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Beyond Restore: Use Cases for Google Apps Backup

Backup Man

As we have noted several times in prior posts and webcasts, Google’s internal backup systems are designed to protect you should Google have hardware or software issues. You, however, are responsible for protecting your data in Google Apps from user deletions, user overwrites, malware, hackers, and other risks.

We have identified several use cases for backup/recovery in Google Apps that you cannot do from the Admin console.

A good Google Apps backup solution does more than restore

Preserve Data From Past Employees

  • If you want to preserve data from past employees, and need more than emails, your only option is to continue paying for the suspended Google Apps accounts.
  • With the ability to restore data to others, you can keep the backup as an archive and delete the Google Apps accounts.
  • An added benefit: the cost is less than 1/2 of a Google Apps for Work license and less than 1/4 of a Google Apps Unlimited license.

Transfer Data to New Owners

  • While you can transfer document ownership though the Admin Console and ownership of Sites data through APIs, these transfers are “all or nothing” and are destructive (they remove the data from the original account).
  • With the ability to restore data selectively and to others, you can transfer specific files, folders, sites data, emails, etc. to different people as needed.
  • An added benefit: You can transfer data between employees as they change positions and responsibilities.

Archive Documents (and other data)

  • While Google Apps Vault has eDiscovery searches for Gmail and Drive, Vault only archives Gmail.
  • A third party backup solution can preserve and archive documents, as well as email, calendars, contacts, and sites data in support of your document retention policies or regulations.
  • While a user can still delete a document and empty it from Trash before the backup, most users are unaware of the steps to take. With multiple backups per day, you are protected from losses other than those of a determined malicious actor.

Escape Hatch

  • As a “best-practice”, backups should not be stored in the systems being backed up without altering the format or content.
  • The right backup solution keeps your data in a separate location/service and restores data in its original format.
  • An added benefit: With an export feature, your backups become an easier way to extract data from Google Apps.

 

We offer multiple backup solutions for Google Apps, click here to learn more about our preferred solution.


 

Be Able to Recover

Backup Man
Accidents will happen. And while accidents that damage or destroy data are more common, malicious attacks will happen as well.  The rate of ransomware is on the rise and large companies are not the only targets. Whether by phishing attack, advanced persistent threat, or other means your company is seen as having data valuable enough to extort a ransom, you are a target.

In short, if you are reading this, you are a potential target.

While improving your endpoint protection and educating users can greatly minimize your risk, no malware solution can provide you with a guarantee against ransomware. So, if you are hit, you need to be able to recover.

For your on-premise systems, you most likely have a backup/recovery solution. In the event of ransomware, you can delete the encrypted files and restore from a point in time prior to the attack. Yes, you lose data, but a solid backup plan can minimize the loss and the impact.

Your cloud data needs the same protection. You want the same recovery process.  

Traditional and cloud backup services can be installed and connected to cloud servers in much the same way as they work for on-premise servers. For cloud file services, like Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive, traditional backup solutions will not work as they cannot connect to the service. The same holds true for data in SaaS applications like Salesforce.com.  You need a specialized solution.

Our Recommendation

For most of our Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 clients, we recommend Backupify as our preferred solution for several reasons:

  • Multiple backups per day for some or all users
  • Unlimited backup space
  • Unlimited backup retention
  • Multiple admin accounts with delegation
  • Powerful search
  • Fast restores
  • The ability to archive data for past users (Google Apps)

Our Offer

Try Backupify for free for 21 days. If you like what you see, we can save you money on license and support.  If not, we discontinue the service.

Interested? Let us know.

Spring Cleaning Past Employee Accounts

Cover.eBook.Guide to Google Apps License Management
It may be the second day of Spring here in New England, but the kids are home from school and the plows were out early. Nothing like a post-winter snow to trigger the spring cleaning bug in us all. For those that work in the cloud, the start of Spring is a great time to review our licenses and our needs and to make sure we are cleaned up and ready for new growth. If you are using Google Apps For Work (GAFW) or Google Apps Unlimited (GAU), now is a great time to clean out accounts for past employees.

Easier Said Than Done

Google Apps has a simple licensing model.  Pay $50 or $120 per user per year, respectively, and users have access to everything Google Apps has to offer.  The challenge comes in when employees leave. If you want to preserve their data, your options within Google Apps are limited, and can become costly. Specifically, you can expect to pay:

  • $50 per user per year to keep a past employee’s GAFW account
  • $100 per user per year if you also have Vault
  • $120 per user per year to keep a suspended GAU account

You Do Have Options

As noted in our recent eBook, A Guide to Google Apps License Management, we discuss several strategies, including: using an “archive” account, sync & store, and cloud backup.  Both the “archive” and “sync & store” approaches are inexpensive, they are not very cost effective. If you are keeping past employees’ data, you want the information to be easy to find an usable.  These solutions can make finding and retrieving information difficult and can alter the format and formatting of documents.

Our recommended solution uses cloud backup. Backup past users to a 3rd party service that lets you restore the data to any active user if and when you need it.  It is easy to keep calendar entries, contacts, files, and emails. File formats and formatting are preserved. Finding information is easy with robust search tools.

And, the cost is affordable. Backupify for Google Apps lets your create and keep an employee archive for $24 (or less!) per account per year. This is half the cost of protecting active users, and 50% to 80% less than keeping the Google Apps accounts active.  And, you avoid the risk of damaging or losing data while shuffling information to other users or into “archive” accounts.

Contact Us

To learn more about our proven solution, along with current special offers, please contact us.

Restore Google Drive Files Offers Some (but not enough?) Protection

google drive
Among the myriad of new features and upgrades announced at Google I/O this week, Google added the ability to restore users’ Drive files that have been deleted from the Trash folder.

While offering some protection, the feature is limited in its scope.

  • You cannot restore individual files; you can only restore all files deleted within a date range you provide.  The minimum date range is 1 day (24 hours).
  • You can only restore files for individual users, one at a time.
  • You can only restore files that were deleted from Trash within 25 days.
  • When restoring files, the permissions are not restored.  Only the user will have access to the files.

With these limitations, we do not expect the ability to restore a user’s Google Drive files will be of great use to most organizations.  With a limited retention period and lack of granularity, the tool provides a big shovel when most users need a spoon.

The solution also depends on users’ ability to recover information from the Trash folder, a process we find difficult at times due to the limited ability to search Trash in Drive.

True backup/recovery solutions give users and administrators that critical features that deliver more usability and effectiveness:

  • Flexible retention:  Allow organizations to implement policies related document and records management, including extended retention and removal of data past retention windows.
  • File-Level / Item-Level Restore: Most data loss and restore needs result from human error or action and impact fewer than 5 files.  Acceptable restore capabilities include the ability to restore individual files (or entire accounts) and should include the ability to select file by version or point in time.
  • Protect Meta Data:  Protect the meta data as well as the files themselves.  File ownership, permissions, etc. should be preserved and recoverable with the file.
  • Data Export:  Provide the ability to export data so that it may be migrated to other accounts and/or other systems.
  • Administrative Control:  Identify and allow backup/restore administrators that are not full domain administrators.

Absent many of these features, the ability within Google Apps to restore a user’s Drive files is a limited feature that will not meet most organizations’ needs for data protection.

Third party backup/restore solutions are still a necessary and appropriate component of a robust Google Apps environment.

Feel free to contact us if you would like to explore backup/recovery options and solutions.

Surprising Stats on Cloud Data Loss

10 stats on data loss
Yes, you can lose data in the cloud!

Our friends at Backupify recently conducted a study, Protecting Data in the Cloud: The Truth About SaaS Backup, which revealed some very interesting results based on how IT perceives the safety and security of their cloud-resident data.

54% of IT professionals have implemented some form of SaaS applications

81% of IT pros that use or plan to use SaaS apps categorize the data stored in their SaaS apps as “very to extremely important”

52% of IT pros don’t currently back up their SaaS data (or even plan to)

79% of IT pros believe their SaaS application is being backed up by their solution provider

1 out of 3 companies using SaaS lose data

47% of SaaS data loss occurs from end-user deletion

17% of SaaS data loss occurs when an employee overwrites data

13% of SaaS data loss occurs when a hacker deletes data

47% of IT pros back up SaaS data with a manual export

15% of IT pros back up SaaS data with cloud-to-cloud backup

If you want to learn more about protecting your SaaS and cloud data, please send us a note.

Note: This post is based on a Backupify Blog Post, which you can see here.

 

Cumulus Global Offers Solutions and Seminars at FETC 2014

FETC-2014Visitors to FETC 2014 in Orlando later this month have a unique opportunity to learn how Google Apps for Education can serve as platform for robust administrative and classroom computing.

Cumulus Global (Booth #256) is hosting a series of in-booth seminars covering a range of topics from system administration, data protection, and security, to 1:1 program design and professional development for faculty.  Cumulus Global is webcasting the sessions as well, for those unable to attend FETC in person.

With more than a dozen sessions, Cumulus Global intends to offer attendees new perspectives on how schools can effectively Deploy solutions, Gear Up with the best devices and infrastructure, and Transform the learning process.

Session presenters include experts from Backupify, Bettercloud, CloudLock, Edsby, and Eduscape Learning.

Click Here for more information, or to register for one or more of the webcasts. Feel free to Contact Us with any questions.

As a featured exhibitor, Cumulus Global is able to offer the following discount codes for FETC 2014 attendees:

Should You Backup Data in Google Apps?

Hurricane Sandy
When running systems in-house, the need for backup/recovery and backup/restore services is clear.  Organizations must protect themselves from system failures and other events that can corrupt or destroy important information.  With Google Apps, however, the highly redundant infrastructure offers great protection from data loss due to system failures.

Why should you backup your data in Google Apps?

  • User Error: The most common form of data loss (~30% of all data loss)
  • Security Breach: A hacker gains access to your SaaS data
  • Third Party App Error: Any app downloaded in a Marketplace can have bugs – an opportunity for hackers to enter
  • Rogue Employee: User error that’s not accidental. Could happen with any disgruntled or former employee of your company
  • Software Error: Service outages and account suspension can happen

What can you do?

Deploying a cloud-to-cloud backup solution will protect your data.  Solutions  designed to backup specific solutions, like Backupify for Google Apps, provide enterprise grade features and services without breaking a budget.

Click here to learn more.

3rd Tues @ 3 Webcast: Protecting Data in Google Apps

 

For those running or considering Google Apps, Google’s highly redundant, multi-tenant infrastructure protects data from nearly all risk of loss or corruption due to hardware or system failure.  Understanding the other risks to our data lets us decide when and how to better protect ourselves.

In this live web event, Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global, will discuss the business risks and use cases that drive the need for data protection and data loss prevention and will look at practical, affordable solutions.

Joined by experts from Backupify and Cloudlock, Falcon will overview and demonstrate affordable solutions for creating a secure and protected data ecosystem using Google Apps and Google Drive.

And, as always, there will be plenty of time for your questions.

Click Here to Register or for More Information.

 

Cloud Backup/Recovery: The Same, Only Different


This blog post is the second in a series on Data Protection issues and practical solutions.

Data Protection Series

Backup and Restore, the most basic form of data protection, has been a standard IT practice since teams or Operators managed racks and rows of tape drives and tapes for early mainframe computers.  Borrowing from proven audio technologies, tape backups protected programs and data from the fickle failings of early disk drives.

As computers became more interactive, and more personal, the need for backup and restores services expanded.  Yes, your hardware might fail.  More likely, however, an assistant would “save as” over the boss’ most recent masterpiece.  Computers were new, and human error was inevitable.  Then came viruses, poorly written applications, spyware, bots, and the Internet (the ying and yang of all things good and evil).

As we move into the cloud, some of the reasons for backup/restore remain, and some new ones emerge.  

For those of us running Google Apps for Business, Education, and Government, Google’s highly redundant, multi-tenant infrastructure protects us from nearly all risk of data loss or corruption due to hardware or system failure.  Understanding the other risks to our data lets us decide when and how to better protect ourselves.

Third Party Applications

While domain-level access for applications is usually restricted to administrators, users often have the ability to run and connect third party applications to accounts.  Whether global or individual, poorly written third party applications can wreak havoc with your data.  Applications that need write access to docs, email, calendars, or contacts, can overwrite or delete content.  Determining the scope of a problem, and recovery, can be nearly impossible without reviewing all of your data.

User Error

Recent research shows that data loss within Google Apps is due to user error 63% of the time (0% is caused by Google).  As with any new system, unfamiliarity can bring unintended harm.  Ill-placed pastes, mistaken deletions, and save instead of “save as” are some of the ways data may be lost.   Even more complex, mistakes using Manage Revision settings, and permanently deleting items, can make recovery impossible.

Willful Misconduct

Protecting your data from the employee (or soon to be ex-employee) intent on doing harm is nothing new.  In Google Apps, as well as any other system, employees with access to sensitive information often have the ability to damage or destroy that information in ways intended to harm your business.

Security Breach

Google Apps is one of the most secure public cloud services in the world.  Even so, no system is ever completely safe from user identity theft or corrupt systems with access. A mal-ware infected computer running Google Drive can allow damage to data in Google Apps as easily as with a computer connected to a Windows server down the hall.  If a user — knowingly or as a result of social engineering — shares his or her identity, hackers and others can damage your data.

Google Error

While Google has never had errors resulting in permanent data loss, and Google’s systems are designed to withstand multiple points of failure, a very, very small chance still exists that a software or hardware error could corrupt data.

All of these cases are, and have been, reasons to run a backup/recovery service.  But at what point do you add backup/recovery to your?  For most, the answer is as simple as the answer to the following question:

If you had this data on a server in your computer room, would you back it up?

If the answer is “Yes”, than you should protect the data where it lives — even in Google Apps.

For others, it is one of critical mass.  When the cloud is considered a secondary data store, some wait for usage to reach a level “significant” enough to warrant the additional cost of backup/recovery services.  Unfortunately for some who “wait and see”, the significance is often measured by the pain of a data loss event.

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Read more

Guest Post: What is my Gmail account really worth?

Originally posted on the by Jay Garmon, here is a way to assess the value of your Google Apps account … or at least just the email.

What, exactly, is your Gmail account worth to you?

That’s a complicated question but, at first blush, we’d guess about …roughly…$3,588.85.

That’s the value of the time invested in the average Gmail account, given how many emailsFile:Moneyenvelopeemail.png the average Gmail user has written (5,768), how long it takes to write the average email (one minute, 43 seconds), and the most recent U.S. Depart of Labor statistics on average annual salary ($45,230). In other words, if the average Gmail user were paid to recreate all the Gmail messages he or she’s ever written, it would cost $3,588.85.

How much is your Gmail account worth to you (and how do you stack up to the average Gmail user)? We built a Gmail Value Calculator to help you find out.

Just log in with your Gmail account, input your salary data, and the Gmail Value Calculator will determine:

  • How much your Gmail account is worth to you, in dollars
  • How many messages you send and receive per day
  • How much Gmail storage you use per day
  • Your average Gmail message size
  • Your Gmail Personality Index, which compares your Gmail usage to the average and determines whether you’re more extroverted or verbose than the typical Gmail user

Head over to Gmail-Value.Backupify.com, click the Autofill with Google button (it’s much easier than manually filling out your data), specify your salary, and in seconds you’ll learn what your Gmail account is worth to you.

It’s important to note that this number — how much of your time have you’ve spent writing emails multiplied by how much your time is worth — determines the minimum value of your Gmail account. In truth, your Gmail account is probably worth a lot more.

The $3,588.85 average figure doesn’t include the value of all the email you’ve received, the value of the time spent reading email, the value of any attachments included in your emails, or the simple fact that some emails are simply irreplaceable — especially if you lose them at the worst possible moment. (We’ve got a whole whitepaper devoted to parsing out the math on this issue.)

The average Gmail account is worth at least $3,588.85, but very likely a great deal more. Still, even that minimum figure is pretty impressive — as our Gmail Value Infographic explains. The text-friendly highlights are:

  • Your Gmail is worth $3,588.85, and increases by about $1,196 per year
  • You “spend” as much in Gmail every year as you do on your car
  • Your Gmail is worth five times as much as your laptop
  • Your Gmail represents over four weeks of wages
  • You store one old-school floppy disk (1.44 MB) of Gmail data every day

The complete Gmail Value Infographic is below. Click the image to view it all full size.