How Does Google Back Up Your Data?

The Google Workspace for Business website is a great resource for subscribers and potential users to learn about features and benefits of the software.  Among the benefits Google guarantees is data security, including encryption, authentication, reliable access, a high level of user control, and backup of data.  But users should be aware that when Google uses the term “backed up,” it may not mean exactly what they think.

The site explains how Google saves your work on their servers in real time so that you are always able to access your data, even if your personal computer is stolen or crashes.  This is what Google means by “always backed up.”  Yet what Google is truly describing on this page is syncing your data with their servers.  This does indeed allow you to access your Google Workspace information should anything unfavorable happen to your hardware, but it does not give end users direct control over their own backups- nor does it offer users a direct recovery mechanism to restore their own lost data like a full backup and recovery solution would.  Many users assume full backup and recovery features come standard with Google Workspace software and are surprised when they encounter an issue that Google simply can’t help them solve.

To be clear, Google does back up your data, but this is a different mechanism than the sync process.  A data sync provides you and your collaborators with constant access, even as you are editing information, on any machine, because your data resides in the Google cloud.  This is what is being described in the screenshot above.  A backup, in contrast, provides a means to recover data should anything happen to it (a server malfunction or natural disaster, for instance).  Of course, Google has disaster recovery systems in place, so if there is a problem with one of their servers that could affect your information, they are able to recover any lost data through their own internal backups.  However, these backups are not accessible by end-customers, and they don’t cover several common ways of losing data in the Google Workspace environment.  Essentially, Google can protect you from their own mishaps, but not your non-hardware related issues.  And this leaves a few notable gaps in your data protection.

Without a true backup and recovery for Google Workspace, threats like accidental deletion, sync malfunctions, mistakes in collaboration, and hacking can result in permanent data loss.  Take a look at what Google has to say about recovering your information.

One Spanning Backup customer, Adam Barciszewski, the Tech Ops Lead at Answers.com, describes his experience with this topic:

“Last Friday, through a series of unfortunate events, including a Google Doc ownership transfer glitch, [Answers.com was] facing a high probability that we lost around 4000 very important documents. Spanning allowed me to recover those Google docs easily and in only a few short steps. The alternative would have been sitting there in disbelief as the sucking-vacuum sound of around 4000 documents vanishing filled my ears.”

The only way to avoid potential data disasters like this is to call in a true backup and recovery service like Spanning Backup.  Doing so ensures that a copy of every version of your information is stored safely in a separate cloud infrastructure where it can quickly be recovered to your Google Workspace.  In this way, partnering with Spanning allows customers to observe the industry best practice of storing data with more than one cloud vendor in order to bolster data protection.

Together, Google and Spanning offer a perfect balance of accessibility and data protection.  Should anything outside of Google’s control happen to your Google Calendar, Gmail, Sites, Contacts, or Drive data, we can help you restore your information in just a few clicks.


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