SaaS Backup: How to Protect Your Cloud App Data

by | Dec 13, 2018

73% of organizations say that most of their apps will be SaaS by 2020, according to a recent survey. But only a fraction of those businesses plan to deploy a SaaS backup solution. Why?

If you aren’t safeguarding your SaaS data with the same level of protection as your on-site data, then you’re leaving your business at risk.

In this post, we uncover: 1) the key vulnerabilities of SaaS, 2) how to effectively back up your data in those services, and 3) why this backup is so crucial.


Common misconceptions about SaaS

As software-as-a-service exploded over the last decade, businesses have put an inordinate amount of faith into the providers that host their app data. But often, end users and even IT folks aren’t considering all the scenarios in which data loss can occur.

Here are some common misconceptions we hear often:

  • Our apps save automatically, so we won’t lose any data.
  • We only use the “big” SaaS apps, like G Suite, so our data is safe.
  • If it’s in the cloud, it’s not vulnerable to the same disasters as our on-site data.
  • We’re diligent about backing up all our other data, so our SaaS data isn’t really a concern.
  • Our SaaS app has a recovery option, so we’re good.

Each of these statements fails to recognize how data loss typically occurs in SaaS applications (and how hard it can be to restore data without the right backup solution). And while it’s true that the biggest SaaS providers, like Google and Microsoft, have numerous safeguards to protect your SaaS data, that doesn’t mean that data loss can’t occur.


Causes of SaaS data loss

In a survey conducted by Aberdeen group, nearly a third of organizations said they’ve lost SaaS data, and the responses show that it happens for a variety of reasons.

Here’s how many businesses reported the following causes:


Accidental deletion by users (47% or respondents)

Whoops! Yes, human error can cause SaaS data loss just as it can cause other forms of data loss. We all make mistakes, after all. And admittedly, all those easy-to-use SaaS interfaces can make it almost too easy to delete important data. One wrong click and days of work can be wiped out.

Overwritten data (17%)

More human error. Whether it’s a bulk upload, a few lines of data, or a single file being overwritten, users accidentally write over SaaS data all the time. One common scenario is two or more users entering data into the SaaS app at the same time, inadvertently overwriting each other’s work.

Deletion by hackers (13%)

Your SaaS apps are not immune to cybercrime! More than one in ten organizations reported losing SaaS data to hackers who deleted it. Weak passwords and poor access-management protocols are often the culprit for these breaches.

Application closed before data saved (10%)

Seeing a pattern here? This is another example of SaaS data that can be lost due to human error, even when the platform itself has numerous safeguards to prevent data loss. If a user closes a browser tab or experiences a system malfunction before data is saved, their work is lost.

Malicious deletion (7%)

Here’s an example of where humans delete SaaS data … on purpose! The idea of a “rogue” employee may sound extreme, but a solid 7% of organizations report losing data due to their own users deleting it for malicious purposes.

Data overwritten by applications (7%)

This one may sound like the applications are to blame, but in most cases, this cause can be traced back to human error as well. Often, the data loss occurs when a third-party app is integrated. Let’s expand on this for a moment …


The dangers of third-party app integrations

Good: third-party app integrations that make your SaaS apps even smarter and more efficient for workers.

Bad: poorly configured integrations!

When users don’t know what they’re doing when integrating other apps, they run the risk of overwriting large amounts of data. This is especially true when the integration involves a large data migration. Improper settings for the migration can lead to a major data loss.


Data recovery vs. data restoration

But our SaaS provider offers data recovery,” you might say. Or, perhaps you’re using some kind of add-on SaaS backup service for emergency data recovery.

That’s good, in theory, but you have to be aware of what that recovery looks like.

When it comes to SaaS backup, data recovery often means you simply get your data back. It does NOT mean you get it back exactly the way it was within your SaaS app. As Dell explains, a mere “recovery” could mean that you’ll receive an export of “all versions of your backed-up SaaS application data [delivered as a] zipped folder containing nothing but a massive CSV file.”

Talk about a nightmare for your IT teams!

Data restoration, on the other hand, is a form of SaaS backup that restores your data within the application, exactly as it appeared at the time of backup. That’s the kind of backup you need for your cloud app data.


SaaS backup solutions & options

Some SaaS backup solutions are better than others. That said, you have a variety of options at your disposal to ensure that your data is being protected.


Backupify Cloud-to-Cloud Backup: Backupify

Backupify from Datto is our recommended solution for backing up three core SaaS suites: Office 365, G Suite and Salesforce. What we like about Backupify is that it integrates seamlessly with these services and backs up your data automatically, from one cloud to another, up to three times a day (depending on the cloud provider). And in the event of data loss, you can restore files directly to a user’s account. We’ll return to Backupify below, though it’s worth mentioning there are other similar backup solutions available from competing BC/DR providers.


Recovery by the SaaS Provider

Some SaaS applications do have some recovery options built-in, though they tend to be limited. For example, a provider may allow you to manually export your old data, but the recovery point could be a week old. Additionally, these options tend be messy as they don’t provide the full data restoration we mentioned above. Instead, you get a massive csv filled with confusing values that somebody needs to make sense of and then manually re-import into the application. Granted, your SaaS provider’s recovery option is still good to have as a last resort, but it should not be your primary backup solution.


Additional third-party backup tools

Each SaaS is different, so you’ll want to look into backup options for your specific application. Generally, the availability of a backup solution (and ease of use) depends on whether the SaaS provider allows API access to developers. If you’re using third-party tools, stick with well-known, highly rated developers, and look for tools that provide full data restoration, not merely an export recovery file.


The role of Backupify

We mentioned above how Backupify backs up data within the three major SaaS apps. Here are some examples of what it can back up in each service:

  • G Suite: Complete backup of Gmail accounts and messages, contacts, calendars and Google Drive files. Backups are automatic, 3 times a day, and fully encrypted.
  • Office 365: Complete backup of Exchange Online, SharePoint, contacts, calendars and OneDrive files. Automatic backups up to 3 times a day, and data is encrypted both in transit and at rest.
  • Salesforce: Complete backup of all data, objects, attachments, files, metadata and Chatter messages. Daily backups are automatic and can also be initiated manually at any time. Full data restoration puts recovered data right back where it belongs within the app.


Backupify’s data encryption and other security measures also help businesses comply with regulatory standards, like HIPAA and Safe Harbor.


Best practices for SaaS backup

Beyond a SaaS backup solution, what else can you do to prevent data loss within your cloud apps?

Here are a few best practices:

  • Establish a SaaS disaster recovery plan, so that your recovery protocols and plans are fully developed and available to response teams.
  • Make sure you have service-level agreements with your SaaS providers and/or managed-service providers, particularly if data recovery will be handled by one of those providers.
  • Test your SaaS backup and recovery tools on a regular basis to ensure they will work as designed when a real-world data-loss event occurs.
  • Since each SaaS app is unique, make sure each has its own appropriate backup solution and recovery plan.
  • Properly train employees on best practices for using SaaS apps, migrating data, saving updates and managing third-party integrations.
  • Leverage any settings within your SaaS apps that can help prevent data loss, such as automatic saves, session expiration limits, data migration and so on.


Protect your SaaS data

See how SaaS backup from Backupify can protect the data within your cloud applications. Request a free demo or contact our business continuity professionals at Invenio IT for more information. Call (646) 395-1170 or email

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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!

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