Cloud Data Restore: Five Essential Restore Capabilities

As more organizations realize the importance of protecting their critical data in SaaS applications like G Suite, Office 365 and Salesforce, they’re focusing first and foremost on finding effective solutions for data backup. That’s an important step, but as we like to say at Spanning: Backup is one thing. Restore is everything. It won’t do you much good to have your SaaS data backed up unless you can get it back quickly and easily – and exactly like it was before.

Restore: Refining and Redefining Recovery

Recovery simply means you get your data back – not that you get it back exactly the way it was. In the event of a data loss, you may be dismayed to find that your backup and recovery solution defines recovery as recovering and exporting all versions of your backed-up cloud application data. That means you and your IT team will probably have to expend a lot of time and effort zeroing in on a specific previous version of exactly the data you lost, rebuilding your file structure the way you had it before, and manually importing or restoring the data back into the application so everyone can get back to work.

re·cov·er /riˈkəvər/ verb

to find or regain possession of (something stolen or lost).

Restore, on the other hand, means accurately and automatically returning the data directly back into your SaaS application, exactly the way it was before you lost it. You need a solution that restores data from any point-in-time with file structure, metadata and labels intact, provides the flexibility to restore exactly what was lost – whether a single file from yesterday or an entire account from last year – and makes it easy enough that any user can do it.

re·store /riˈstôr/ verb

return (someone or something) to a former condition, place or position.


5 Essential Restore Requirements

To be sure that’s what you’re getting from your backup solution, look for one that includes the following five essential restore capabilities.

1) Simple, straightforward restore process

Data loss can happen in an instant, for any number of reasons: A user accidentally hits “delete,” a data synchronization process goes awry, a hacker destroys a set of records. Whatever the cause, when it happens, the most important thing is to be able to immediately get the data back and get back to work.

Look for a solution that’s specifically designed to simplify the process, starting with an interface that works the way the SaaS application interface works – so there’s no time and effort wasted learning how to navigate through a new and unfamiliar landscape. Look, too, for a simple process that requires just a few steps to click through, and that doesn’t require additional assistance from the helpdesk or an admin.

2) Accurate restore of point-in-time data directly back into the application

Backup solutions that “recover” data by merely retrieving all versions of all your backed-up data for you to sort through are of little value when the priority is to have everything back the way it was before as soon as possible. The true value is in a solution that retrieves data from any specific point in time and then automatically restores it directly back into the application with no manual effort required. It should have the flexibility and granularity to restore the most recent version or any previous point-in-time version of a document, field or other item, such as a Google Apps file or folder or a Salesforce record, with 100% accuracy. It should also be able to restore metadata – such as labels, file structures, and sharing settings – to ensure complete accuracy.

3) Rapid restore times to meet the fastest RTOs

To avoid downtime after a data loss, organizations need to achieve the fastest recovery time objectives (RTOs) possible. This requires a backup solution with restore processes that are both simple, because they involve a minimal number of steps, and easy, because anyone can perform those steps with no special training. This way, the same person who experienced or first identified the data loss can immediately restore the data and keep working without having to take time to call the helpdesk or wait for assistance from an admin.

4) Extensive security technologies and best practices

In addition to being fast and accurate, an effective data restore solution must also be secure, with measures in place to ensure that users only see and restore the data they are authorized to edit. Look for a solution that:

  • Encrypts data – both in transit and at rest – using SSL and 256-bit AES object-level encryption technology;
  • Has a widely recognized security certification (such as the TRUSTe Certified Privacy Seal or Skyhigh CloudTrust) to indicate it meets stringent, externally established data security requirements;
  • Provides detailed audit logs of changes in security settings, as well as complete logs of user and admin activities; and,
  • Comes from an application provider that has completed an SSAE 16 Type II security audit, which attests to meeting security standards in a variety of areas.

5) Alignment with compliance requirements

The number of regulatory and compliance mandates governing data availability is growing all the time, and having the right restore solution in place can be critical to meeting their requirements. These regulations don’t necessarily mandate backup and restore capabilities, but they do require organizations to keep information available – and that makes the ability to restore data critical to complying with them. To that end, the widely used COBIT framework of standards for compliance includes testing of restoration capabilities as measured by the percentage of successful restorations. A solution that operates within this framework will help ensure compliance.


Backup with the Right Restore Brings Measurable Value

Solutions that make it quick and simple to restore lost data to SaaS applications offer broad business benefits including:

  • Business continuity – Being able to restore data rapidly and accurately means being able to resume work quickly in the event of a data loss, and thus avoid disruption to business operations.
  • Cost savings – An easy, automated process to accurately restore data back into an application reduces IT costs by eliminating the need to call the helpdesk, open trouble tickets, or spend admin time retrieving data.
  • Improved user experience – Users who can do their own restore operations without waiting for help work more confidently, knowing that they can quickly restore lost data caused by mistaken deletions, incorrect imports, or sync errors.


Don’t Just Recover Data – Restore It

It’s time for organizations concerned about protecting their data in the cloud to focus not just on backing up data but, more importantly, on restoring it. Backup solutions that do little more after a loss event than retrieve all the data that’s been backed up can waste time, cost money, and create nightmares for IT teams and business users alike.

Look instead for a solution designed to quickly, accurately, and automatically restore data to the application, with the flexibility to focus on specific pieces of data, restore them to any previous point-in-time version, and restore them completely, including labels, file structures, and other metadata.

Go beyond recovery to restore data – and restore productivity and continuity for your organization.

Originally published June 2014

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