Comparing functionality of Salesforce Files vs Attachments

Written by: Kyle Hagan

The self-proclaimed "Lord of the Nerd Herd", Kyle is a Salesforce developer and admin with experience in javascript, HTML Apex, and various other Salesforce elements. He is Conga product certified, which means he know lots of sales based processes. While at FirmWorks, Kyle helped pilot the design and development of FirmWorks Files and Notes.

September 7, 2023

Salesforce and file storage have always had a rocky relationship.

Historically, adding new files to your org was an extremely limited functionality in Salesforce. Documents are an integral part of storing information in a CRM, so stunting the CRM content by not fully supporting the addition of documents was not ideal. But darkness always comes before dawn, and files are the light of the future!


Many industry experts and gurus have argued that Salesforce Files is superior and more functional to Notes and Attachments, and I think our friends over at Salesforce Ben said it best, “Don’t get stuck in the past; Files are the future, and the future is here.”

If you’re just hearing about Salesforce Files for the first time— welcome to the future!

Files allow us to version documents, share them with groups, and facilitate external links with expiration dates and more. They can be referenced in chatter to facilitate easier communication references between records in the system.

And despite their heavy crossover with Salesforce Lightening, Files can also be used in Salesforce Classic, though with lesser functionality.


There are very few reasons to choose Salesforce Attachments over Salesforce Files—

Salesforce Attachments have less storage than Files, with 25 MB compared to 2 GB, respectively, and Attachments do not support versioning and can only be downloaded and viewed.

Additional comparisons between the two can be seen in the Salesforce Documentation here, but suffice it to say, if your organization does not regularly use documents or need the additional support of Salesforce Files, attachments may be easier to just pick up and go.


Unfortunately, Notes and Attachments is being, “superseded and replaced” by Salesforce Files, and any new org will start with the new architecture. But fret not, our friends, Salesforce Files can be used with many distinct functions that make it easier than before to ensure everything you need is in one place.

Do you have files located in OneDrive or Google Drive? Then Files Connect may be a wise choice for you. This tool allows you to upload and preview files from external systems as part of the file upload process. In addition, these files are represented by data in your system, so they behave like real files.


Files appear as attachments accessible from the email front end in Chatter. They are also accessible from APT and Flows to allow admins and developers to set up Content Document-based attachment lists for users to choose from before they send or automate, as part of the normal business processes.


Are you concerned about who can see your files? Worry not! Salesforce Files allows you to share a multitude of ways.

Internally, you can use Salesforce out-of-box object sharing via profiles, roles, and rules like normal. When a file is uploaded, Content Document Links are created to allow you to have a single file referenced in multiple places, saving storage space in your org.

If you need to share a file externally, look no further than Public Links. Public Links allow you to share files with anyone anywhere, set passwords for secure access, and even set expiration dates if you want to make the files terminable based on date.

Are the attachments related list, page layout, general settings, or reporting for documents getting you down? Unfortunately, the buck stops there for out-of-box Salesforce Files functionality, but The Appexchange has your back!

There are tons of great tools, both free and paid, that you can install to make file management a more bespoke experience. Let’s delve into one right now!


FirmWorks Files is our Salesforce native tool, available in The Appexchange, that allows users to customize the upload files experience and facilitate the organization and visibility of those files.


Our tagging LWCs (lightning web components) utilize custom fields, or tags, created by you to help provide context to the files you upload. No more set it and forget it. Allowing your users to click a button to unlock a fully curated file upload experience allows for fewer instances of human error. In addition, the tags are automatically set, so the attached files have context immediately.


Our visibility LWC’s enable customization of the interface where users interact with files. From discovery to taxonomy, these components give your end users the perfect way to interact with and view all files important to you and your company.


Our reporting LWC’s make auditing your org’s files a breeze. Have you ever wondered if you were missing essential files? How would you identify missing files using the salesforce front end as is? Usually, it would require extensive SOQL or Apex code knowledge.

File reporting is a declarative feature that allows you to choose an object type you want to identify files for and select file types, file size, and any number of other tags to determine if files exist or, more importantly, if they are missing.


Furthermore, FirmWorks Files’ automation tools allow you to schedule your file reports to ensure issues are identified long before they result in costly downtime, fines, or lawsuits. Read more about compliance reporting with FirmWorks Files, here.

It is important to remember all this functionality is only available because Salesforce Files allows for a more complex and interactive Salesforce docs experience. So, if you are still debating between Salesforce Attachments or Salesforce Files for your organization’s needs, remember that you cannot achieve the same level of complexity in your document management with Attachments.

For a free 30-day trial of FirmWorks Files, visit us on The Appexchange. If you have questions about specific features or how you could leverage FirmWorks Files in your org, get in touch with us here.

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