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These days, companies turn to SaaS solutions for a range of business needs, from collaboration tools to accounting and payroll to customer relationship management.  There are definitely advantages to these SaaS solutions. For instance:

  • Less on-site infrastructure
  • Reduced cost
  • Economies of scale

Another advantage is that storage in cloud apps tends to be safer than on-premises hardware storage devices. Still, one-third of SaaS users have reportedly lost data in the cloud, according to a 2013 survey by Aberdeen. The risk of losing important files or metadata is why businesses should not rely on SaaS applications as a form of data backup. SaaS companies have their uses, but data backup should not be one of them.

Why data is lost

From important files being stored in Dropbox to a database of client interactions in Salesforce, business data takes many forms. And data loss can happen for several reasons:

  • User errors, such as accidental deletions
  • Malicious attacks from hackers
  • External app errors, such as data corruption or accidental over-writing
  • Data loss during migration from one platform to another

There are often ways that “lost” data can be restored. The trouble is, those methods can be costly in terms of time and money.

Limitations of recovery

Relying on SaaS providers to recover lost data has limitations. For starters, few people have recovery rights. And deleted data is only stored for a particular length of time—once that time has passed, the data is lost forever. Data recovery from SaaS applications could take minutes, or it could take weeks. For example, deleted data in Google Apps stays in the Trash folder for 30 days before it’s permanently deleted, yet only an admin can recover data from the Trash folder. While Google itself doesn’t provide recovery services, companies can purchase archive capabilities for $10 per user per month. Meanwhile, Salesforce charges a minimum of $10,000 for their support team to recover lost data. Furthermore, users may not have control over which data can be recovered. In some cases, like in Google Apps, it’s all or nothing. What’s worse, in some cases recovered data must be re-entered into the app manually. Salesforce is one SaaS provider that requires manual imports of recovered data.

Why you need backups

The whole point of backups is to avoid having a single point of failure. That’s why businesses back up their on-premises data to cloud servers. But when it comes to deleted files, how do SaaS providers know whether the deletion was intentional or not? The answer is, they don’t. So SaaS providers are not actively backing up deleted data, whether the deletion was unintentional or malicious. For that reason, businesses who use SaaS applications must take on responsibility for backing up their data, whether it is stored locally or in the cloud. Cloud-to-cloud backups are a better solution than relying on SaaS applications alone. That’s because cloud-based applications are equipped to restore data lost due to natural disasters or data corruption at the data center level.

Benefits of third-party backups

Third-party backup solutions provide companies with control over their data recovery processes. Cloud-based backup services, such as Amazon Web Services, allow client businesses to search backup data and restore what is needed to ensure business continuity. Other benefits of third-party backup systems include:

  • Copies of data from any point in time
  • Complete backups, including metadata
  • Fast data recovery and restoration

Ultimately, this goes beyond a simple case of “better safe than sorry.” Data security is a serious issue for many kinds of businesses. It may be time for your company to consider a third-party cloud-to-cloud backup solution for your SaaS application data.