4 SaaS Data Backup Best Practices for Businesses using the Cloud
Data loss. These words that can send shivers down the spine, and hearing them often evokes images of work stoppages, customer outrage, and public relations nightmares that follow.
That’s why backup and recovery has long been a business best practice and why auditing standards have evolved to ensure organizations that generate and manage data do so responsibly and reliably. The race to cloud, while significantly changing the way we think about managing and sharing data, should not change the significance placed upon backup and recovery.
Many organizations leveraging the cloud wrongfully assume that cloud vendors have backup and recovery covered for them, but the truth is, these activities remain incumbent upon every organization, regardless of where their data is managed, accessed, or stored. No company, industry, or geographic region is exempt from data loss, and without a complete backup solution, anyone can fall victim. According to the World Backup Day 2015 report, the banking, energy, manufacturing, financial, IT, retail, insurance, and pharmaceutical sectors suffered a combined loss of $13.4 million at the hands of data loss.
This article will help you understand four SaaS data backup best practices for businesses of all shapes and sizes so that your organization doesn’t join the ranks of those who learned the hard way just how important SaaS data protection can be.
1. Keep more than one copy in the cloud.
Conventional wisdom for managing data on premises is to have multiple copies of data stored in multiple distinct locations. The same logic holds true when extended to the cloud. You’ll want to have a separate copy of all your cloud application data stored securely in a different cloud structure for safekeeping. Why is this cloud-to-cloud model your best bet for keeping data safe?
If you have already migrated to the cloud to save money, enhance collaboration, and be more agile, why would you reverse these strides and savings by managing backups using on-premises infrastructure that requires considerable internal resources to manage? Cloud-to-cloud backup lets you continue leveraging the benefits of the cloud while keeping a copy of your SaaS data in a separate, secure cloud structure that ensures the integrity of data even if something happens in the original cloud server.
Most cloud vendors like Google, Salesforce, or Microsoft have extremely high standards for security and redundancy. But, just in case an emergency (like a natural disaster) causes your data to disappear, it’s a good idea to copy your information into another cloud structure to ensure the safety and availability of your data.
Even in the cloud, organizations must be prepared to answer to compliance standards surrounding data management and accessibility. Cloud-to-cloud backup helps organizations pass audits by protecting data with solutions that are just as stringent as backup and retention policies for data managed on premises.
Trusted cloud-to-cloud backup vendors adhere to strict security standards that you are unlikely to be able to recreate or easily maintain on your own. Implementing a third-party backup solution allows you to leverage credentials like:
- SSAE 16 Compliance
- Strong encryption cyphers
- Cloud Security Alliance Membership
- Privacy and Security Certifications, like TRUSTe
2. Educate and enable end users with user-friendly backup.
Data loss doesn’t have to be disastrous in order to interrupt business. In fact, everyday user error like accidental deletion accounts for about two-thirds of data loss, according to Aberdeen research. This can waste employee time and energy in two ways: the IT team must expend resources to help get data back, and the employee who made the mistake can’t get back to work without consulting IT for help. The best way to avoid wasted time and resources due to SaaS data loss is to properly train employees on the tools they use each day, like Google Apps, Office 365, and Salesforce and provide them with a backup and restore solution that includes end-user enabled restore.
When end-users are empowered to solve their own data loss issues, IT admins no longer have to do the recovery and restore work. This eliminates a flood support tickets and allows IT resources to be used more efficiently and strategically. It also allows non-IT personnel to stay productive; if mistakes can be corrected in a few clicks, they can get back to work without fuss.
Similarly, solutions that require you to wade through tons of data to find the one thing you’re looking for will put productivity on hold. Be sure to find a backup and recovery solution that’s intuitive and user-friendly. Below is a list of some features that will make backup and recovery for IT and non-IT employees as simple as possible:
- Daily, automated backup
- Granular, point-in-time restore
- In-app or on-page restore
3. Don’t just back up data — think metadata, too!
Metadata plays a vital role in enabling collaboration and control, containing information about sharing settings, labels, tags, and ownership. All of these are important for allowing the right people, internally or externally, to easily find and use SaaS data.
Unfortunately, not all backup solutions, including the limited options provided by cloud vendors (like the Salesforce manual, weekly export) include metadata. And this can leave users confused and frustrated when they find that they won’t be able to get data back into their cloud applications exactly as it was before, with settings, customizations, and associated data attached.
Without metadata, the data doesn’t have the context needed to provide useful information. You must find a solution that includes metadata and customizations in your backups if you want the recovery process to go as smoothly as you expect.
4. Monitor backups to check the health of your organization’s data
Imagine how it would feel to attempt to restore lost data only to realize it hadn’t been backed up properly in the first place due to an oversight, data corruption, or other error. All backups should be monitored by admins using status reporting, dashboards, and email notifications included with your cloud-to-cloud backup solution.
Often, when errors arise, they’re due to problems with your data, not the backup itself. Zero byte files and certain file formats may not be included in backups and can be an indication of data corruption. Paying attention to these error reports can help you get a picture of your organization’s data health and address a problem you wouldn’t otherwise have noticed.
Find a backup provider that helps you put best practices into action
Spanning Backup is a cloud-to-cloud backup and restore solution that will help you put the above recommendations into action. With daily, automated backup and simple, rapid restore that even end-users can navigate without assistance, you’ll no longer need to worry about SaaS data loss, business continuity, and compliance in the cloud.