Google Vault Is Not a Backup Solution: Setting the Record Straight


The cloud is no longer a buzz word, and anyone who isn’t already there will be soon. A recent Gartnersurvey found that a full 80 percent of organizations plan to use cloud services in the next year. While the cloud has established itself in IT, misconceptions remain that could result in costly mishaps. When organizations think cloud, they need to also think backup and recovery for their SaaS applications. Backup and recovery is important for preventing data loss, maintaining business continuity and meeting compliance requirements.

Unfortunately, many organizations that have implemented Google Apps don’t have a backup and recovery solution in place and may look to add Google Apps Vault to address their data protection needs. While Vault offers email archiving and eDiscovery capabilities, it is not a complete backup service; Vault is an add-on for the Google Apps cloud service.

Vault was developed to assist lawyers with litigation and compliance audits. The service allows users to retain, search, archive and export Gmail, and on-the-record chat for eDiscovery purposes. It does not provide direct restore capabilities, but rather allows administrators and named auditors to search for information and export it locally. Vault is not designed to backup or directly restore data in the rest of the services in Google Apps, including Drive, Calendar, Sites and Contacts.

Without a proper SaaS backup and recovery solution for the entire Google Apps suite, companies are leaving vast amounts of data vulnerable to data loss and increasing the risk of lost productivity and failed compliance audits. Major issues can result for any business that relies on Vault as a makeshift backup solution. Doing so leaves Google Drive, Sites, precious contacts and other information vulnerable and doesn’t make much sense.

What’s more, if a company deletes a user in Google Apps, all the data associated with the user’s account will be removed from Google, along with that user’s Vault archive. As stated on Google’s support site: “If a user leaves your organization and you want to continue preserving that user’s data in Google Apps Vault, a Google Apps administrator should suspend the user’s account. Email data is preserved for a suspended account, but the account can receive no new mail. Note that suspended accounts are billed the same as active accounts.”

To prevent these issues, specific SaaS application backup and recovery services address the data protection concerns for all Google Apps – Gmail, Drive, Calendar, Site, Chat and Contacts. Spanning Cloud Apps is one provider that offers backup and recovery for the Google Apps suite. Spanning offers features that Vault does not, such as: backup, full restore and export of Drive, Gmail, Calendar, Contacts and Sites; point-in-time multi-item restore; whole account export; restore folder/site structure; and end-user self-service.

How does a company decide which service is needed if both aren’t in their budget? If a business needs communications archiving and litigation holds for eDiscovery and information governance purposes, Vault is the right choice. If a business wants to keep all of the data in Google Apps protected from data loss, and enable administrators and end users to easily find and restore critical information, a cloud application backup and recovery tool is the best option. Vault and backup and recovery solutions for Google Apps can and should be used in conjunction.

It’s not always an either/or decision. When determining the right solution, it’s important to understand the user, the business need and the ability of each tool to meet those needs.