SaaS Backup: What It Is and Why It’s Important for SaaS Data Protection

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) adoption rate continues to trend upward. The SaaS market’s valuation is projected to reach $197 billion in 2023 and $232 billion by 2024. According to Gartner, worldwide public cloud end-user spending is expected to reach nearly $600 billion in 2023. This sharp increase in demand for SaaS solutions is due to accelerated digital transformation initiatives and the shift toward hybrid work.

SaaS applications offer multiple benefits, from ease of use to flexibility, scalability and everything in between. Today, businesses use, on average, 130 SaaS apps to execute mission-critical tasks, making SaaS products a critical component that drives modern businesses.

In this article, we discuss the ins and outs of SaaS and why backing up SaaS data is crucial for the survival of your business.

What is SaaS (Software-as-a-Service)?

Software-as-a-Service, popularly known as SaaS, is a cloud-based software delivery model where organizations offer their software solutions to customers or end users through the internet. In this model, software vendors develop the products, host them in their private cloud or a third-party cloud, and distribute them via the internet. SaaS, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) are the three main categories of cloud computing.

Businesses and individuals subscribe to software services rather than purchasing a perpetual license. Once subscribed, users can use the apps on any device and access them from anywhere with an internet connection. Unlike traditional on-premises solutions that require you to install software on your computer to be able to use them, SaaS apps only require you to subscribe and log in to your SaaS account to access them.

What are examples of SaaS?

SaaS solutions have transformed the way we work, collaborate and communicate. They are easy to set up, use and can be accessed anytime, anywhere via a web browser — great productivity tools for on-the-go professionals. When it comes to SaaS, chances are you are using it already but aren’t aware.

Here’s a list of some of the most popular SaaS solutions:

Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) is a subscription-based suite of productivity and security applications and services, including Office 365. Microsoft 365 includes business-class email, cloud storage, Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS), word processor, spreadsheet, presentation program and more.

Google Workspace

Google Workspace — previously titled Google Apps for Work and G Suite — is Google’s SaaS offering for business. Google Workspace provides custom email addresses and access to collaboration tools like Gmail, Calendar, Meet, Chat, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms and Sites.


Salesforce is the world’s leading cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) platform that focuses on sales, marketing automation, customer service and analytics, to name a few. It allows businesses of all sizes to connect with their partners, existing customers and potential clients.


Slack is a messaging and productivity app designed for business. It allows you to seamlessly communicate, share files and collaborate with your team. You can also integrate Slack with other tools and services to improve efficiency.

Box is a cloud-based content management and file-sharing platform. Its built-in workflows, natively integrated signatures and seamless integration with over 1,500 software applications make Box a handy business tool.

Who is responsible for data in SaaS?

The demand for SaaS solutions continues to rise as more businesses look to integrate them into their workflows to enhance productivity and collaboration. As a result, the volume of mission-critical data stored in them is growing by the second. However, many organizations that use SaaS apps like Google Workspace, Microsoft 365 and Salesforce still do not back up their SaaS data. As per the Spanning Tech Trends & Insights Report, about 32% of the organizations surveyed said they do not back up their SaaS data. This is because many falsely believe SaaS vendors back up and protect their data.

If your business uses SaaS apps, it’s important to note that data protection in SaaS solutions is a shared responsibility between you and your service provider. Although SaaS vendors like Google, Microsoft and Salesforce provide a 99.9% application uptime and availability guarantee, customers are operationally and contractually liable for data protection.

SaaS Backup icon

What is SaaS backup?

SaaS backup involves creating and storing a separate (or asynchronous) copy of data generated from SaaS apps, such as Microsoft 365, using a backup solution. The copies are typically stored in an alternate location, like another cloud service. This minimizes data loss and enables quick recovery in the event of a disaster or the SaaS solution your company uses fails. A SaaS backup process involves using several technologies and processes to preserve the data you deem important, such as customer information, financial records, email accounts and project management files. This allows your business to recover SaaS data during a data loss event quickly and easily. SaaS backup is critical to the success of your disaster recovery plan.

Why is SaaS backup important?

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, the total amount of data stored in the cloud is expected to reach 100 zettabytes by 2025, or 50% of the world’s data, during the forecasted period. Massive adoption of SaaS solutions also introduced new workloads. Unfortunately, the cloud-based technologies also opened the doors to new threat vectors that could result in data loss and lost productivity, and in extreme cases, total business shutdown.

As per the 2022 Thales Data Threat Report, over 60% of corporate data was stored in the cloud in 2022. IBM’s 2022 Cost of a Data Breach report found that nearly half of all data breaches occurred in the cloud.

Given the increasing amount of mission-critical data in the cloud and the barrage of attacks on SaaS data, having a copy of your valuable assets is vital to ensuring business continuity and protecting your business against data disasters and breaches.

How is SaaS data lost or compromised?

Data loss in SaaS solutions occurs when information is either destroyed, corrupted, deleted, stolen, unreadable or inaccessible. Several factors could lead to data loss in cloud-based apps, such as:

Human error

It goes without saying that humans make mistakes. Accidental deletion of files, mistakenly downloading a malicious attachment and configuration errors due to inexperience are common mistakes users make. According to Verizon’s 2022 Data Breach Investigations Report, over 80% of data breaches involved a human element.

Programmatic errors

These types of errors are also known as sync errors and are common scenarios when integrating multiple SaaS applications. Such errors can corrupt your critical data and can lead to permanent data loss.


Cybercriminals are never idle. They are constantly inventing new strategies to steal your data. The 2022 State of Cloud Security Report by Snyk found that 80% of organizations have experienced at least one severe cloud security incident in the past year.

Malicious insiders

Of all the threats your organization faces, malicious insiders are by far the greatest. Because they originate from within your organization, they are much harder to detect and prevent. As per the 2023 Insider Threat Report by Cybersecurity Insiders, over 70% of cybersecurity professionals surveyed revealed that their organization was “moderately to extremely vulnerable” to an insider attack.

Viruses, malware and ransomware

Viruses and malware can cause irreparable damage to your business and data since an infection on a single machine can quickly spread to other systems, ultimately taking down the entire IT system. Around 300,000 new malware pieces are created daily to steal critical data to impact organizational operations and yield the greatest return. It is estimated that ransomware attacks will strike businesses every two seconds by 2031.

How does SaaS backup work?

A wide range of SaaS backup technologies are available today — both free and paid options. SaaS backup and recovery solutions make a copy or copies of your SaaS data and store it securely in a secondary location like a public cloud. This is accomplished by first installing cloud backup software into an IT environment and then establishing a cadence whereby an updated copy of your data is created and stored on behalf of the cloud backup provider. This protects your data from disasters, cybersecurity incidents or SaaS platform failures. In the event your SaaS data is deleted, lost or corrupted, you can use the backed-up data to recover lost files quickly.

While large enterprises have the manpower and IT resources to manage backups in-house, many organizations rely on third-party SaaS backup solution providers to back up their data. When you use a third-party backup solution, your vendor must integrate their backup software into the SaaS product(s) your company uses to copy and store data created in those apps.

The process of backing up SaaS data may vary from vendor to vendor depending on the backup technologies and tools used, your organizational requirements, and recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO) goals. Today’s industry-leading SaaS backup solutions come with a host of innovative features for complex data backup requirements, including automated or scheduled backups, advanced restore capabilities, encryption, security and access controls, and simplified management.

What are the benefits of SaaS backup?

From preventing data loss to combating cybercrime and meeting industry regulations, SaaS backup offers multiple benefits to organizations, large and small. Listed below are some organizational benefits of having a SaaS backup solution:

Safeguard business-critical data

Data loss in the cloud is not uncommon. Your organization holds large volumes of sensitive data like personal records, client information and financial information that must always be protected. Having multiple copies of your data stored in a secondary location protects your data against accidental deletion, cyberattacks and disasters.

Ensure business continuity

Cloud-to-cloud SaaS backup vendors like Spanning back up your data regularly and consistently, which means your data is readily available and retrievable when disasters strike. SaaS backup minimizes data loss and downtime, enabling your organization to quickly recover and resume business operations after a data loss incident. 

Comply with data regulations

Industry regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are getting tighter and more complex. Failure to meet regulatory requirements can be detrimental to your business. SaaS backup plays a critical role in achieving compliance with many of these laws. Your SaaS backup policy can provide evidence that your organization complies with industry standards.

Avoid unwanted costs

SaaS data loss and prolonged downtime due to accidental deletion, sync error or a cyberattack could be detrimental to your company. Such events could lead to financial losses and lawsuits, impact productivity and stall projects. As per IBM’s 2022 Cost of a Data Breach report, the average cost of a data breach in organizations with public clouds was $5.02 million. Recovering large volumes of lost files manually could take days, weeks or even months. A reliable SaaS backup solution saves you the unwanted costs associated with data loss, cybercrime and non-compliance, along with your reputation. 

What should be considered when choosing a SaaS backup solution?

Your SaaS data is the lifeblood of your organization, and its protection is paramount. That’s why choosing the right backup solution is critical. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a SaaS backup solution:

Shared responsibility model

Just because your organization uses cloud-based SaaS solutions doesn’t mean your data is automatically backed up and protected. SaaS solutions and service providers follow the shared responsibility model, wherein they are responsible for the integrity of the data center — security, infrastructure and operations — to ensure the availability and performance of their services. On the other hand, the customers are operationally and contractually responsible for the security of their accounts and user credentials and data protection. Select a backup solution that provides end-to-end data protection.

Recovery objectives: RTO and RPO

Before deciding on a backup solution, you must evaluate the data loss risks and your recovery objectives. RTO determines the maximum time your business can remain non-operational without disrupting normal business functions. RPO determines how much data your business can lose and continue functioning without impacting business operations. The backup solution you implement must meet your RTO and RPO goals. 

Service level agreement (SLA)

You must take into consideration multiple things before entering a relationship with your backup vendor. A service level agreement outlines the expectations and responsibilities between you and your service provider. It defines your backup and recovery goals like the frequency, scope, timeline, level of service you expect, and roles and responsibilities of both parties. Your SLA should include a nonperformance clause and policies detailing how data is backed up, how it is protected, where it is stored, who can access it and how it is managed and monitored. A clearly defined SLA avoids conflicts and sets realistic goals. 

Backup and restore features

One of the most important evaluation criteria of a SaaS backup solution is its ability to restore data. Look for a solution that offers granular, point-in-time restore capabilities with end-user restore capabilities. When a data loss incident occurs, you must be able to quickly find and restore data from any point in time to reduce the risk to business continuity.

Total cost of ownership (TCO)

The total cost of ownership is the total amount of a product or solution. TCO estimates direct and indirect expenses, including short- and long-term costs, such as acquisition costs, operating costs and resource costs. Knowing the TCO is critical when implementing a new IT solution in your organization. This will help to get an insight into your investment, the return on investment (ROI) and the product’s value over its lifespan. A good rule of thumb regarding the TCO of backup solutions is that the lower the TCO, the better the value in the long run. 

Protect your SaaS data with Spanning Backup

Spanning Backup for Google Workspace, Microsoft 365 and Salesforce provides fast, affordable, reliable and end-to-end SaaS data protection. Our solutions are powerful yet easy to set up, manage and use. Spanning allows you to tailor backup frequencies to suit your business needs. It empowers end users to recover lost data in just a few clicks, which reduces pressure and dependency on the IT team.

Spanning Backup is a plug-and-play solution that saves your business countless hours of manual work and money. With data centers located in North America, the EU and Australia, Spanning Backup is the most trusted cloud-to-cloud backup solution for thousands of companies around the world.

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