How to choose between Data Loader and for Data Migrations

Data Loader vs. Blog Post

What’s the difference between these two similarly named data loading tools and why would you use one over the other to complete a data migration?

Before we dive into today’s topic, let’s get one thing out of the way. 

I do not believe in the Wizard

I am not talking about Dumbledore, Jareth the Goblin King, Merlin, or Gandalf. 

I’m referring to DataImport Wizard, the weakest of all wizards. If you’ve ever been tasked with importing data with this tool, you’re already aware of its extreme limitations.

  • Does it permit the inserting of data into Salesforce? Sure, sort of
  • Does it do it very well? No, not really

Now let’s jump into the good stuff.

This post focuses on two data loading tools – Data Loader and – and shows you how to load a file of accounts using each.

What is Data Loader?

It is the Salesforce-provided desktop app used to insert, update, delete or export salesforce records.

Officially, it is a client application for the bulk import or export of data. Use it to insert, update, delete, or export Salesforce records. When importing data, Data Loader reads, extracts, and loads data from comma-separated values (CSV) files or from a database connection.

Salesforce Data Loader

Data Loader Pros

  • Free with all Salesforce editions (yes – completely, totally free)
  • It has every data loading feature and setting you need for a data migration
  • Automatically outputs success and error files into a folder of your choosing, which is critical for troubleshooting
  • Drag and drop field mapping as well as the ability to create and re-use maps
  • Easy to upload large amounts of data

Data Loader Cons

  • There’s a learning curve to understanding data object relationships
  • Data preparation for successful loads can require significant time
  • Need to understand how to manipulate Excel csv files
  • Must download an application onto your computer to use it (i.e. not cloud-based)
  • Have to log out and log back in after you make certain changes in Salesforce (i.e. create a new field)

What is

Per Salesforce, it is the most popular data loader for Salesforce to quickly and securely import, export and delete unlimited amounts of data for your enterprise. It’s a simple, 100% cloud solution. Pros

  • Cloud-based solution that doesn’t require an application to be downloaded onto your computer
  • Uses oAuth 2.0, which means you don’t need to use a security key or whitelist your IP to login to the client’s org
  • Auto-mapping, keyboard shortcuts and search filters to make mapping data from the source file faster
  • Import and export data directly from Box, DropBox, FTP and SFTP repositories quickly and easily
  • Has a feature to find a parent or related record without the record ID Cons

  • Free version maxes out at 10,000 records/month (10,000 total records successfully imported, updated, or exported)
  • Doesn’t save your history of loads on the free version
  • Date formatting issues are common and annoying
  • Import and export data directly from Box, DropBox, FTP and SFTP repositories quickly and easily
  • The status of “running” isn’t very helpful, compared to data loader’s real-time status of number of records successfully loaded versus errored out

** This post is not focused on scheduling, so this analysis is only based on migration pros and cons.

How to choose between Data Loader and

It depends on the use case.

I use’s free version when I need to complete a small (i.e. well under 10k) import, export or update of records.

For full data migrations, I use Data Loader. It has always been my go-to tool because:

  • It does everything
  • It costs nothing
  • It’s always consistent

There are certain requirements that enforces that Data Loader does not. For example, loading a list of new users. In, there are dozens of user object fields required. In data loader, you only need the critical fields.

Here’s a screenshot of the new users file I had prepared to load. The headers in this file are the only fields necessary when loading into Data Loader


New Users File Screenshot

However, when I attempted to load this file into Salesforce using I got this error that stated I was missing dozens of required fields. Insert Error

I then logged out of because ain’t nobody got time to prep a file with dozens of unnecessary fields. I inserted the file with 100% success using data loader.


Data Loader will always be my ride or die, my bae, my #1.

In GenZ/Alpha terms, Data Loader just hits differentno cap. It’s got that main character energybet.

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