2. Avoiding Duplicate Records:

  • External IDs help prevent the creation of duplicate records, ensuring data integrity across integrated platforms.

3. Simplified Data Updates:

  • The process simplifies data updates by eliminating the need to search for records based on Salesforce-generated IDs.

Best Practices for Updating Records with External ID

  • Consistent External ID Format:
    • Ensure a consistent format for External IDs to avoid discrepancies during the update process.
  • Thorough Testing:
    • Before performing large-scale updates, conduct thorough testing with a subset of records to identify and resolve potential issues.
  • Data Backup:
    • Always backup your data before initiating updates, providing a safety net in case of unexpected challenges.

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External Resources

  1. Salesforce External ID Documentation
  2. Salesforce Data Loader Guide

FAQs about Updating Records with External ID in Salesforce

Q1: Can I update multiple records with External IDs simultaneously?

A1: Yes, by using tools like Salesforce Data Loader or Import Wizard, you can update multiple records simultaneously based on their External IDs.

Q2: What happens if there are errors during the update process?

A2: The results file generated by data management tools highlights errors encountered during the update, helping administrators identify and resolve issues.

Q3: Can any field be used as an External ID?

A3: While not all fields can be designated as External IDs, custom fields and some standard fields can be configured for this purpose.

Q4: Is it possible to rollback changes if needed?

A4: Thorough testing and data backup before updates provide the ability to rollback changes if unexpected issues arise during the process.


Updating records with External IDs in Salesforce is a powerful and efficient method for managing data, especially in integrated environments. By following this guide, understanding the benefits, and adhering to best practices, administrators can confidently leverage External IDs to maintain accurate and synchronized records across Salesforce and external systems. Empower yourself with the knowledge to navigate the intricacies of updating records with External IDs and enhance your data management capabilities in Salesforce.