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How important are backups for Google Workspace?

Many people believe that moving to Google Workspace means that they no longer need to be concerned with backing up. While moving your files to a service such as Google Drive means you’re safe from server failure taking down your business, there are still plenty of reasons why you should consider backing up your files. Take the interior design tools startup Mosss who accidentally deleted their entire Google Workspace account.
Or consider how you would cope from a malicious employee actively deleting important documents, or maybe they deleted files by accident. Worst still is the threat of hackers, malware and ransomware targetting your Google Drive with encryption or deletion. In these cases, the only way you will be able to recover is via an effective backup strategy.

But wait, isn’t Google Vault a backup solution? Well, actually no. Google Vault is an archiving and eDiscovery solution designed specifically for litigation purposes. Importantly unlike a backup, Google Vault does not hold historical versions of files. This means that if a file is deleted or corrupted, via malware, for example, it is also deleted or corrupted within the Google Vault.

Why Backup your Google Workspace environment?

According to Gartner more than 40% of organisations using Google Workspace have installed and use a 3rd party backup solution in order to protect their data. This percentage increases when we look at organisations with more than 50+ users. Those who don’t have a back up often believe that their data is already safe and backed up by “the cloud” however this is not the case. Now Google does offer some basic backup and recovery options within Google Workspace, but these are more often than not aimed at end-users. (such as Google Takeout). Others believe that Google Vault is a backup solution, and as we’re already mentioned it isn’t. The primary focus of Google Vault is e-discovery, some of the key features you would want from a backup solution such as point in time restore, continuous backup and metadata support just aren’t included within Google Vault. Therefore it makes sense  for organisations to choose a 3rd party to back up their data.

Google Workspace Backup Landscape

There are dozens of Google Workspace options available, including many Google Workspace Marketplace cloud-based solutions, but which is right for you and which would we recommend?

g suite backup solutions
Image Source: afi.ai – https://afi.ai/blog/best-g-suite-backup-solution
1. Cloud-based backup services

Cloud-based backup solutions provide a fully managed backup service of your Google Workspace including vendor-hosted backup management and cloud storage. As these offerings are hosted in the cloud, backup operations have no impact on the local network and have no requirements for local storage capacity/network bandwidth.

2. Google recovery tools

Google provides tools that can help retain Google Workspace user data using Google Vault (an archiving & e-discovery add-on) and Google Takeout (a free offering that if enabled allows users to manual extract data offline, including scheduled downloads). Both tools help retain Google Workspace data and export it offline, however, they do not have any recovery capabilities in order to restore data back to Google Workspace.

3. Traditional backup software

There is a broad spectrum of traditional backup solutions that support Google Workspace. However these solutions typically only provide partial support of Google Workspace (e.g. no OU structure, sharing permissions or Google Workspace calendar, Gmail labels etc.).

4. Hardware Appliances

NAS/SAN storage devices that can take regular backups of Google Workspace and store them locally. Similarly to traditional backup software vendors these are focused on server backup and provide limited support for Google Workspace.

5. Local backups for Google Workspace

These tools are focused on Google Workspace and other SaaS apps protection and don’t provide a fully managed cloud service. Customers need to install, maintain, host and manage the backup software and storage. Although the price of the software is lower than the price of the cloud-based backup solutions, the total cost of ownership for such solutions will typically exceed that of fully managed cloud services.  

Recommendations

  • We recommend Afi to all our Google Workspace customers.
  • Afi, Spanning & Backupify show the best performance vs other solutions, but Spanning and Backupify have important limitations when compared to Afi.
  • Gartner, IDC and Forrester recommend using 3rd party G Suite backup to protect data from ransomware & deletions, as the built-in Google recovery options are insufficient in most cases.

The following chart shows 7 of the most popular Google Workspace (G Suite) backup solutions and how they compared when backing up and restoring from a test domain containing 80 users and 20 Shared (Team) Drives and 2TB of total storage.

google workspace backup comparison
Image Source – Afi.ai – https://afi.ai/blog/best-g-suite-backup-solution#TestResults

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