How to Set Up SaaS Backups?

SimpleBackups founder

Laurent Lemaire

Co-founder, SimpleBackups

September 13, 2023

Imagine waking up one day and realizing that your SaaS provider has experienced a data breach or system failure. All vital business data is now gone. And though you thought your data is securely stored in their cloud, you’re left grappling with devastating consequences like lost customer information, financial records, or even other operational data.

Informing customers about this irrecoverable loss is challenging. It not only jeapordizes their trust and confidence in your business but it can ultimately cripple your reputation, productivity, and ability to meet deadlines. So, what do backup solutions for SaaS mean in practice? Keep reading to find out!

Importance of Backing Up Your SaaS Data

A straightforward reason why some businesses don't have SaaS backup files is that they don't understand the associated risks. According to a survey by EMC Corp., 80% of businesses using SaaS have suffered some form of data loss.

Despite the widespread use of SaaS applications, businesses will continue to permanently misplace, lose, overwrite, or delete important data because they lack an extra protection layer. A SaaS backup solution is not just a precaution but essential for data protection.

Without a reliable SaaS backup, businesses are vulnerable to critical data loss due to accidental deletion, human errors, malicious activities, or technical failures. SaaS backups act like a safety net for recovery in such situations.

In today’s regulatory landscape, various businesses have to navigate a complex web of compliance mandates including HIPAA (healthcare), GDPR and SOX (finance). These standards require a tailored approach to data availability, specifically for periodic auditing and reporting. SaaS backup solutions are integral in meeting these standards as they ensure consistent data availability for periodic audits and reporting. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in hefty fines and legal penalties. For instance, severe GDPR violations can lead to a fine of up to 20 million euros or 4% of global turn over, whichever is worth more. 

Evaluating Your SaaS Backup Needs

When strategizing and selecting the best SaaS backup option for you, keep in mind factors like:

  • Business Size: Larger businesses have more complex data management needs, including a more extensive data volume and more users accessing their SaaS services. Smaller companies might have simpler requirements. Your business size influences the level of automation required from your SaaS backup software.
  • Data Types: What type of data does your organization store within SaaS applications? This might include customer information, financial records, payment details, intellectual property, documents, etc. Classify data based on its sensitivity because confidential data requires thorough backup measures.
  • Data Change Frequency: How often does the data within your SaaS applications change? Some businesses continuously modify and generate data, while others have relatively static data. The higher the frequency of data changes, the more backups you will require to prevent data loss.
  • Regulatory and Compliance Requirements: Research industry or geo-specific regulations that apply to your firm and ensure your SaaS backup solution aligns with these criteria. Regulations like GDPR and HIPAA require specific data retention and backup practices.
  • Recovery Objectives: Define acceptable downtime and data loss thresholds. Choose a backup method compatible with the maximum downtime and data loss your organization can afford.
  • SaaS Application Ecosystem: Different SaaS applications might have distinct backup requirements. Consider the SaaS range your business uses and ensure your backup solution supports these platforms.
  • Budget and Resources: Assess the available budget for a SaaS backup solution and the resources you can allocate to its management. Consider upfront costs like infrastructure and ongoing operational expenses like support staff. Also, evaluate if you have knowledgeable IT staff to implement your backup environment or if you will require external support. Perhaps your business is looking to modernize with a custom solution.
  • Scalability and Growth Plans: Think about your business' potential growth opportunities. Backup solutions for SaaS should be scalable, flexible, and adapt to your business's growing storage needs. It's important to review and update backup solutions with changing requirements regularly.

Different Types of SaaS Backup Solutions

Why are you choosing to back up your SaaS data to an external service? The most common reasons are outsourcing maintenance, reducing IT effort, lowering costs, and, most importantly, efficiently recovering from data loss.

SaaS backup software like SimpleBackups offers flexible options for selecting between external storage or the platform's built-in cloud, SimpleStorage. But how do cloud, on-premise, and hybrid backup solutions for SaaS compare to these requirements?

On-Premise Backups

On-premise SaaS backup solutions involve storing files within your physical infrastructure, like a data center. Applications not hosted in the cloud or sensitive data typically use this approach as an additional security layer.

In-house backups are excellent for organizations subjected to strict regulatory and compliance requirements because they give complete control over the infrastructure and data. To minimize downtime, you can also customize backup processes in sync with peak usage.

However, the major downside to these backups is the upfront capital investment for hardware, networking, and other equipment. On-premise backup systems also require ongoing upgrades, maintenance, and management, which can be resource-intensive. Unlike cloud solutions, backup data can't be retrieved remotely online.

Cloud-to-Cloud Backups

This backup strategy involves copying data and applications from the SaaS provider’s cloud to another cloud service. It requires no physical infrastructure and is commonly used for backing up data from cloud-based SaaS applications like Microsoft 365, GitHub Enterprise, and Knack.

Cloud-to-cloud backups offer excellent data protection against data corruption and accidental deletion by leveraging SaaS APIs. It also offers scalability, ensuring your backup grows with your SaaS infrastructure and can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection.

However, like any web-based platform, cloud-based backups are prone to cyber-attacks and unauthorized access

Hybrid Solutions

Hybrid backup solutions for SaaS use a combination of cloud and on-premise systems for more flexibility. Critical data is stored in a cloud and an in-house backup infrastructure for additional redundancy, offering more strategy customization and data availability.

Storing backup data in multiple locations reduces the risk of data loss. In case of physical site failures, you can always recover data from the cloud backup.

However, hybrid backups are complicated because they require specialized expertise in managing cloud and on-premise systems simultaneously. The expense is also significantly higher than other solutions because it requires investment in cloud subscriptions and local server maintenance.

Steps to Set Up SaaS Backups

Selecting a backup solution depends entirely on your organization's specific needs. Start by listing the SaaS applications your business relies on, assessing data criticality, and evaluating compliance requirements.

Then, research various SaaS backup software, looking for features like:

  • Intuitive, user-friendly interface with easy setup and management.
  • Automated, frequent backups.
  • Data retention policies.
  • Granular restoration for specific files or records rather than entire backups.
  • Real-time monitoring and notification capabilities to stay informed about backup status.

Each SaaS backup service has its own configuration process. You can generally configure backups for SaaS emails, attachments, documents, and CRM data like customer information, workflows, and calendar events.

You must generate app-specific tokens to connect SaaS platforms to your selected backup service. Follow the steps below to create and retrieve these keys depending on the SaaS application you use:

Knack Tokens

  1. Log into your Knack account through the builder API.
  2. From the settings tab, access the API & Code options.
  3. Copy your Application ID and API Key to your clipboard.

Github Tokens

  1. Log into your GitHub account and access the settings tab.
  2. Locate the Developer settings and tap on Tokens (Classic).
  3. Generate a personal access token.

Gitea Tokens

  1. Login to the Gitea interface using your credentials.
  2. Navigate to user settings and select the Applications tab in the left-hand menu.
  3. Tap Generate New Token on the Access Tokens page.

Configuring and Running your First Backup:

Once you have your SaaS API token, you can set up your first backup through the SimpleBackups platform.

  1. Login to your SimpleBackups account. Click "Create Backup" and "Recipe Backups."
  2. Select the SaaS application tile and enter your generated token, username, and hostname in the pop-up window.
  3. You can choose private or organizational accounts and which repositories you want to back up.
  4. Then, select a server. You can choose between SimpleStorage, an external provider, or mounted volumes.
  5. After your backup has been validated, all you have to do is set a retention schedule and backup frequency based on your requirements.

Your First SaaS Backup

Let's say you work for a software development company that uses Github for code collaboration. After setting up your GitHub token and selecting a backup tool, it’s time to run your first backup.

This step is crucial not only for safeguarding your projects but also for aligning with the future of software development. As the industry evolves, ensuring that your workflows and data are backed up represents a commitment to adaptability and resilience.

The initial backup should copy all repositories and their associated data. A complete backup like this might take time, depending on file size and complexity.

After your first “full” backup, you can opt for regular incremental backups. This captures changes since the last backup instead of copying all data again, saving time and reducing the required storage bandwidth for subsequent backups.

Backup Frequency and Scheduling

The optimal SaaS backup schedule and frequency depend on various factors, such as the nature of your application, data criticality, compliance requirements, and individual requirements.

Daily backups are standard for SaaS applications that handle frequently changing or highly sensitive data. These backups ensure all changes are captured, minimizing data corruption or loss.

Backing up your SaaS application daily is also a good option when instant or real-time data recovery is required. For example, in SaaS project management, daily backups can protect assignment progress and other time-sensitive data.

However, daily backups take up more storage than weekly backups. If your SaaS data doesn't change as frequently or you can afford a more extended recovery point, weekly backups might be a better option.

Weekly backups are commonly used for less volatile data that doesn't have strict compliance regulations. They are more cost-effective than daily backups and require fewer resources. For instance, SaaS blog management might choose to perform weekly backups because their posts have a slower update cycle compared to real-time collaboration tools.

Ultimately, the choice between weekly and daily backup scheduling depends on thoroughly assessing the SaaS application's requirements and your business's available resources and recovery objectives. You can also combine weekly and daily backups by dividing data based on importance.

Best Practices for Maintaining SaaS Backups

To secure your backup files and ensure their reliability, thorough maintenance and monitoring are essential.

Access control is fundamental to such upkeep because it involves controlling who can access backup systems and data. Only authorized personnel should be able to access and manage backups. Experiment with a role-based access control (RBAC) policy to allocate user permissions based on job roles.

Adjust these rights to ensure they reflect any organizational changes. Remember to keep access audit logs as a means of security monitoring or for future reference.

Data should be encrypted at rest and in transit. Use reliable algorithms and protocols like RSA keys, SSL, and AES encryption. Your encryption and authentication measures should align with industry standards. Regularly update encryption keys and certificates to maintain confidentiality.

Backup files should be tested periodically to verify that they are complete and recoverable. Simulate real-world scenarios like hacks or deletions to ensure the backup and restoration processes function correctly.

It's crucial to test backups for consistency and completeness, too. Keep track of all test results and identified problems to fine-tune your backup strategy. Also, consider using an automated validation tool to enhance and streamline the testing process.

Monitoring solutions help you keep a watchful eye on all backup processes and hardware. Monitor key performance indicators like backup completion rates, backup times, storage consumption, and resource utilization. Use this data to identify trends and potential areas for improvement. Set up notifications and alerts to detect failures and anomalies in the backup environment.

Conclusion and Next Steps

A SaaS backup is imperative for protecting vital data from unexpected disasters like data corruption or cyberattacks. Backups can help businesses operate seamlessly without downtime while minimizing the risk of digital asset loss by acting like an automated security mechanism.

Don’t leave your valuable information vulnerable to unforeseen accidents. Instead, consider using a SaaS backup solution like SimpleBackups to fortify your data protection approach. Follow our socials for more information!

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