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Audit Trail – A Hidden Gem

Earlier this week a friend wanted to know how best to troubleshoot an error message he, and his users, were getting.  Every time anyone tried to access ANY record, they got an error that looked like this:

“UNABLE_TO_LOCK_ROW : unable to obtain exclusive access to this record”

That’s bad!  No one could work inside Salesforce!

This meant that somewhere, something had changed to cause all the records in their org to be locked.  How does my friend figure out what changed so he can quickly un-do it?

The Audit Trail to the rescue!!

What is it?

The Audit Trail helps you track the recent Setup changes that you and other administrators have made to your organization. This is especially useful in organizations with multiple administrators.

The setup Audit Trail history shows you the 20 most recent Setup changes made to your organization. It lists:

  • The date and time (with timezone) of the change.

  • Who made it (by username).

  • What the change was.

Here’s an example:

To view the setup Audit Trail history, click Setup –> Security Controls –> View Setup Audit Trail.


What permissions do I need to view the Audit Trail?

In order to view the Audit Trail, you’ll need “View Setup and Configuration” permission.

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What does it track?

The Audit Trail tracks lots of things. For example: changing a page layout, changing tab names, or changing activity settings. Click here for a complete list of all the thing the Audit Trail tracks.


Why would I need this?

The Audit Trail is useful for troubleshooting. Because it captures date/time, you can often trace user issues back to a specific change. For example, if users all of a sudden are being asked to reset their passwords, you can trace that back to a change in password settings.

It’s also a great record of all the work you’ve done to customize Salesforce. Smart administrators keep a log of the work they do, and the Audit Trail is a great place to start! This can be especially useful when review time comes around!


What if I want to see more than the last 20 entries?

To download your organization’s full Setup history for the past 180 days, click the Download link. This will give you a CSV file that can be opened in Excel and sorted.


This thing is awesome! Is there anything it can’t do?

The one thing the Audit Trail doesn’t do is capture the “why”. Why did Joe edit that workflow? Why would Sally change the email address for a user? These kinds of questions can’t be answered with the Audit Trail. But, you do know who to ask because their username is right there.