NetSuite

The complete guide to refreshing your NetSuite sandbox

Written by
Sonny Spencer, BFP, ACA
Director of Finance Operations
July 28, 2022
10
min read

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We wanted to give you a deeper understanding of the NetSuite sandbox refresh process. In this guide, we will walk through the step-by-step process for refreshing your NetSuite sandbox. In addition, we will review the key considerations prior to making the decision to refresh your NetSuite sandbox.

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Why refreshing a NetSuite sandbox is important

One of the features that sets NetSuite apart from other solutions is the ability to customize the platform to meet specific business requirements. Having access to a NetSuite sandbox allows you to develop and test customizations prior to deploying to your production environment. Testing in your production environment is not advisable and may lead to irreversible changes.

Most businesses will require some form of approval prior to migrating customizations from a sandbox environment to the production environment. This allows someone knowledgeable of the current NetSuite configuration the opportunity to review/approve changes prior to their deployment.


Checklist - 9 things to think about before submitting your NetSuite sandbox refresh

Prior to submitting a NetSuite sandbox refresh request, there are a number of questions you should be asking yourself:

  • Backups - Have I confirmed that any customization/development work performed in this sandbox environment has been backed up or already migrated to production? It would be advisable to give all NetSuite sandbox users at least one week’s notice of the proposed refresh date.
  • Timing is everythingNetSuite production snapshot timing varies, but usually taken the night prior to the actual refresh request. Am I certain that the NetSuite production environment has all data/configuration to be included in the refreshed sandbox?
  • Sandbox access post refresh Have I considered the group of non-administrative users that will require sandbox access following the refresh?  You should give thought to who will require sandbox access for development/testing purposes. Consider that not all production users will require access to the sandbox.
  • Specific URL references – Certain areas of NetSuite, including custom development, require a reference to a NetSuite production URL. This could be a reference to the NetSuite file cabinet, to a specific NetSuite record or object. Consider the impact of the URL changing in your NetSuite sandbox automatically e.g. by appending the account ID with “-sb1” or something to that effect. Am I working with specific environment URL changes following the sandbox refresh? If so, it would be advisable to implement a NetSuite sandbox refresh checklist.
  • Email capture plug-ins – Similar to specific URL references, if you are using the NetSuite email capture plug-in functionality it is worth double checking email address associated with each implementation to ensure it includes the appropriate sandbox account identifier. You would not want to risk generating test emails in your sandbox environment only to find them in production. Am I using email capture plug-ins? If not certain, double check. Navigate: Customization – Plug-ins – Manage Plug-ins
  • Credit card processing – Credit card payment processing via NetSuite is becoming more and more popular. Unfortunately following a sandbox refresh you must re-enter the payment processor credentials for each profile. Have I re-entered credit card payment processor credentials? Navigate: Setup – Accounting – Financial Statements – Payment Processing Profiles

    Suite Note – You must be an assigned “Administrator” in your sandbox environment to re-enter the payment processor credentials.

  • Single Sign-on (SSO) – SSO/SAML configuration is not copied to the sandbox environment following a refresh. Have I reconfigured my SSO tool to authenticate with the newly refreshed NetSuite sandbox? If users are complaining that they are unable to access the sandbox environment following a refresh, but you have granted access, this is likely and authentication issue.
  • Token-based authentication (TBA) – Many integrations nowadays are authenticated via tokens. If you have connected sandbox environments across multiple platforms (think ERP/CRM) then timing is of the essence. You will want to create new NetSuite sandbox tokens in a timely manner to ensure integrations do not fail between these sandbox environments. Have I reset my NetSuite sandbox security tokens?

The step by step guide to refreshing your sandbox

Suite Note – You must have an active NetSuite sandbox license and be assigned the “Administrator” role in your NetSuite production account to be eligible to refresh your NetSuite sandbox.

 #1. Navigate: Setup – Company – Sandbox Accounts. This page will provide some useful information about each NetSuite sandbox you have available in your account, such as the date of last refresh as well as how many refreshes have been performed to date. Some NetSuite  customers will opt for multiple sandbox environments, for others one sandbox environment is sufficient.

#2. Click on the radio button “Administrators Only”. Non-Administrator users can be added to the environment after the fact. In line with the NetSuite production environment, sandbox access should be limited to only users that require it.

#3. “Refresh Sandbox” to kick off the process. The “Refresh Status” field will update from “Complete” to “Awaiting Processing”. Generally, allow 12-24 hours regardless of what the “Estimate Refresh Time (In Hours)” may say.

#4. Once the sandbox refresh is complete all system administrators will receive an email notification. You may now navigate to the same page and click on “Activate Sandbox”.

Suite Note – You must activate the refresh within 14 days, otherwise it will be deleted, and you will need to start the process at step (1).

#5. Your sandbox environment is now refreshed with the data copied from production at the date/time confirmed in the “Production Snapshot Date” field.

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Best practices

We have put together some guidelines for your future sandbox refreshes to maximize the benefits of leveraging this functionality and to reduce some of the administrative burden needed to initiate a successful sandbox refresh. Leverage these guidelines to build your own NetSuite sandbox refresh checklist.


  • Avoid customization overload – In other words, do not attempt to implement a large number of NetSuite customizations in the same refreshed sandbox environment. You run the risk of introducing dependencies across these customizations. Testing may prove to be successful in sandbox but fail in production if not all customizations are migrated at the same time.
  • NetSuite upgrade – Has your production environment recently been upgraded to the latest NetSuite version? If so, it might be a good time to initiate a sandbox refresh, so you are creating new customizations and testing in the latest system version.
  • Change color. Always – For some this might be obvious, but always change the color settings of your sandbox environment to differ from production. It is far too easy to forget which environment you are working in and risk making a change to the wrong environment. This applies to NetSuite customers with multiple NetSuite sandbox environments (some will have a dedicated NetSuite developer sandbox). Navigate: Home – Set Preferences – Appearance – change “Color Theme”
  • Update your shortcuts – For any NetSuite user that has configured shortcuts in their production account that reference NetSuite production specific URLs, they will need to update these references in sandbox. This should only take a few minutes following a refresh and will save on frustration further down the road when you click on a shortcut link and taken to the NetSuite login page vs the desired shortcut page.
  • Sandbox access post refresh – Intentionally repeated from questions to ask yourself. The user list very likely differs between production and sandbox environments, so you should consider exporting the list of users/roles from the sandbox environment prior to refresh. This can be achieved with a simple saved search. Post refresh, perform a quick CSV import to re-upload the users/roles to grant access in a matter of minutes. Do not do this manually unless you only have a handful of users.
  • When to refresh – It is more broadly recommended to update the NetSuite sandbox account every 3-4 months. This is not always practical, especially if larger customization projects are in flight and expected to take longer than 4 months to complete. There is often a trade off between working with the latest production data and the time needed to fully back up in-flight customizations. In short, there is no right or wrong answer here. Do what works best for your business. Bottom line, be transparent with your sandbox refresh timeline to avoid losing customizations that have not been deployed to production.

Final thoughts

If managed correctly, a NetSuite sandbox is the key to creating and deploying fully tested, customized solutions that are tailored to your business needs.

Remember, the cost of a NetSuite sandbox is variable (a fixed % of the overall NetSuite license renewal). In other words, as the business’ NetSuite footprint grows through the addition of new users and new NetSuite modules, so does the cost to maintain the sandbox environment. This should be considered by all NetSuite customers to avoid any unexpected costs upon renewal.

Do not forget to leverage your NetSuite release preview and sandbox environments in parallel. The release preview environment provides a sneak peak into the latest NetSuite version, but can also be leveraged as a short-term sandbox. Caution should be exercised given the NetSuite customer has no control over when access to the release preview environment will be removed.



FAQ:

#1. How long does a NetSuite sandbox refresh take?

Generally speaking a NetSuite sandbox refresh will take anywhere from 12-24 hours. The “Estimate Refresh Time (In Hours)” is largely inflated, so you should not be too surprised if your NetSuite sandbox refresh is complete within a few hours.

#2. How do I get a NetSuite Sandbox?

You can purchase a NetSuite sandbox license by reaching out to your NetSuite account representative. If you work with a NetSuite  Partner for your NetSuite licensing needs you should reach out to your NetSuite Partner representative.

#3. What is the NetSuite sandbox refresh cost?

It technically does not cost anything to perform a NetSuite sandbox refresh. A NetSuite standard sandbox license is procured based upon  a fixed rate of 10% of the overall NetSuite license cost (user licenses + modules). Each license is prescribed a number of refreshes, that are shared between all sandbox environments.

#4. How to allow a user to enter sandbox NetSuite?

Just as you would grant a user access to the NetSuite production environment. For direct access with user credentials, log into the NetSuite sandbox environment you wish to grant access to. Navigate: Employee record - Edit - Check “Give Access” - Assign Role(s) - Save.

If you have SSO configured for access to your NetSuite sandbox environment you may need to assign access in your SSO tool as well for authentication, or initiate the access request from the SSO tool directly.

#5. How do I reset my NetSuite sandbox to default?

Here is currently no option to restore your NetSuite sandbox to its initial refresh state. Instead a clean refresh can be performed from the production environment, so that the NetSuite sandbox mirrors the production environment as of the new refresh date.

Suite Note – Premium service tier NetSuite customers have the ability to perform a NetSuite sandbox refresh from either the production                  environment or a different sandbox environment. Even so, most sandbox refreshes will leverage production data.

Written by
Sonny Spencer, BFP, ACA

Sonny is a seasoned NetSuite veteran, with more than 7 years experience implementing NetSuite and architecting NetSuite solutions for a wide variety of public and private companies, on a global scale. He leverages his background both as a Chartered Accountant and Certified NetSuite Administrator to design and build NetSuite solutions that solve real world problems. Sonny is an active member of the NetSuite community, participating in local NetSuite meetups, NetSuite forums and groups focused on financial system optimization.

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