Salesforce Download Documentation
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Record Change Detection

Changed records in Salesforce are identified based on the SystemModStamp field. This is updated for any change to a record. This can include simply viewing a record as this updates the LastViewedDate field. Therefore the incremental download may identify records as changed even if no material change has occurred.

Also note that some changes may update a lot of records unexpectedly. For example changing a picklist value description will trigger a change to every record that uses that picklist value. This may trigger large downloads for objects using the incremental method.