G Suite Backup Solutions: What’s Out There and What Works Best?

Call it G Suite or call it Google Workspace (as it was officially rebranded in October 2020), the fact of the matter is that whatever additional features and benefits came with the new name, backup was not one of them!

In fact, Workspace is simply the same core service as G Suite, but with tighter integration between the various applications, as explained neatly in this howtogeek.com blog.

Since the service remains fundamentally unchanged from its predecessor, you’re still not getting data backup as part of the package.

So, if your business runs on G Suite / Workspace, what are the options for connecting it to a separate service that will deliver true data backup? 

Backup: where G Suite (and others!) falls short

It’s probably helpful here to outline what constitutes true data backup, as opposed to storage.

Essentially, data backup has three core characteristics: long-term data retention, accessibility, and ease of search and insight. Here’s why they’re important.

Data retention – the hallmark of true backup

Retention is the big differentiator. Consider this: in G Suite / Workspace, deleted items are automatically purged from your trash after 30 days (this includes deleted contacts and folder structures) and you cannot restore them. A deleted user account is retained for only 20 days.

Clearly, this raises immense issues for any business that might need to urgently recover deleted data older than that, whether for operational reasons, to meet audit and compliance requirements (particularly in regulated industries such as finance, where data must often be backed up for many years), or in a dispute or litigation situation.

But it also heightens the risk associated with cyber- and insider attacks, since it may be many weeks before a business even realises that its data has been deleted – and by that time it is far too late to recover it.

(To be fair to Google, it’s not the only cloud storage and productivity tool provider to impose such short retention limits – Microsoft 365 / Office 365 has similar policies, as the striking graphic in our recent post shows.)

Accessibility and ease of search and insight

For their part, these backup characteristics are largely about being able to easily find and rapidly recover not only a batch of data, but a specific file, and even a specific version of that file.

Here, again, G Suite / Workspace is simply not set up to deliver this backup-standard functionality. There is no mechanism to recover large volumes of current or legacy data at speed, and the versioning capability is also very limited, as it applies only to native Google files – not Word, Excel or PowerPoint documents, for example.

It’s for these reasons that industry analysts Gartner, IDC, and Forrester all recommend using third-party G Suite / Workspace backup.

So, what does that kind of backup look like?

Cloud backup for a cloud service – find the best fit

Firstly, for a cloud service, cloud backup is clearly the thing.

There’s a helpful description of various cloud data backup vendors and what their solutions deliver in this list.

At the same time, no specific mention is made in the list of G Suite / Workspace backup, but you can find that here, and it’s worth exploring some of the points raised.

Firstly, cloud backup of this type for G Suite / Workspace is truly cloud-to-cloud, meaning no software needs to be installed. You simply login securely to the web console (wherever you are in the world) with your G Suite / Workspace credentials and you can set up or change the extent of the backup, and select specific files and versions of files, as well as emails, and larger data sets, to restore rapidly – in just a few clicks.

Secondly, this kind of backup is both automatic, bandwidth-efficient, and secure. Automated backups can be set up to run once or many times a day, and only the changes are backed up, reducing data traffic, making the most efficient possible use of IT resources, so that other business systems and processes are not slowed down or otherwise impacted.

The data itself is 256bit AES encrypted and securely transferred to ISO27001-certified, mirrored data centres – so even if one data centre suffers an outage, data is still accessible and restorable from the mirrored site.

In short, it’s a low-hassle, low-maintenance, cost-effective approach to backing up any business’s critical G Suite / Workspace data, should the need arise.

And that need will arise. UK magazine Business Matters reports that around 80% of companies lost cloud platform data in 2020, with 47% of businesses attributing it to users accidentally deleting data.

As the article goes on to say, “Your files, contacts, emails, data within spreadsheets, and other documents are all at risk of being deleted, and once it’s deleted, it’s usually gone for good.”

Shall we talk cloud backup for your G Suite / Workspace sometime soon?