Some common terms have specific meanings in the context of Fivetran documentation.
When we talk about your account, we mean your Fivetran account. You can manage your account using your Fivetran dashboard. When we need to talk about a source or destination account, we call it out by name (for example, your Jira account or your BigQuery account). See also Fivetran dashboard.
Alerts appear on your Fivetran dashboard to give you important information about your Fivetran account. There are two types of alerts: tasks and warnings. Tasks inform you about actions you must take to fix your connectors or transformations. Warnings inform you that something is wrong but is not disrupting your syncs. See also task and warning.
A Fivetran connector is a data pipeline that moves data from your source to your destination. For example, a Salesforce connector moves your data from Salesforce to your destination. Sometimes you might have multiple connectors of the same type. For example, you might have multiple Google Sheets connectors, each moving data from a different Google Sheet.
The cursor is the marker that lets us know where the last Fivetran sync left off in your source data. When we start the next sync, we use the cursor to decide where to begin syncing again. You could think of the cursor as a metaphorical bookmark in your data that lets us start reading where we left off.
The cursor takes different forms depending on the source. For example, in Salesforce, it refers to the last updated timestamp on a particular endpoint, and in PostgreSQL, it refers to an entry in the database’s Write-ahead Logs.
Previously known as data warehouse
Fivetran connectors replicate your source data to a destination system. Fivetran currently supports two destination types - data warehouses and data lakes. See our documentation for a list of supported destinations.
Your Fivetran dashboard is the web-based control center for your Fivetran account. Your dashboard provides a comprehensive overview of your account details, including all your connectors and billing information. From your dashboard, you can create and edit connectors, manage your destination, add transformations, add and delete users, upload new schema files, review logs, view alerts, and much more. The best way to learn about the dashboard is to explore it yourself. Your view of the dashboard varies depending on your user permissions. Navigate to https://fivetran.com/dashboard/ in any browser and log in to your Fivetran account to access your Fivetran dashboard.
During a historical sync for a connector, Fivetran connects to your source and copies the entire contents of every table that you’ve selected to sync. Historical syncs include all your selected data, including data that is old. How long the historical sync takes depends on the amount of data and the limitations of your source. For example, some sources only allow a limited number of API calls.
A connector’s first-ever historical sync is called an initial sync.
Also known as incremental update
Incremental syncs update only new or modified data. After the initial sync, Fivetran connectors sync most tables using incremental updates. We use a variety of mechanisms to capture the changes in the source data, depending on how the source provides change data. During incremental syncs, Fivetran maintains an internal set of progress cursors, which let us track the exact point where our last successful sync left off. Incremental syncs are efficient because they update only the changed data, instead of re-importing whole tables.
An initial sync is a connector’s first-ever historical sync. Initial syncs do not count towards your monthly active rows.
When Fivetran normalizes data, we organize the data into tables and columns in a way that reduces data redundancy and stores it logically. Normalization divides larger tables into smaller tables and links them using relationships, according to specific rules.
A full re-sync completely overwrites the data in your destination with new data from your source. A table re-sync lets you overwrite the data in a specific table so that you can fix data integrity issues in selected tables without re-syncing the entire connector. Normally, Fivetran uses incremental updates to sync data from your source to your destination, so we only sync data that has changed. However, sometimes the data in your destination and your source get out of sync. Then you need to overwrite existing data in your destination to make it consistent with the source, and a re-sync lets you do that. Read more about our re-sync feature. See also incremental sync.
A table or endpoint that can not be synced incrementally must be completely synced every time. We call this operation a reimport. There is an alert in the schema configuration screen in the UI for reimport tables that are known to be slow. Some connectors with many reimport tables, like Netsuite, have special logic to only sync reimport tables once a day or once a week. The alert in schema configuration screen will explain if this is the case.
A database schema defines how the data is organized in a database. It contains the different tables, their fields, and the relationship between tables. When you create a new Fivetran connector, you choose the name that the schema will have and Fivetran creates it in your destination. For most sources, each connector results in one schema in your destination. Database sources are the exception because a single database connector can replicate multiple schemas. Read more about how database connectors handle multiple source schemas.
A source is a specific database, application, file storage service, event tracking service, or function from which you wish to sync your data. Some examples of sources are MongoDB, Salesforce, or Google Sheets. Sometimes we will pull data in different ways for a single source, such as Adobe Analytics with our unique Adobe Analytics and Adobe Analytics Data Feed connectors. This isn’t very common, but in this case we also refer to each way of pulling data as a unique source.
A task is a type of alert in your Fivetran dashboard that tells you about an action you must take to fix your connectors or transformations. We also generate a notification email to let you know about the task. Fivetran creates a task when the problem with your connector or transformation is caused by something that’s on your side. For example, if you have set insufficient permissions in your source and Fivetran can’t sync your data, we generate a task that tells you about the problem and what permissions you must set. See also alert and warning.
Transformations are SQL scripts that are executed on your data based on specific events or conditions. Transformations map incoming data into a specific shape that is easier or faster to use in the next part of your data pipeline. Fivetran uses the term “transformation” to refer to two different types of reshaping:
Pre-load transformations: Fivetran performs some minor transformations on your data before we load it into your destination.
Post-load transformations: Fivetran offers a feature called Transformations, which supports custom transformations in the destination after your data is loaded.
Warnings are a type of alert in your Fivetran dashboard that tell you about a problem with your connector that you may need to fix but that is not disrupting your data syncs. For example, a warning might tell you that we were unable to sync specific tables or columns because you are still using a column that has been deprecated by your application’s API. See also alert and task.