Getting Google Drive Restore Right, Part 3 of 3

In Part 1 of this series, we talked about making sure your backup system restores your files organized just like they were when they were backed up. In Part 2 we looked at restoring multiple files and folders in a single operation. In third and final installment, we’ll examine the importance of a subtle but critically important restore function: point-in-time restores.

Point-in-Time Restores

Restoring from backup is all about getting back to a known-good state. If you’re restoring a single file, this is trivial: just restore one of the versions that’s been backed up. Both Spanning Backup and our main competitor Backupify do this just fine. But sometimes the problem isn’t just with one file, and that’s where things get more complicated.

Let’s say you hire a new accountant, and she decides to reorganize things in Google Drive. She moves files and folders around, creates new ones, deletes old ones, and renames others. She’s happy with the changes but isn’t aware that she’s just created an organizational nightmare for the people with whom those files and folders are shared. At this point, you just need to get everything back to the way it was before she started “cleaning up”. What you need is to restore to a point in time, specifically to the last backup that was made before her changes.

With Spanning Backup this is simple. Just click Restore, select Documents, and choose the date and time of the last backup before the accountant made her changes. At this point you can see your entire Google Drive with all of its files and folders organized exactly as they were at that point in time (click to enlarge):

Select the files and folders you need back, click “Restore”, and in a few minutes you’re back in business.

Backupify doesn’t do point-in-time restores of anything other than individual files. If your folder organization gets messed up, you’re simply out of luck. Likewise, if you need a folder—or your entire Drive—restored to how it was yesterday, or last Thursday, or March 31 of last year, they’re not going to be able to help you. And since Backupify doesn’t perform point-in-time backups, when you do a “restore all” or a full export of your backups, you’re going to get everything that’s ever been backed up, which is of questionable utility.

For the record, we asked Backupify founder and CEO Rob May to check our facts. He verified that this is in fact how his company’s product works.

Getting It Right

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: backup is easy but restore is hard. And if you don’t get it right, the whole thing is practically useless. The ability of your backup system to restore individual files is absolutely required, to be sure. But so are its abilities to restore your folder hierarchy, restore multiple files and folders in a single operation, and restore to a point in time. These things aren’t extras; they’re fundamental. And Spanning Backup is the only backup system for Google Workspace that provides them.