The Importance of Backups particularly when using Cloud based Applications

It is best standard practice to backup your data. Business owners owe a fiduciary responsibility to ensure that this is properly done otherwise it can open up the business to negligence claims. Usually several copies of data are stored locally for operational recovery and copies are sent off-site (electronically or physically) for disaster recovery. Businesses are increasingly sending critical data to cloud based applications (known as software-as-a-service (SaaS)) such as an online email exchange service or accounting application providers. According to a recent research paper by global research and advisory firm Forrester Research Inc, it is projected that by 2015, companies will be using up to 66 providers each. Whilst there has been a continual growth of the use of SaaS, alarmingly most businesses do not have a proper plan for data retrieval and data recovery. It is important to understand that many SaaS providers will not restore lost data for their users and if and when they do they charge a premium. So, it is critical for businesses to ensure that a proper plan is set in place to mitigate the risk of losing cloud data. The simplest way to do this is to backup the data. The most common ways business loses data in the cloud include:
  • Migration errors where data is lost during the migration process either by sync inaccuracies, human error or overwriting of data.
  • Accidental deletion particularly when the problem is left undetected and the data “ages out” of the trash can. It can also be caused by accidentally overwriting of the correct copy with incorrect information. Many cloud platforms cannot fix this problem easily.
  • Malicious insiders such as disgruntled employees or contractors consciously and maliciously destroying data. The degree of damage will depend on the authorisation and access granted to the user.
  • Rogue applications in the form of add-on applications which corrupt, delete or duplicate existing data. This is a real threat considering for example’s AppExchange now boasts almost 2,000 apps and 1.9 million installs.
  • Departing employees and closing down of accounts often means closing down of access to associated data. It is important that there is a backup of the data prior to deactivation.
What is the cost of not backing up your data for your business? Many SaaS providers will not recover data for customers and when they do it is a very costly exercise. For example, will charge a minimum of $10,000 to recover customer data. Even then, it will usually take several weeks. Always ask your SaaS providers about their data recovery policies. If they do not have an in built data recovery service then you should engage a third party backup provider to manage this for you. During the past few years, a new class of backup software provider has emerged known as cloud-to-cloud data backup providers. A highly recommended cloud-to-cloud backup provider which we use for our clients is Spanning Backup. As most of our customers are using Google Apps, Spanning works hand in hand to ensure all the users data is backed up. This includes the backup of whole user profiles, emails sent/received, email folders, contacts, calendar appointments and all the data in Google Drive. Spanning is versatile as it allows users to easily restore the data themselves or for designated administrators to do this for them. As a Spanning and Google Apps partner, Onsite Helper ensures the systems are setup correctly and educate the relevant people on data restoration processes. The cost of the Spanning service is $40 per user per year for businesses which is highly affordable. Spanning also offers backup of This is fantastic considering that businesses without backups can be subject to at least a $10,000 fee and weeks of stress when data is lost. It is also recommended that businesses create a DRP (Disaster Recovery Plan) and simulate the disaster to test it works. The DRP should include: 1. A list of places where important business data is being stored in the Cloud such as Google Apps or Salesforce. 2. The process of how to restore the data including time frames for the recovery. 3. All the login credentials for the providers and support contact details if the issue needs to be escalated. 4. How often the DRP is tested/simulated for example once per year, once per quarter. 5. Where the DRP document is located. I personally have a hard copy which is stored in the server/IT room of my clients’ business. For more information on cloud to cloud data backups, please contact Onsite Helper on 03 9999 3106 or

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