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How to Perform an Airtable Backup

You can store an enormous amount of data on your Airtable workspace  – data you certainly wouldn’t ever want to lose. It’s important to know there’s not only one way to back up Airtable; keep reading to learn about each of the three options.

How to back up all Airtable workspaces?

Airtable doesn’t have a utility to easily back up an Airtable workspace. Instead, you’ll need to approach the process step by step, using the method most appropriate for your needs.

  • The native ability to take base Snapshots is probably what most users have in mind when discussing an Airtable backup. Airtable takes automatic snapshots of specific boards and stores them for a certain period of time. If the need arises, you can restore a base from a particular snapshot.

The limitation of this method is that you don’t have any control over how frequently a snapshot is taken. On very active bases, it could be daily. On those you use less frequently, it could be weeks before a snapshot is synced. You can also take a manual snapshot as the need arises.

  • A different feature allows you to manually download a view as a .csv file. This approach is more suitable if you wish to work with Airtable data outside of the platform, for example, in a spreadsheet. An exportable .csv file includes all the field values from a given view, and can be imported into many other applications.

The obvious limitation of this method is that you’ll need to download each view manually. You might also have a hard time restoring Airtable from a .csv file. Although Airtable supports .csv imports, that file format isn’t capable of properly maintaining the complex structure of an Airtable base, such as formulas, relations between fields, or database schema.

With this tool, you can fetch specific Airtable views automatically and set a schedule for your importers. You may also pull data from 15+ other applications and combine it all in your preferred spreadsheet tool. Although you’ll have a hard time restoring the data exported this way back into Airtable, it’s by far the easiest tool for pulling data out of Airtable.

How do I back up an Airtable base with a snapshot?

Snapshots are taken automatically for each of your bases. You don’t need to enable them, but you also can’t adjust their frequency. 

Airtable has its own logic to determine the frequency of taking automatic snapshots; it depends largely on the number of changes made to a base, rather than a specific period of time. 

To view the stored snapshots, select the base you want to backup, and click on the History icon, which is represented by a clock with an arrow turning counter-clockwise.

Then select Snapshots and you’ll see the list of available snapshots.

The Airtable plan you’re on determines how long the snapshots are stored: 

  • The Free plan offers only 2 weeks of snapshot history
  • The Plus plan provides 6 months of history
  • Users on the Pro and Enterprise plans can store up to a year’s worth of snapshots

From the same window, you can also export an Airtable base by taking a manual snapshot. To do so, click on Take snapshot.

If you’d like to take another manual snapshot, you’ll need to wait a few hours before you can process another snapshot.

To restore a base, open the History menu, choose Snapshots, and pick the snapshot you want to restore. A confirmation window will appear, where you can choose the workspace into which a base will be restored.

Note that the restored base won’t override the existing one. Instead, Airtable will build a new table with the data from your snapshot.

Back up Airtable data (.csv file method)

If you’re planning to use the data in a separate application, backing up Airtable views is a much better option. The .csv format is widely utilized, and can easily be uploaded into many other applications. However, if you plan to drop it into a Google Sheets file or an Excel workbook, the automatic backup method is more efficient.

A .csv download is available only on Airtable web and desktop apps.

To fetch a backup of any of your views, enter a base and the desired view. Then, click on the view’s name and select Choose CSV.

A file will download containing all the field values from the selected view.

Airtable automatic backup

If you wish to back up an Airtable base and access your data elsewhere, the best approach is to schedule automatic data exports from Airtable. This can be done with Coupler.io, which can export any of your views and import them into a chosen destination at a frequency that you select. 

The destinations available for your Airtable backup include Google Sheets, Google BigQuery, and Microsoft Excel.

To get started, create a free Coupler.io account. Click on the +Add new importer button to create the first Airtable importer.

In addition to Airtable, as we discuss here, there are over 15 other sources available with Coupler.io, making it a versatile data export tool.

Next, enter the Shared URL of the view you want to import. 

Open this view in Airtable. Click on the Share view menu, and then Create a shareable grid view link.

From the pink background, copy your Shared URL and paste it into the appropriate field in Coupler.io.

If the view is password-protected, enter the password here. Otherwise, skip this field and continue.

Select the destination of your choice and click the Connect button. 

A pop-up will appear, asking if you approve Coupler’s access to your account. Click accept and log in to your Google (for Sheets) or Microsoft (for Excel) account when prompted.

Note: the flow for Airtable to BigQuery is a little different, but Coupler.io provides step-by-step instructions.

Next, specify where exactly the data should be imported.

Finally, specify how often the data should be refreshed. You may be interested in a daily Airtable backup performed right before you start your workday. Or perhaps you’d like for the data to be refreshed hourly or even more frequently? It’s all up to you.

Once you’ve finished the configuration, press the Save and run button to initiate the importer. Once it’s finished, click on View results to open the destination file with the newly imported data.

Backing up multiple Airtable views

Chances are you want to import more than just a single view. To correctly back up Airtable, you may want to add a separate importer for each of your views.

Don’t worry, though; you won’t have to repeat the steps above for each view. Go to the list of importers, click the three-dots menu to the right of your Airtable importer, and select Copy

This will create a copy of your importer. All you need to do is enter a new Shared URL and a different sheet so that the previous import is not overwritten.

Airtable database backup – recap

The choice of tools for running an Airtable backup depends on your needs. Snapshots are taken by default, and although they’re pretty limiting (especially on a free plan), they’ll be helpful when all hell breaks loose.

Exporting as CSV and Coupler.io is more useful when you need easy access to your Airtable data or plan to process it further. 

By the way – if you choose to export a view as a CSV, you may have to do some extra work to bring it into the desired shape after you import it to Google Sheets or Excel. Coupler.io also has a CSV to Google Sheets integration (among others) that will simplify the process.

Thanks for reading!

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