https://trailhead.salesforce.com/alm_deployment/alm_sandbox - done reading
http://salesforce.vidyard.com/watch/ztQE-qJseZsWPUOYg7krfg - Release Management: Developing and Testing on Sandbox
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afK95S3UeyU - From Sandbox to Production: An Introduction to Salesforce Release Management
Sandboxes aren’t available in Developer Edition orgs. Sandboxes are available in some editions, including Professional, Enterprise, and Unlimited. // Types of sandboxes: There are four kinds of sandboxes: 1. Developer: Developer sandboxes copy only the org’s configuration, no data. You can create or load up to 200 MB of data, which is enough for many development and testing tasks. You can refresh a Developer sandbox once per day. 2. Developer Pro: A Developer Pro sandbox can store up to 1 GB of data (about 500,000 records). It’s otherwise similar to a Developer sandbox. 3. Partial Copy: A Partial Copy is a Developer sandbox, plus a sampling of data that you define in a sandbox template. You have limited control over the data that is copied. You can choose the objects, but not the records to pull. The sandbox can include up to 5 GB of data, which is about 2.5 million records, with a maximum of 10,000 records per object. You can refresh a Partial Copy sandbox every five days. 4. Full: A copy of your production organization and all its data. Because the Full sandbox is an exact copy, the amount of data in the sandbox is the same as your production org. You can refresh a Full sandbox every 29 days. Full sandboxes are required only for performance and scalability testing, as well as for staging before final deployment. You might also need a Full sandbox to test triggers that make non-selective queries. For all other use cases, a partial copy of data is enough. For testing, it’s often better not to copy data at all, but rather load the same set of data every time. Data is time consuming to copy, and a large volume of data can take days to complete. // Creating and Refreshing sandboxes: Creating or refreshing a sandbox doesn’t happen via the Metadata API, so the components copied aren’t restricted to objects that have XML representations. Therefore, you get a true and complete copy of everything in the production org. After initial creation, you can refresh the sandbox, creating a new sandbox in place of the old one. To create a sandbox: 1. Click on Setup 2. Click on Sandbox under the Deploy section in the left hand side 3. Click on Create Sandbox You can supply data for testing in sandbox in several ways: 1. Use sandbox templates to provide real-world data that makes your testing environment more closely resemble your production instance. Sandbox templates are available only in a Partial Copy or Full sandbox. 2. Import external data into your sandbox to make repeatable testing easier because the data set is static and can be relied on not to change. Refresh your sandbox periodically to update it with data and metadata components from production. Refreshing sandboxes ensures that your sandbox doesn’t miss any changes that were deployed to production by another sandbox or manually introduced in production. When you refresh a sandbox, Salesforce rebuilds your environment and erases its old contents. The content in your new sandbox is replaced with a copy of the production org. Beware that it’s possible to overwrite all the development you’ve done in your sandbox. Therefore, it’s a good practice for each developer to have their own sandbox and make their own backups. Establish a process with the rest of the team for refreshing sandboxes. How often you can refresh your sandbox depends on the sandbox type. // Copying Production Data with Sandbox Templates: If you have a Partial Copy or Full sandbox, you can pick which standard and custom objects to copy over from production by using sandbox templates. Sandbox templates help you limit the size of your sandbox by limiting the data that is copied over. Generally, you need only a representative set of data for testing in sandbox, not all the data from production. Reducing the amount of data that is copied to sandbox can significantly reduce the sandbox copy time. The sandbox template editor understands the object relationships defined in your org’s schema. Some objects are always included because they’re required in any org. As you select objects to copy, the editor ensures that the associated required objects are added. To access sandbox templates: 1. From Setup, enter Sandboxes in the Quick Find box, select Sandboxes, then click the Sandbox Templates tab. 2. Click New Sandbox Template or click Edit next to an existing template you want to modify. // Salesforce - Developer - Sandboxes - Importing Test Data: You might think it’s more convenient to use a Partial Copy or Full sandbox, and simply avoid having to load data, but that’s not necessarily better than loading test data. Data on the production org changes all the time, so anything you’re repetitively testing can give you unexpected results. Static data provides consistency. Generally, it’s better to load a small, representative set of test data into your Developer and Developer Pro sandboxes. When functionality changes unexpectedly, it’s easier to pinpoint where the problem occurred when the data is static. Developer and Developer Pro sandboxes also have a shorter refresh cycle. Most people load data using CSV files and the data loader. If you’re loading large sets of data, you can use the Force.com Bulk API. The Bulk API and supporting web interface allows you to upload and create import jobs, monitor and manage jobs, and receive notifications when the jobs complete. For more information, see Loading Large Data Sets with the Force.com Bulk API: https://developer.salesforce.com/page/ Loading_Large_Data_Sets_with_the_Force.com_Bulk_API // Managing Sandbox Users and Logins Anyone with a production login can log in to a sandbox. Although most users in the production org probably aren’t aware of the existence of a sandbox, you probably don’t want them poking around your development environment either. To manage access, you can deactivate production users in sandbox. That works out well, because the deactivated production users make room for developers, who usually don’t have a login to the production system, but need a login to sandbox. This user license trading is necessary, because you have a finite number of licenses. The easiest way to give developers a login to sandbox is to create them as users in production, but don’t activate them until needed. After creating or refreshing a sandbox, deactivate production users who don’t need access and then activate the developer users. Just make sure that the user you deactivate in sandbox isn’t someone who logs in to that environment. All licenses are copied from production to sandbox. If a new license is applied in production and you want to apply it to sandbox, you must refresh with the sync tool (see Match Production Licenses to Sandbox without a Refresh: http://releasenotes.docs.salesforce.com/en-us/summer14/ release-notes/rn_forcecom_sandbox_copy_licenses.htm). When you create a sandbox, all email addresses, except the sandbox creator, are modified so that people don’t receive emails from sandbox testing. Note that email delivery defaults to off, so if you need to test automated emails from Apex or workflow rules, you must turn this setting on. Not only are emails not sent, but unit tests fail when Messaging.sendEmail throws exceptions. // Use Profiles to Limit User Access During a deployment window, you can use profiles to limit end-user access to the production organization. 1. Alert all active users about the maintenance window using the email wizard. From Setup, enter Mass Email Users in the Quick Find box, then select Mass Email Users. 2. Create a profile to lock users out during the maintenance window by editing the login hours. Be sure that system administrators or integration users have access if they need it. 3. Roll out objects, tabs, and apps to different user profiles if you want to allow some users access for acceptance testing. If your organization includes many profiles, use the following strategy for setting up a maintenance window: 1. Create a profile named Maintenance with all login hours locked out. 2. Use the Data Loader to extract and save a mapping of users and their user profiles. 3. At the beginning of the maintenance window, use the Data Loader to change all user profiles, except the administrator’s, to the Maintenance profile. It is important to leave login access with the administrator. Otherwise, all users could be locked out of the system indefinitely. If integrations are going to run during the maintenance window, also don’t lock out the integration user. 4. At the end of the maintenance window, use the Data Loader to reload the users with their original profiles.