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Cloud-to-cloud backup vendor discloses what data it can't protect

Cloud-to-cloud backup vendor Spanning wants you to know that there is information that its Backup for Google Apps cannot protect. And neither can its competitors protect those files.

The latest version of Spanning Backup for Google Apps launched this week includes a status reporting feature that shows customers problems with the most recent backup. This report includes data that cannot be backed up because of limitations in the Google API that affect files such as Google Forms and scripts.

“Customers need to trust that data will be there when they restore,” said Mat Hamlin, Spanning’s director of product management. “We’re now providing granular insight into each user’s data so administrators can understand what data has been backed up and what data has not been backed up. Third-party files, Google Forms and scripts are not available for us to back up. Customers may not be aware of that. When they come to us to back up all the data, the expectation is we will back up all that data. We want them to know what we cannot back up.”

Google Apps and are the chief software-as-a-services (SaaS) apps protected by cloud-to-cloud backup vendors.

Spanning’s new report also brings other problems to customers’ attention so they can take action. It flags zero byte files that could indicate corrupt files, and points out temporary problems that are likely to be resolved within two or three days.

Hamlin said the data that cannot be backed typically up makes up a small percentage of data in Google Apps. He said Spanning is coming clean to add transparency, both for Spanning and competitors. He said Spanning often tells customers up front about the limitations, but competitors will not admit those limitations.

Ben Thomas, VP of security of Spanning’s chief competitor Backupify, said Backupify for Google Apps runs into the same problems. However, he said there are ways to minimize these limitations.

“We do have similar things we run into,” Thomas said. “Some cloud systems, whether it’s Google or Salesforce or other apps, may not have API calls available to pieces of data. Some API calls may be throttled, so only so many API calls per hour or per day can be made. We’ve been smart over the years about the way we manage throttling. For example, Google will throttle the amount of data per day per e-mail. The limit is a 1.5 gigabyte a day now. If we’re continually hitting that limit, we scale ourselves back to meet that. And we do that for every API.”

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