Backup and Recovery

How To Recover Deleted Records in ServiceNow

April 20, 2022

Although it's probably not something you want to think about, your organization is likely to suffer a data loss at some point. In a recent study, we found that three out of four respondents experienced a data loss or corruption incident in the last 12 months. More often than not, this is caused by simple human error, such as accidentally deleting records.

Since you are ultimately responsible for the data you keep in SaaS applications like ServiceNow, it’s important to understand your data recovery options when using the platform. ServiceNow provides customers with several options to restore lost data, which we outline in detail below.

Methods to recover data in ServiceNow

Delete Recovery module

The Delete Recovery module,  part of the Rollback & Recovery tools, allows you to restore deleted records and related changes within 7 days.

  1. Access the Delete Recovery module (Rollback & Recovery > Delete Recovery).
  2. Locate the record that represents the data you want to restore. 
  3. To restore the records, click the “Rollback…” UI action. Type in “yes” to confirm your choice.
  4. You will see a dialog box that shows the progress of the recovery action. Once it completes, click “Close.”

Deleted Records module

The Deleted Records module can be used to recover deleted records that are in audited tables.

  1. Navigate to Deleted Records (System Definition > Deleted Records)
  2. Locate the record you want to restore.
  3. Click the “Undelete Record” button.

Note: Cascade-deleted records can only be restored for seven days after being deleted. After this time, records can still be restored, but references will only be restored if the host table audits deletions.


Tables that extend sys_metadata like business rules or UI policies are considered “application files”. Deletions of records on these tables can be recovered from sys_metadata_delete.

  1. Type sys_metadata_delete.list into the filter navigator and hit ‘Enter’ (or use .LIST at the end to create a new tab).
  2. Locate the record you want to restore.
  3. Click the “Restore File” (Note: Files deleted due to the deletion of this file will be restored as well.).

Restore entire instance from the last backup

It’s important to note that the data will only be available to restore for 28 days, since that is the maximum retention period that ServiceNow allows. For data that is older than 28 days, your last resort is to work directly with Now Support to restore the entire instance from the last full backup. ServiceNow cautions there is always the potential for data loss because anything saved after the backup was taken is lost.

Limitations of ServiceNow's recovery capabilities

While ServiceNow’s recovery options do provide some business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities, there are some significant limitations:

  • Retention periods: Within ServiceNow, you can retain backups of your production instance for up to 28 days, which you cannot extend.
  • Storage Cost: Instances usually have a 4TB size limit with additional storage purchasable in 1TB chunks. So the more copies of data you make, the more it costs.
  • Recovery time: To recover your entire instance, you need to work with ServiceNow support, which could take up to several days, depending on the size of your environment. 
  • Data corruption detection: Unless a database is inaccessible or a user reports an issue, administrators have no way of knowing data has been deleted or corrupted.
  • Granularity: Restore processes are designed to replace an entire database. Recovering specific data requires the use of the non intuitive modules mentioned above or manual work.

Automate the recovery process in ServiceNow

While ServiceNow provides industry-leading workflow management solutions, they do not have the same expertise when it comes to data recovery. That’s where OwnBackup can help. 

With OwnBackup, run daily, scheduled backups of all of your data, and attachments with the click of a button to back up any or all data at any time instantly. If you suspect data did get changed inadvertently, or you made an error, we make it easy to pinpoint additions, deletions, or changes. Then, should you need to restore data, you can go back in time to restore the exact data you need with just a few clicks.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

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