Import Wizard and Data Loader - What's the difference?

Import Wizard vs Data Loader.

If you're studying for your Admin Certification or are looking to import some data to your Salesforce Org, you've undoubtedly noticed that there are a few different tools for you to choose from.  In this blog post, we'll go over the main differences in a way that is easy to understand so that you can choose the right tool for your needs. We'll also use proven memory techniques like visualisation that will make it easy for you to recall these differences at the drop of a hat (for that pesky Admin exam!). 

Import Wizard

Salesforce data import wizard


What is it?

The Data Import Wizard is the baby of the three import tools. It's easy to use, but has limited capabilities. It allows us to insert, update & upsert the records. Note that there is NO EXPORT functionality available here.

Key Features:

  • Can only import accounts, contacts, leads, solutions, campaign members, custom objects, and person accounts.
  • You can import up to 50,000 records at a time.
  • Duplicates can be prevented by checking name, email, or SF ID fields. For Accounts, it checks the account name, and site field.
  • Record import will fail if there is a missing field that is either:
    • required at field level OR
    • is a Master-Detail field on a detail record.
  • Validation rules are enforced

How can I remember it?


Salesforce import wizard

Here's a few tricks:
  • When you think about the Data Import Wizard, think about a little old wizard who's a little bit crazy. A good example is Merlin the wizard from the Disney animated film, Sword in the Stone.
  • Wizards teach students, so imagine in your head that your in Merlin's class. Aha! Here's the trick - we can use the word "class" as an acronym for the objects that the Data Import Wizard can accept. We just draw out the 'c' and lose one 's'.
  • C - C - C - L - A - S = Campaigns, Contacts, Custom Objects, Leads, Accounts, Solutions.
  • It also helps to sit for a moment and vividly imagine Merlin waving his wand and writind the number '50,000' in the air with a shower of sparks and magic dust.

Data Loader

Salesforce Data Loader


What is it?

Data Loader is used for bulk import or export of data. You can use it to insert, update, delete, or export Salesforce records. Data Loader loads from and exports data to, CSV files or from a database connection. The most common way to use it, is through a handy-dandy point-and-click interface, BUT if you are blessed (or cursed) enough to be using Windows, you can also use Data Loader through the command-line to automate uploads/exports. #hacker.

Key Features:

  • Up to 5 MILLION records at a time
  • Ability to schedule
  • Can export/back-up data
  • Saves your mappings


How can I remember it?

  • When you think about Data Loader, think about a giant bulldozer. In other words, a great big earth loader. (see the connection?).
  • The main thing to remember here is that Data Loader can handle a lot more than Data Import Wizard, so a good trick is to imagine a bulldozer carving out the text '5 MILLION', so if you were to view the land from a plane, you can see the words '5 MILLION' carved into the ground. Another way to remember it, is to imagine a bulldozer shifting a great big pile of dirt, and then think about the 5 million different pieces of soil that are being moved.
  • To remember that Data Loader can also export or back-up data, it's a great idea to cement the image of a bulldozer literally 'backing up' (driving backwards).

Let's Compare the Two


Salesforce Data Loader vs Import Wizard