The Force.com platform offers you a development environment which you can use to create your own custom applications. Frequently, you will use the Force.com platform to create applications that operate on data that you already have in some form - in comma-separated variable files, spreadsheets or other relational databases.
The Data Loader is an easy to use graphical tool that helps you to get your data into Salesforce objects. The Data Loader can also be used to extract data from database objects into any of the destinations mentioned above. You can even use the Data Loader to perform bulk deletions by exporting the ID fields for the data you wish to delete and using that source to specify deletions through the Data Loader.
The Data Loader requires the use of the Force.com API. If your Salesforce edition allows the use of the API (Enterprise, Unlimited and Developer Editions), you can download the Data Loader from the Setup menu, under Administer heading - Data Management.
Features of the Data Loader include:
- An easy-to-use wizard interface
- An alternate command line interface
- A batch mode interface with database connectivity
- Support for large files with up to millions of rows
- Drag-and-drop field mapping
- Support for all objects, including custom objects
- Detailed success and error log files in CSV format
- A built-in CSV file viewer
- Supported on Windows 7 and Windows XP, though an unofficial OS X version is also available
Data Loader basics
The following resources are good places to start learning about Data Loader
Extended Data Loader capabilities
For more detailed information about the use of Data Loader, check out
- This course on the topic of migrating data into Salesforce
- A recent article on running Data Loader from the command line for non-interactive operation
- One user's experience using Data Loader from the command line, including parameter descriptions and how to encrypt passwords.
- An article on importing attachments with Data Loader
- Data Loader CLIq gives you a wizard to quickly create a working Command Line Interface (CLI) configuration. A little bit of work is needed but saves you a lot of time.
- Additional detail on importing data into related lists, using External IDs
Other loading options
- Another option for loading and unloading data from Force.com objects is the Force.com Excel Connector, an open source project
- The Data Loader uses the Force.com Soap API. Because of this dependence, the Data Loader is only available to Unlimited, Enterprise and Developer users. If you want to move data into Force.com and are not using one of these editions, you can use the Enhanced Import Wizard
- An OS X build of the Data Loader application, quickly export, create or update data in your Force.com organization.
- An open-source version on Github, which you can use to build on other platforms such as Linux.
- See the Tools page for additional tools.