SaaS data recovery vs. data restoration: what’s the difference?

by | Jan 14, 2019

Losing data from a SaaS application can create a headache for your IT teams, not to mention a drain on the company’s bottom line. If the loss is great enough, it can cause business-threatening downtime, potentially disrupting your operations.

So, how do you prevent it?

The first step is implementing a SaaS backup solution. This ensures you’ll have access to a backup copy of your cloud data in the event of a disaster. But how you recover that data is equally important.

Simply having a backup is one thing. Being able to restore it neatly back into the SaaS application is another.

Here’s what we mean.

Uh oh. Somebody messed up again…

Jim from the Sales team has just added a third-party app to Salesforce. Under normal conditions, this wouldn’t be so bad. Good Salesforce integrations can help your teams work smarter and more efficiently.

But, unfortunately, Jim botched the integration. He misconfigured the settings and in the process he wiped out two weeks’ worth of data within Salesforce, including updates to customer records, recent sales and so on.

“No worries!” Jim assures his boss, because he knows that Salesforce can provide a backup.

But when he sees what that backup actually looks like, Jim (and his boss) aren’t so happy. All the data is dumped in a giant, messy CSV export. It’s not even clear what the data is, where it goes or how to get it back into the application.

Beth from IT is tasked to figure it all out, but even then it takes a week until the data is fully restored. In the end, the whole incident is a costly mess – all because of a simple third-party integration gone wrong.


SaaS Data restoration vs. data recovery

While it’s true that Salesforce and some other SaaS applications may provide a backup in an emergency, the ability to restore these backups into the application is usually very limited.

That’s the key difference between backups that provide data recovery and those that offer full data restoration.

  • Data recovery, in this sense, refers to a barebones process of merely recovering raw data from a backup – i.e. via a CSV file exported from the application.
  • Data restoration refers to not only recovery but also the process of restoring the data back into the application, so that it appears as it did originally, with little to no manual effort needed.

Don’t get us wrong. A raw data recovery is not useless. On the contrary, it’s an essential last resort for SaaS backup. If you have zero other backup options available to you, it’s still better to have some form of data recovery than to have no backup at all.

However, for a much faster and painless recovery, then you absolutely want full data restoration.


What data restoration looks like

Let’s return to the Salesforce example above.

Robust SaaS apps like Salesforce are designed to take a ton of important data—customer info, calendars, sales, tasks, activities and so on—and display it neatly on screen in a way that’s easy to understand and navigate.

But when you take away the interface, things are much more complex.

You’re left with all these different data points, each mapped to different categories, locations and other datasets. And that’s basically what you see when you export a backup from the application: the raw data in a massive, complicated spreadsheet.

Data restoration goes beyond a mere recovery by putting the data back where it belongs in the application. So for example, a customer account is fully restored along with all the data associated with it: contact information, activities, previous sales, Chatter messages and so on.


The problem with raw data recovery

In an interview highlighted by Dell, Jeff Erramouspe, general manager at Spanning, explained how raw data recovery falls short in comparison to backup tools that provide full restoration: “Backup tools that ‘recover’ data by merely retrieving all versions of all your backed-up data for you to sort through are of little value when the priority is to have everything back the way it was before, as soon as possible.”

Putting that data back into the right places, manually, can be like looking for a needle in a haystack, Erramouspe said. It’s a painstaking and time-consuming process, which eats up your IT resources and thus also costs the company more money.

Additionally, manually importing the data comes with a lot of risk for error. If the data isn’t restored in the right places, it creates costly inaccuracies across the application.


What about SaaS apps like G Suite and O365?

Same story.

Even if you’ve lost a single file in Google Drive or Office 365’s OneDrive, it’s not a matter of simply recovering the file. Which version? From what date? With what file structures or sharing settings?

All of this granularity needs to be taken into account. And the only way to ensure 100% accuracy is to use a backup solution that fully restores everything (the file and all associated metadata) into the app, and into the appropriate user’s account, so that it appears exactly as it was before the file was deleted.


But how realistic is it that Salesforce will lose my data?

Not very. But it is realistic that you will.

SaaS providers like Salesforce, Google and Microsoft go to great lengths to safeguard your data. It’s unlikely that their platforms will lose, delete or compromise your data.

The real threat is you and your users.

Human error is the single greatest cause of data loss within SaaS applications. In a 2013 survey, 47% of companies said their employees had accidentally deleted SaaS data in the previous year.  17% had accidentally overwritten data. Others lost data when users closed the browser before saving, or when rogue employees deleted data on purpose, or when third-party applications overwrote data.

See a pattern? In each of these scenarios, the end user was ultimately at fault.

Your SaaS applications don’t know that these data deletions are accidental. They’re simply working as designed, responding to the user’s commands. This is why it’s ultimately your responsibility to back up your SaaS data: so that when accidents inevitably happen, you have the ability to restore it.


Restoring the file versions you needed

One of the benefits of managing documents in Google Drive and OneDrive is the ability to view version history. You can see how documents have changed, when they were changed and by whom. And reverting back to any of those versions is a snap.

But when you delete the document, this flexibility putters out pretty quickly. In OneDrive, you do have the ability to restore the document for a limited time, but only the most recent version—not the previous versions. Additionally, after the default retention period ends, the file is no longer able to be restored. It’s gone for good.

A good SaaS backup solution will ensure you have not only a backup copy of the document, but also its version history, allowing you to restore the exact copy you need.


What to look for

Full data restoration is an important functionality to have in a SaaS backup solution, but there are other features you should be looking for as well.

Applications like Salesforce aren’t just limited in how the data is recovered. They’re limited in how the data is backed up, how often and how long it’s retained. These limitations will ultimately hinder your ability to maintain continuity when data loss occurs.

An ideal SaaS backup solution is one that:

  • Backs up all data within the SaaS application (including metadata)
  • Performs backups automatically
  • Give you control over backup frequency and retention
  • Restores data seamlessly back into the application with little to no manual work required
  • Keeps you in compliance with regulatory guidelines for handling data (i.e. HIPAA)


How Backupify backs up your SaaS data

Backupify from Datto is a cloud-to-cloud SaaS backup solution, meaning that it backs up data from your SaaS provider’s cloud and copies it to Datto’s cloud.

Backupify currently works with three SaaS platforms: G Suite, Office 365 and Salesforce. It’s an ideal solution for any business that keeps critical data with these platforms, as it provides automatic backups (up to three times a day) and full data restoration.

For Salesforce, it backs up all account data, objects, metadata, files and even Chatter messages. For O365 and G Suite, it protects all email, contacts and Drive files.


Data restoration in Backupify

Backupify makes SaaS backup seamless, especially when it comes to recovery. The interface has a powerful search feature that makes it easy to locate missing data, files and folders. When you find what you need, it only takes a few clicks to restore those items back to the user’s account or to the administrator’s own computer.

Even if the SaaS app, such as Salesforce, is down, you can still access your backup within Backupify’s independent interface.

So whether Jim from Sales has just deleted large swaths of customer data again, or Salesforce itself has experienced a rare catastrophe, you know your data is safe in Backupify, ready to be restored.

That’s the way SaaS backup should be.


Take a closer look at Backupify

Request a free demo of Backupify to see how it can protect the critical data in your SaaS applications. For more information, contact our business continuity specialists at Invenio IT by calling (646) 395-1170 or emailing

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!