Backup as a Service
Backup as a Service

SaaS Data Backup & Recovery: Features, Benefits, FAQs

November 7, 2023

What is SaaS Backup?

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) backup involves protecting, duplicating, and storing all the data in your SaaS products.

The average company uses dozens of SaaS applications daily — making SaaS backup solutions more critical than ever, since you could lose critical data if you fail to back up your SaaS tools.

SaaS backup means backing up the data within the SaaS applications your organization uses, such as:

  • Salesforce
  • Jira
  • Microsoft 365 — including Outlook, Sharepoint, One Drive and Microsoft Teams.
  • Dropbox
  • Notion
  • Trello
  • Terraform
  • AWS SaaS modules such as AWS CloudFormation and AWS Lambda
  • Google Cloud modules such as Artifact Registry and Cloud Bigtable

SaaS data protection is critical to prevent data loss due to disasters, accidental deletion, outages and cybercrime. 

In this guide, you'll understand the importance of SaaS backup, data protection best practices, and what to look for in a SaaS backup solution.

The Problem with SaaS Data Protection

You might think you don't need to back up SaaS data because it is already in the cloud, but this isn't the case at all. 

Many of these businesses fail to back up SaaS data because they presume their SaaS provider already does this for them. 

Most SaaS customers don’t realize that data protection and security of SaaS applications falls within a shared responsibility model — where the SaaS provider is responsible for the security of the application and underlying infrastructure, and the customer is responsible for ensuring their data within the application is safe and protected.

Software as a Service (SaaS)

SaaS is a software distribution model where a provider hosts applications in the cloud.

The provider makes these apps available to you, the end user, via the internet. That means you don't need to set up, manage or maintain business-critical apps yourself or host expensive physical equipment on your company's premises. 

Instead, with the SaaS model, your provider does all that work for you in exchange for a monthly subscription fee. Although the provider is responsible for maintaining the application and the application’s underlying infrastructure, as a user it is important to understand the areas that you must still pay close attention to in order to keep your business safe. 

Data backup and restore is a key area that SaaS users must pay attention to, and most users don’t realize that it is their responsibility to ensure they have a plan in place to backup and restore their data within the SaaS applications they use. 

Related: Top 14 SaaS Backup Solutions & Providers (Ranked & Rated)

Backup as a Service (BaaS)

There are several ways to backup SaaS solutions, but backup as a service is perhaps the most effective.

Key Points re: Backup as a Service (BaaS)

  • It involves a third-party company that provides users with a cloud-based solution to protect data within the user’s SaaS apps. 
  • Data from the user’s SaaS apps is then stored in a cloud environment or a destination of the user’s choosing. 
  • BaaS is a great way for SaaS users to ensure their data is protected from accidental deletions, outages, hackers, thieves, and other unauthorized persons. 
  • By definition, backup as a service is a type of SaaS backup software delivered as a service.
  • BaaS providers host the SaaS application using their computing resources, usually in the cloud, removing the need for the user to maintain physical hardware to host their backup software on their on-premises. 

Related: The 10 Best Backup as a Service (BaaS) Providers Right Now

Benefits of SaaS Data Backups

Protect Against Data Loss

SaaS data loss can happen for various reasons:

  • Your team members accidentally delete data from systems and apps.
  • Malware/ransomware infects your systems and deletes data.
  • SaaS providers experience technical issues that cause data loss.

SaaS backups improve data protection by backing up data at regular intervals to secure storage like immutable, air-gapped storage so hackers can't access it.

Leading SaaS backup and restore solutions also have instant, granular restore capabilities that allow you to quickly restore data from backup if you experience a data compromise event.

Ensure Business Continuity

Losing critical data can seriously impact business continuity, and up to 94% of companies experiencing a severe data loss event never recover. Data recovery can sometimes take months or even years if a company hasn't backed up data from their SaaS applications (and other data sources).

Meet Compliance Requirements

In some jurisdictions and industries, businesses need to back up new and archival data and create data retention policies. GDPR, for example, stipulates that consumers must have access to their data at all times. Unfortunately, this isn't possible if businesses fail to back up data and then lose it. The right SaaS backup solution will offer customizable retention policies and help companies comply with relevant frameworks and legislation.

Key Features of a SaaS Backup Solution

Here are some of the features to consider when searching for a SaaS backup solution for your organization:

  • Point-in-time backups: Point-in-time backups let you recover data changes to a specific point in time in the past, making this recovery solution useful after a data loss event such as a ransomware attack or an accidental deletion.
  • Daily backups: You should choose a solution that backs up data daily at minimum. This can provide access to data after accidental deletion, ransomware attacks, human error, and other data loss events.
  • Granular data recovery options: A good SaaS backup and recovery solution provides granular options for data recovery. This enables you to select specific components to recover, like a single Jira Project, as opposed to the entire Jira instance.
  • Multi-platform support: Choose one  solution that protects as much of your data estate as possible, across infrastructure and SaaS applications used in your business, such as Microsoft Office 365 (including  Microsoft Teams, OneDrive and Outlook), Dropbox, Jira and Salesforce.
  • Data retention and compliance: Consider a solution that not only helps you restore data after a crisis event, but also enables you to set retention policies to meet compliance criteria.
  • Fair pricing: Choose from SaaS backup solutions that offer competitive pricing and value for money. Your backup service shouldn't cost the earth, and should have  the capabilities needed for you to ensure that you are able to be resilient and that your SaaS data will be available and recoverable when you need it. 
  • Simplicity: Look for a SaaS backup solution that is simple to implement and use. Keep an eye out for features like the ability to easily upgrade and add protection for other data sources your organization uses. Your backup & recovery solution should also have a small learning curve and should NOT require professional services!
  • Automated data backups and instant restore  Automated data backups make it easy to “set and forget” backup policies. Your backups are automated to run on a schedule, 24/7, giving you peace of mind  that you will be able to prevent downtime and data loss in the event of an accidental deletion, ransomware attack or outage.
  • Enterprise cloud data: The best SaaS protection tools protect enterprise cloud data on platforms like Google Workspace, Microsoft365, and Okta, helping you safeguard your most business-critical information.

Related: The 7 Best Jira Cloud Backup Providers & Solutions

Data Protection Best Practices for SaaS Applications

Here are some best practices for data protection for SaaS applications:

Familiarize yourself with the Shared Responsibility Model

The Shared Responsibility Model is a framework that lists the responsibilities of cloud service providers when protecting their cloud environment for customers, and also applies to most SaaS applications. 

Learn more about this model to understand how providers protect data in your SaaS applications and SaaS platforms.

Identify all business app data sources

To achieve your SaaS backup objectives, you must first be able to identify all the app data sources you use in your organization so you can protect them. 

For example, you might know that your organization keeps data in apps such as Salesforce, Google Workspace and Jira but what other applications are in use by other teams? 

Set the appropriate backup policies 

Defining the frequency of your backups is essential when protecting data. This should be based on how much data within the SaaS application you can afford to lose. Do you need multiple backups in a 24-hour period or will weekly or daily backups suffice?

Be sure you can meet recovery objectives

Our recovery objectives determine how quickly you will be able to restore your data in the event of an outage, ransomware attack or accidental deletion. There are two key recovery objectives to keep in mind:

  • Recovery Time Objective (RTO) - The maximum length of time it should take to restore normal operations after an outage or data loss event.
  • Recovery point Objective (RPO) - The maximum amount of data your organization can afford to lose, measured in time. 

Example: If you can only afford to lose 6 hours of Microsoft365 data, your RPO for Microsoft365 would be 6 hours.

Review legal data retention requirements

Understand any retention policies or legislation in your industry or region that govern how you protect new and archival data. For example, you might not be able to back up customer data that no longer serves a purpose.

Develop approved protocols for handling ransomware attacks and other crisis events

Creating internal protocols for dealing with malware, ransomware attacks, accidental deletion, and other events can improve your recovery outcomes. For example, resetting passwords, identifying the source of the problem, and performing a point-in-time backup.

SaaS Backup FAQs

Are SaaS applications already backed up?

Many SaaS providers offer limited capabilities to backup data within the SaaS application, but often these services don’t meet your security standards or provide functionality to restore the backed up data.. That's why it's important to use your own backup solution.

What other capabilities should I look for in my SaaS backup provider?

In addition to backup and restore for the technologies you have today, it is also important to look for a provider that has technology that is capable of scaling to protect new SaaS applications you may choose to use in the future. Look for a provider with a scalable, extensible architecture that is future-proofed to easily add protection for new data sources. 

In addition to providing backup and restore for SaaS applications, it is helpful to look for a single provider that can also offer:

  • Data protection for on-premises infrastructure, cloud infrastructure and cloud services like Database-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service.
  • Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service for your infrastructure workloads
  • Migration and cross-platform data mobility
  • Flexible storage options. 

How does a SaaS data backup service protect against ransomware?

With over 50% of ransomware attacks being carried out on SaaS applications - it is critical to ensure your SaaS backup and recovery solution has the right capabilities to protect your business from the impact of a successful attack.

Leading SaaS backup solutions enable you to set up automated backups that run 24/7 and have immutable, WORM enabled storage options to prevent your data from being encrypted. Granular recovery and guaranteed recovery objectives are also important to  Help make sure you can restore data quickly after a ransomware attack.

HYCU Supports Backup & Recovery of your SaaS Data

SaaS backup provides you with peace of mind, allowing you to recover business-critical data after an attack, accidental deletion, or another scenario. 

Failing to backup your SaaS tools could result in permanent data loss, making it difficult to continue business operations. 

That's why choosing the right SaaS backup solution like HYCU is essential to ensure you safeguard your valuable information. 

HYCU delivers modern data protection for modern applications via a single platform that ensures you can see, manage, protect and recover data across your data estate from on-premises to cloud to SaaS. 

Here is a list of currently supported SaaS apps, with modules being regularly added.

HYCU covers the most SaaS data sources of any provider in market and enables you to:

  • Gain complete visibility into your data estate with built-in graphic visualization.
  • Simplify data management across on-premises, cloud and SaaS with a single platform, delivered as-a-Service - no agents, hardware or additional software required.
  • Set up automated backups that run 24/7 in minutes.
  • Easily meet compliance requirements with customizable data retention policies.
  • Boost your data security with immutable, WORM-enabled storage.
  • Take advantage of granular restore and guaranteed recovery objectives so you can have peace of mind that your data will be available when you need it. 
Start your SaaS data protection journey now by contacting HYCU for a demo

Data Protection FAQs

What types of data should my data protection provider backup?

  • On-premises data: On-premises (or on-prem) data is all the data you keep in private data centers at your business location instead of in the cloud. This data might include customer records, documents, spreadsheets, images, metadata, logs, videos, and data in software and databases. Unlike SaaS and other types of cloud data, you own and manage on-premise data yourself.
  • Data from SaaS applications: Software-as-a-service data is kept in SaaS applications like SharePoint, Google Workspace, G Suite, and OneDrive. As a result, this data exists in the cloud, and you can access it via an internet browser. Unlike on-prem, a SaaS provider will manage your data but typically doesn't own it.
  • Public cloud data: Public cloud data is data that is used in a public cloud environment and includes documents, logs, images, and spreadsheets, among many other things. It might also include SaaS data and data from Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), Database-as-a-Service (DBaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS). A public cloud provider will store this data for you, removing the need to keep data at your business location. However, providers can still experience outages and their data centers are susceptible to disasters, so it is important to have a disaster recovery plan in place for your cloud data. A cloud-to-cloud backup between two public cloud platforms can also enable flexibility through cross-cloud data mobility.

What is a Cloud-to-Cloud Backup?

A cloud-to-cloud backup involves copying data from one cloud service to another, for example, backing up data from AWS to Google Cloud Platform or AWS to Microsoft Azure. Cloud-to-cloud backups can be used as part of a disaster recovery plan to safeguard against outages, downtime, and data loss. A comprehensive backup and recovery solution will often have this as an option.

Are public cloud services already backed up?

All public cloud providers offer some kind of backup, but these services might not meet your security standards. That's why it's important to use your own backup solution.

What are the risks of not having a disaster recovery solution?

Not having an adequate disaster recovery solution means you can't recover data after a crisis event like accidental deletion, social engineering attacks, data breaches, or any other type of severe data loss. That’s why all companies from large enterprises down to small businesses are recommended to have a fortified backup solution in place. 

What is an IaaS data backup? 

An Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) backup involves backing up data being used in your IaaS environment. All of the hyper scale public clouds (AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure) offer compute services that deliver IaaS. IaaS backups help to ensure that you have a safe copy of your data so you can recover in the event of a data loss event.

How do I back up on-premises and cloud databases?

Backing up an on-premise or cloud database involves using a suitable backup service that connects with your database. Select data protection providers, like HYCU, provide backup and restore for cloud databases such as Google CloudSQL, Google BigQuery and Amazon RDS. 

The solution will carry out regular backups and store the backup data in a location of your choosing, ideally different from your production or cloud environment. You can then access this backed-up data after an event like a malware attack or accidental deletion. 

Are public cloud services already backed up?

A common myth is that because your data is in the public cloud, it is already backed up somewhere. That is not the case. Many public cloud providers do offer some native backup capabilities, but these are often difficult to implement - requiring scripts - and might not meet your security standards, data retention requirements or recovery objectives. That's why it's important to use your own backup solution.

What is a cloud data backup?

Cloud data backups are those that back up various types of data to or from the cloud. For example, you can back up non-SaaS cloud data and data kept on your business premises in physical servers and databases. 

Cloud data backups improve data protection by automatically backing up data at regular intervals, encrypting data so hackers can't access it, and storing multiple copies of cloud data in different locations. This protection enables you to restore data if it goes missing or gets stolen.

Shive Raja Headshot

Director of Product Management

Andy Fernandez is the Director of Product Management at HYCU, an Atlassian Ventures company.  Andy's entire career has been focused on data protection and disaster recovery for critical applications. Previously holding product and GTM positions at Zerto and Veeam, Andy’s focus now is ensuring organizations protect critical SaaS and Cloud applications across ITSM and DevOps.  When not working on data protection, Andy loves attending live gigs, finding the local foodie spots, and going to the beach.

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