5 solutions for backing up critical SaaS data

by | Jan 9, 2019

SaaS backup has become an essential component of business continuity and disaster recovery (BC/DR). But not all SaaS backup solutions are made equal.

If you’re using cloud-based apps at your organization, then it’s not only critical that you seamlessly integrate them with something like PieSync, but that you’re backing up the data within those apps and can recover it quickly when needed. The question is: what’s the best way to do it?

Below, we look at 5 unique options and tips to help you identify the right solution for your needs.

 

What to look for

There’s plenty to consider when evaluating SaaS backup solutions, especially when the data within those apps is critical to your day-to-day operations.

As you compare options, here are some key questions to ask:

  • Which of our SaaS applications can be protected?
  • Is the backup automatic or manual?
  • How often can backups be performed?
  • What does recovery look like? Full data restoration or only a raw data export?
  • Does it help your business meet regulatory compliance?
  • Where is the data backed up: on site or in the cloud?

Don’t assume that your SaaS provider’s built-in backup service will meet your needs when data loss actually occurs. As we address below, these backups tend to be very limited, particularly when it comes to restoring your data in the app.

 

The dangers of lost SaaS data

Losing SaaS data can be just as disruptive to your business as any other form of data loss. The immediate result is a loss in productivity, as users and IT managers scramble to locate and restore the missing data. And with each minute they spend on this recovery, your company is effectively spending money that should be going to other important tasks.

All it takes is one accidentally deleted file in G Suite or an important Outlook email to create a disruption like this.

And, what about a much bigger SaaS data loss? What if a large swath of critical application data is overwritten within your SaaS? How would it impact your operations? How long would it take to recover? How costly would it be?

As more organizations move to SaaS, the stakes become higher: protecting that data is vital to maintaining business continuity.

 

5 SaaS backup solutions, compared

So let’s look at some of the various tools and technologies available for backing up data within your SaaS applications. Again, not all of these solutions will be ideal for your needs, so it’s important to understand the differences.

 

1) Built-in SaaS backup: The last resort

Some SaaS providers keep partial backups of the data you enter into their applications. That’s technically a good thing – but it doesn’t mean you should rely on that feature as your sole method of backup.

There are typically some major limitations in these backup methods, such as:

  • Limited data retention: Generally the backup only includes recent changes, so if you need to revert to an earlier state, you’re out of luck.
  • Limited control over backup: You also generally have little control over when those backups are performed, what data they include or how long they’re retained.
  • Data recovery only: Built-in SaaS backup functionality generally does not provide full data restoration. Instead, you only get a data export with everything dumped into a giant .csv file.
  • Manual restoration: When the recovery entails only a giant export, your tech folks then have to decipher all the data and painstakingly import it back into the app. This process only extends your operational downtime even further.

Here’s the thing … if you have zero other backup methods available to you, for whatever the reason, then by all means use whatever recovery method is offered by the SaaS provider. It may be a last resort, but it’s better than having no backup at all.

 

2) Backup app integrations: Better, but it kinda depends.

Depending on the SaaS platform, you may have access to a list of third-party integrations, extensions, plug-ins—whatever they’re referred to by the provider.

This is a good first step to finding a reliable SaaS backup solution, but you have to look at your options carefully.

Some questions to ask, right off the bat:

  • Is the integration offered by a reputable third-party developer?
  • Are there any reviews or ratings from companies who have used or tested the integration?
  • Is the integration officially approved by the SaaS provider, and if so, how has it been evaluated for things like security and potential malware?

Obviously, you never want to integrate any third-party app from an untrusted source, because by doing so, you’re basically giving the app full access to all your data within the SaaS. So checking the credibility of the third party is a priority.

After you know the integration is legit, the next step is making sure it actually meets your backup needs. You’ll want to verify some of the capabilities we mentioned above, such as:

  • Data retention policy
  • Backup frequency
  • Recovery vs. restoration
  • Ability to configure the backups

 

3) Backupify: Recommended SaaS backup

Backupify takes SaaS backup further than the options above and provides a more robust solution, backed by one of the biggest names in BC/DR: Datto.

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So far, Backupify works with three major SaaS platforms: 1) Salesforce, 2) G Suite and 3) Office 365.

We like it not only because it provides secure, automatic backups of your critical SaaS data, but also because recovery is quick, simple and reliable. For example, lost files within Google Drive or OneDrive can be restored to the user’s account (or another user’s device) instantly.

Key features and capabilities:

  • Automatic backups up to 3 times a day
  • Customizable backup retention period
  • Complete backup of email accounts, files, contacts, calendars and Salesforce data
  • HIPAA compliant and SOC2 Type II audited
  • Vulnerability testing and management

Backupify’s interface is also very simple, making it easy to find the data you need to recover. It’s a “cloud-to-cloud backup” solution, which means your data is seamlessly replicated from your SaaS provider’s cloud to the Datto Cloud.

 

4) Competing SaaS backup solutions: Services and features vary

There are several other well-known names in BC/DR that offer SaaS backup solutions similar to Backupify’s, including Veritas, StorageCraft, Veeam and NetApp, just to name a few.

Each of these solutions has its own list of features and capabilities, so it’s important to drill down to the details. If you’re comparing options, remember to cross-check the attributes we’ve mentioned above, like control over configuration, data retention and the recovery process.

Also, do your homework on each provider’s cloud. How secure is it? Where are the datacenters located? What security controls are in place? You may discover, for example, that some backup solutions look very similar in their feature sets but are actually quite different when you compare the security of their clouds.

 

5) Custom solution with API access: Not bad, if you know how

If your SaaS allows API access, then chances are a third-party backup solution already exists. If so, it’s up to you to research those options and ensure that the technology is secure. But here’s another option you may want to consider …

If there is API access but no third-party tools available, you could theoretically build your own solution. This would allow you to customize the backup to your liking and even integrate it into your existing BC/DR infrastructure. Granted, this assumes that you have tech folks who know how to do this and that the API gives you access to all the data you need to back up.

 

What if there is no backup tool for our SaaS application?

Unfortunately, many commonly used SaaS platforms do not offer any backup options for end users, either through the provider or via a third-party tool.

Take QuickBooks Online, for example. The SaaS-based accounting software reportedly has more than 2 million small-business users worldwide. QuickBooks says “automatic backups are performed every night,” but users have no control or access to those backups, and the company also emphasizes “We cannot restore your file to a previous point in time.”

What can you do in cases like this?

If backing up your cloud data isn’t possible, then the best you can do is try to limit your risk of data loss. Here are some tips that can help:

  • Restrict SaaS access to only the users that need it as part of their job function. This tip mostly applies to specialized applications, like an accounting SaaS, that would only need to be used by employees within a single department.
  • Implement employee policies and training on how to use SaaS applications securely.
  • Prohibit third-party integrations and data migrations unless authorized or overseen by a manager. This will help prevent accidental data loss and/or overwritten data.
  • Configure SaaS settings, if available, to save users’ work automatically to prevent loss from unexpectedly ended sessions (i.e. a browser being closed).
  • If available, perform manual data exports from the application on a regular basis.

 

Learn more about your options

Take a closer look at SaaS backup from Backupify to see how you can protect the data within your cloud apps. Request a free demo or contact our business continuity professionals at Invenio IT. Call (646) 395-1170 or email [email protected].

Tracy Rock is the Director of Marketing at Invenio IT. Tracy is responsible for all media-related initiatives as well as external communications—including, branding, public relations, promotions, advertising and social media. She is one busy lady and we are lucky to have her!