All sorts of data disasters happen, even when you rely on cloud services. Downloaded ransomware locks local files that sync to the cloud. An errant update erases essential data. Poor password management leads to lost control of an email account. A misconfigured command wipes out a variety of virtual machines. An employee eager to save storage space selects a set of rarely accessed folders and files, deletes them and empties the trash: No one notices for more than a month, at which point it is too late to recover the files.
Businesses that care about data need a solid backup solution. Before you select a solution, you’ll want to identify every place organizational data gets stored, since different systems back up data from end-user devices (e.g., phones, tablets, laptops or desktops), centralized storage (e.g., servers and network attached storage devices) and cloud services (e.g., Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, Salesforce). You also may want to estimate the total storage space required for backups. The following paragraphs focus on cloud backup of cloud data.
What is cloud backup?
A cloud backup is a copy of data that you access over the internet. As of 2022, most backup services offer cloud-based options that consist of software installed on a device that automatically copies new or changed data to remote servers over the internet. Before sending your data, the system typically encrypts the data (to help secure it) and also often compresses it (to reduce transfer time). Cloud-based backup may play an important role in data recovery in the event of a disaster, theft or malware issue.
Importantly, backup of data is not the same as sync. When you use a service such as Google Drive, for example, Google’s systems keep files in sync. Delete a file and it moves into the trash. Wait for more than 30 days and the file is gone after Google’s systems automatically empty the trash. That’s sync. A backup service, in contrast, will typically retain data for a much longer period of time. Should you need to recover a file deleted within, say, the past year (or more), a backup service allows you to do so.
SEE: Checklist: How to manage your backups (TechRepublic Premium)
What are cloud backup services?
A cloud backup service provides storage of data for a fee. Pricing is often based on the quantity of storage, the number of accounts, volume of data transferred or other services desired.
The cloud backup services covered below are all ones that offer cloud-to-cloud backup. Unlike a device-to-cloud service, which copies data from a laptop, onsite server or network attached storage device, cloud-to-cloud backup automatically backs up data from one or more software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendors. For this type of backup to be possible, the SaaS vendor needs to support access to system data in a secure manner. Sometimes, less sophisticated SaaS vendors lack this capability, so make sure to verify that vendors allow cloud-to-cloud backup when you select SaaS solutions.
Cloud backup services sometimes specialize. For example, a few vendors focus solely on backup of Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace data. These services ensure that an administrator can easily retrieve copies of email, files, calendar events and other items from the organization’s chosen cloud-based collaboration platform. While both Microsoft and Google maintain highly redundant and reliable systems, neither preserves versioned backup data of deleted data for more than a brief period of time.
Cloud-to-cloud backup vendors provide different levels of encryption control, data storage and retention options, and may also be governed by different laws and contractual agreements. Some vendors allow you, as the customer, to retain control of encryption security keys. Sole access to the encryption key ensures you are the only person with the key to decrypt the data. The downside, though, is that if you lose the key, you also lose access to the encrypted data. Where possible, assuming that you are ready to accept the responsibility, prefer a vendor that allows you sole control of encryption keys.
SEE: Cloud data storage policy (TechRepublic Premium)
Data storage retention controls may allow you to select not only what data is retained, but also for how long, as well as exactly where it is stored. These settings matter because data security and privacy laws differ in various countries and governments. If your backup contains sensitive data, you may not wish to have it stored in a place where it might be accessed by governmental officials. Additionally, if your organization must comply with HIPAA provisions, you should seek a backup provider willing to sign a business associate agreement. Many vendors blog about healthcare, but not every vendor that does so is willing to sign a business associate agreement.
Best cloud backup services
Each of the 11 solutions covered below offers a cloud-to-cloud backup service intended to serve business needs. Where available, both the headquarters location and number of employees are noted. The headquarters location may affect the laws with which the company must comply. The number of employees signals the overall size and potential scope of the company’s offerings. Additionally, some significant corporate structural changes are also noted, since an acquisition or change in ownership may subtly shift product focus and development.
The following solutions back up data from cloud services, such as Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace. Core cloud-to-cloud SaaS backup offerings are listed, but do make sure to explore the link to the company’s site, since new products and services may be available.
AvePoint offers cloud backup for Microsoft 365, Salesforce, Dynamics 365 and Google Workspace. And it’s been backing up Microsoft products “since SharePoint was Team Services and Microsoft 365 was BPOS,” or, in other words, quite a long time. In addition to standard backup and restoration of data, AvePoint offers partners “up to a $1M ransomware recovery warranty in case your data cannot be restored.” Headquartered in Jersey City, New Jersey, the company’s website states they have 1,800 employees. The AvePoint Trust Center shares various security, privacy and accessibility policies, along with compliance details. To obtain pricing, contact the company.
Backupify offers cloud-to-cloud backup of Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace data. Microsoft 365 cloud backup preserves Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint Online, Calendar, Contacts and Microsoft Teams information, while Google Workspace backup saves Gmail, Calendar, Contacts, Drive and Shared Drive data. To obtain pricing, you’ll need to fill out a form on the vendor’s site and wait for its response. Backupify is part of Datto (headquartered in Norwalk, Connecticut), which offers several solutions for backup, monitoring and network management, aimed at managed service providers and small and midsize businesses. Datto had more than 1,600 employees as of 2020.
Note: On April 11, 2022, Kaseya, which owns Spanning Backup covered below, announced the purchase of Datto. The transaction is expected to complete in 2022.
Barracuda Cloud-to-Cloud Backup focuses on Microsoft 365 backup of Teams, Exchange, SharePoint and OneDrive data backup. SharePoint backup, for example, lets you also preserve templates, permissions and metadata, along with libraries, lists and documents. Pricing isn’t published, but an online configurator helps you assess costs. Barracuda offers a broad range of products and services that deliver email protection, application and cloud security, network security and data protection. The company is headquartered in Campbell, California, and maintains a Trust Center page with security, privacy and compliance details on its website.
Commvault Backup & Recovery offers backup for a long list of services, including Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, Oracle databases, Microsoft 365 and Salesforce, as well as other virtual machines, databases and SaaS applications. The platform is part of a wide range of data protection, data security, and data compliance and governance tools. Aimed at the enterprise, obtaining pricing requires engagement with the company’s sales team. The company headquarters are based in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, with more than 2,700 employees total.
OpenText: Carbonite and CloudAlly
OpenText, with headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario (Canada), owns at least two distinct cloud-to-cloud backup offerings due to a series of acquisitions. The company employs approximately 14,000 people, according to its website.
Carbonite offers a range of device and cloud backup services, including Carbonite Backup for Microsoft 365. The service backs up Teams, OneDrive, Exchange, SharePoint, Groups, Planner and public folders. The company offers backup solutions aimed not only at home and professional use, but also businesses.
CloudAlly specializes in cloud-to-cloud backup of Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, Salesforce, Box and Dropbox data. Aimed at enterprise use, pricing in most cases is $3 per account per month or $30 per account per year, with education and nonprofit organization discounts available. In 2020, Zix acquired CloudAlly, then in late 2021, OpenText acquired Zix. CloudAlly provides a page dedicated to compliance, security and data protection details.
Redstor, based in Reading, Berkshire (United Kingdom), offers Azure Kubernetes, Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, Salesforce and Xero backup, among other services. The company provides backup, recovery, archiving and disaster recovery services, as well as data migration services, should you need to move data between different clouds. Redstor not only serves businesses directly, but also pursues partnerships with resellers and service providers. The company’s site notes its various ISO certifications.
SEE: How to support business continuity in the cloud (TechRepublic)
Based in Seattle, Washington, SkyKick specializes in backup, management and migrations of Microsoft 365 data and focuses on working exclusively with partners who are part of the Microsoft Partner Network. Cloud Backup for Microsoft 365 preserves Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint and Microsoft Teams data. The SkyKick Platform includes access to its Cloud Manager (for user administration and automation), Cloud Backup and Migration Suites (to move on-premises or Google Workspace data to Microsoft 365). Cloud Backup may be purchased separately, if that is the only service you seek.
Spanning provides cloud-to-cloud backup of Google Workspace, Microsoft 365 and Salesforce data. Microsoft 365 backup includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive and Microsoft Teams data, while Google Workspace backup includes Gmail, Drive (and Shared Drives), Calendars, Contacts and Sites data. To obtain pricing, you’ll need to fill out a form on the vendor’s site and wait for its response. Spanning is part of Kaseya (headquartered in Miami, Florida), which offers many solutions intended to help managed service providers and IT teams manage, monitor and secure systems. Its Data Protection Security page lists a variety of compliance, encryption and audit details.
Spin.ai offers to back up Google Workspace, Microsoft 365 and Salesforce data for your company. You may choose to back up your data to one or more selected storage locations, including Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, Azure or a custom destination. In most cases, SpinBackup pricing begins at $3 per account per month with a minimum of 10 licenses. SpinOne, billed as its all-in-one offering, is priced at $9 per account per month (also with a minimum of 10 licenses). Its Data Protection and Security page covers various compliance details. The company, with more than 50 full-time team members, is headquartered in Palo Alto, California.
Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365 backs up data to a wide range of destinations, including Amazon S3, Azure Blob or IBM Cloud, as well as offering onsite storage. The company promotes that it offers 45 recovery options total for data backed up from Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business and Microsoft Teams. It is one of a range of solutions intended to back up virtual workloads (e.g., data on AWS, Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud), cloud applications (Oracle, SAP and Microsoft) and enterprise server backup on a variety of operating systems. Originally based in Switzerland, the company headquarters moved to Columbus, Ohio, after Veeam was purchased by Insight Partners in March 2020. Their website states the company has more than 4,500 employees.
NetBackup SaaS Protection from Veritas preserves data from services such as Microsoft 365 (Outlook and Exchange, SharePoint and OneDrive, along with Microsoft Teams), Google Workspace, Box and Slack. It is one of a wide range of backup solutions, including NetBackup, Backup Exec and NetBackup Appliance Solutions. Veritas offers many backup, availability, analytic and compliance solutions aimed at enterprise customer needs. Veritas headquarters are in Santa Clara, California. With more than 6,000 employees., the company notes that “87% of the Fortune Global 500 choose NetBackup.”
Choose at least one backup solution
No matter how many devices or data storage sources an organization has, a responsible IT leader will make sure that all essential organizational data is backed up. Sometimes, this means a mix of solutions: one vendor for cloud-to-cloud data backup and another for device backup. Other times, it may make sense to consolidate backup with an enterprise-focused vendor that offers a diverse suite of solutions. A reliable backup solution helps ensure that you can recover data whenever necessary.
Regardless of which vendor you select, be aware that SaaS backup services focused solely on serving the backup needs of a business are rare. Services with a cloud-to-cloud SaaS backup offering typically expand to offer related features (e.g., management, migration, compliance or training) or choose to focus on a specific customer segment (e.g., IT managed service providers or resellers, rather than an end-user business customer). These changes often result in a wider range of products and services available, but may diminish a vendor’s distinctive focus on backup. Be ready to review your selected backup system as vendor focus and strengths evolve.