Last updated on February 13, 2019
G Suite is a great platform, it provides relative simplicity of administration with full suite of web-based cloud-first office applications. All that at a fraction of cost you would have to pay for self-hosted email server and MS Office suite.
What G Suite is missing, is automated backup capabilities. Google provides very limited protection against data deletions (no backup of Contacts, no recovery of individual Gmail messages or Drive files). To learn more about the limitations, check our post on restoring lost Google Apps data using native Google tools .
Most organizations require more complete data protection than the basic toolset provided by Google. Most of them use 3rd party G Suite data backup tools or subscribe to a premium Google e-discovery & retention tool called Google Vault to backup G Suite emails and Drive.
Afi.ai itself develops a cloud-to-cloud G Suite backup service, and as part of our internal competitive review we have analyzed major Google Apps backup tools on the market. We present a summary of this analysis in this post.
Basis for Comparison of the Products
We have installed each G Suite backup tool in the review in a test environment that includes 20 G Suite accounts and 1 Team Drive. The domain has 120 GB of data across all users, with 6 GB per one user on average. In order to test the speed and reliability of the backup tools, we used them to backup the whole domain, and restore the G Suite email and drive data back.
After we have collected the test results, we used the following criteria to rank G Suite backup software:
- Speed & recoverability
We use public information and interviews with partners/customers to assess vendors' credibility (how sure you can be that it will stay in business).
We give higher rank to the tools that provide more automation and require the least effort to manage (no confusing messages/warnings, intuitive interface).
Performance of the G Suite backup software differs greatly based on the maturity of their technology and architecture. We give the highest mark to modern cloud-first backup tools based on microservice architecture that tend to provide faster and more reliable service.
What are best G Suite Backup tools?
Based on criteria above we believe these are the top solutions:
- Afi G Suite Backup - cloud platform developed by us; easy to use yet powerful.
- Spanning Google Apps Backup - best-known vendor; focused on needs of large enterprises.
- SysCloud for G Suite - integrated security & backup, covering DLP and compliance needs.
In this overview we will focus on other major G Suite backup tools rather than promoting ours. But we invite you to try afi.ai backup for G Suite and see for yourself that it’s all that can be desired from a good G Suite data backup solution.
We believe that Spanning is the best alternative (after afi.ai) among the major G Suite backup solutions on the market - it supports all popular apps (Contacts and Team Drives included), and we were able to back up and recover our data in 19 out of 20 test cases. That being said, UX is unintuitive and resembles legacy on-premise software developed in previous decade (which it was). If you need to backup G Suite email with large attachments in it, Spanning doesn't always work smoothly. But their support is very helpful in resolving issues quickly.
Our second best choice is SysCloud - the platform works only with minor glitches, though few backup features are missing (audit logs, Google Sites granular recovery). In addition to G Suite cloud data backup, Syscloud offers DLP and monitoring capabilities if you need them.
|$36 per seat||
|$48 per seat||
One of the oldest, most well-known solutions. Overall reliable service, with minor glitches.
|$48 per seat||
Strong focus on DLP and compliance. Some key backup features missing (no granular Sites recovery, no audit logs).
|$36 per seat||
Basic backup solution with simple interface
|$36 per seat||
Complex UI, recoverability and service downtime issues.
|$24 per seat||
Simple interface, medium featureset. Cloud storage has to be bought and sat up separately.
|$36 per seat||
Complex unclear UI, hard to configure, setup & manage
|$48 per seat||
Service availability issues after acquisition by eFolder
Product Review Details
Backupify G Suite Backup
- CREDIBILITY: ~3,000 paying G Suite customers (the largest vendor on the market)
- SPEED & RECOVERABILITY: failed 9/20 times, deteriorating quality after being acquired by Datto
- USABILITY: One of the least user friendly cloud products we've tested.
Backupify for Google Apps was launched in 2008 - far earlier than any of its competitiors, and before the notion of cloud-to-cloud backup became apparent. At the time, it was the only automated G Suite backup tool that had cloud-to-cloud backup capabilities. Backupify provided simple G Suite email backup as well as non-business Gmail accounts backup for personal users. It took the company nearly 5 years to gain traction and reach $3M in revenues, as its product appeared early ahead of its time. In 2014 Backupify was acquired by Datto Corporation, which tried to integrate the solution into its broader disaster recovery and data protection solution.
As part of Datto, Backupify for G Suite started to experience quality and customer service issues. One glance at their glitchy UI, or a quick search on Reddit suggest that Backupify is hardly a good G Suite Backup option.
Datto Backupify dropping the ball - Reddit r/Data/Hoarder
All i can say is that i hate [Backupify] like a fat kid hates exercise. Let's forget about the random failures for no particular reason. Let's forget about the UI that makes you want to open a vein and wait for sweet relief. Do [Backupify] know the meaning of the words "reporting" or "notification"?
Backupify failed 9 of 20 our backup test cases, user experience turned out to be as described above. We felt it is important to mention Backupify before it's competitors, as it has the largest customer base. But we will not provide further details as the solution is barely workable, to the extent that it doesn't constitute real competition.
Spanning Google Apps Backup
- CREDIBILITY: ~2,500 paying G Suite customers (2nd largest vendor), one of the best known solutions
- SPEED & RECOVERABILITY: Overall reliable service, 19/20 successful backups-recoveries
- USABILITY: UX is outdated and has glitches. Strong focus on enterprise, some missing features for medium organizations
Spanning is one of the best known G Suite backup solutions on the market nowadays. They released their first version of Google Apps backup back in 2012, when it became the main competitor of Backupify. In 2014 Spanning Software was acquired by EMC, only to be spun off in 2017 as a separate company. During this time Spanning has suffered through a period of de-focus, but seem to have been returning back on track lately. Given it’s relatively long history, and large customer base they've accumulated, we judge Spanning backup for G Suite to be a trustworthy platform, with little to no chance of it disappearing any time soon.
G Suite marketplace has tens of user reviews praising Spanning Google Apps Backup for its clean interface. Despite this, we find its interface unintuitive – initial set up and on-boarding may be hard to follow through.
The tool is tailored for enterprises with sizable IT teams (with relevant features such as granular Admin roles within Spanning), who will need to find time learning the system and getting used to it. Some basic manipulations that are expected from any G Suite backup tool, such as ability to preview & download Gmail or Drive files, require significant effort - you have to generate a link, receive email message, then follow the link in the email and find & download requested file in your Spanning account.
Spanning UI: usable, with minor glitches
Spanning backup has all key features, including time-based restore, cross-user restore, end-user self-restore, granular admin roles and admin API.
It successfully backed up and restored in 19 out of 20 cases.
On one occasion Spanning faced an error when backing up Google Sites. The error message was not clear (see below), but chat support was quick and helped to resolve the issue within 1 hour. It took us approximately 2h 17 min to backup an email box 5 GB in size – mostly in line with other competitors (though much slower than afi.ai).
Spanning: error message during backup of Google Sites
Overall we regard Spanning as a strong G Suite backup solution that best fits large organizations and enterprises. The pricing is in line with the rest of the market - $48 per user annually, and they are offering volume discounts, especially to large businesses (3,000+ users)
SysCloud Backup for G Suite
- CREDIBILITY:~1,200 paying G Suite customers (3rd largest vendor)
- SPEED & RECOVERABILITY: Successful backup & recovery in 18 of 20 test cases.
- USABILITY: Strong focus on Data Leak Prevention, missing some core backup features
SysCloud is second best G Suite backup tool in our view. The company is 7 years old (established in 2011) and it is an independent software vendor, with no history of M&A.
In 18 of 20 cases, Syscloud was able to perform backup & restore of five G Suite apps succesfully. When trying to restore one mailbox, we faced an unknown error and SysCloud support could not resolve the issue. After waiting for 2 days, we tried another time and the issue resolved itself – we were able to restore the data, and the error did not appear afterwards.
It took us 2h 28m to backup a 5 GB mailbox (slightly slower than average on the market). Syscloud is heavily focused on DLP and security, in addition to G Suite backup features it offers compliance management, cloud app security audit and data sharing permission management, predefined security policy templates for FERPA, SOX, CA 1584, HIPAA, PCI, CIPA and other industry specific laws and regulations.
Syscloud: clean interface, some missing core features
Organizations that do not need DLP may find SysCloud efforts to upsell it slightly annoying. And while SysCloud backup has most of the core features, it’s missing unlimited backup retention, instant restore, and we found its G Suite backup dashboard incomplete without message center and granular protection status.
Upsafe G Suite Cloud Backup
- CREDIBILITY: Small vendor, estimated 50 paying G Suite end-customers as of Q1'18
- SPEED & RECOVERABILITY: No errors during our testing, but backup/restore speed slower than average
- USABILITY: Basic backup solution with simple interface
Upsafe is a small cloud service provider that does not develop its own G Suite backup software. Instead, Upsafe relies on cloud backup software platform developed by CloudBerry (which we also review below), using CloudBerry Google Apps backup software to provide cloud services. The company has been operational since 2015, and we could find little information about its size and operations. We estimate that Upsafe has around 50 G Suite business customers, making it one of the youngest and smallest vendor in this review.
The product supports all key G Suite applications, including Team Drives and Gmail, and all core backup features, including full or item-level backup, unlimited restore, search and item-level recovery. However, some features’ implementation is very limited, such as Role-Based Access Control, poor support of complex directory structures and permissions.
CloudBerry Backup for Google Apps for Business
- CREDIBILITY: Estimated 150 paying G Suite end-customers as of Q1'18
- SPEED & RECOVERABILITY: Success in all 20 cases, but initial Gmail backup is slow [1 day for 5GB box]
- USABILITY: Requires own customer cloud storage in AWS/Azure/Google Cloud. Primary focus is traditional on premise workloads
CloudBerry is a software vendor that doesn’t offer cloud-to-cloud backup service directly. Instead, it sells backup software that is deployed and used by end-customers as well as cloud service providers. Upsafe, mentioned above, is one of such service providers, and we described the Cloudberry product when looking at Upsafe G Suite backup.
If you decide to deploy CloudBerry to backup you G Suite data, you will need to:
- buy and configure your own cloud storage (AWS, Azure or GCP)
- install CloudBerry application
- connect cloud storage and G Suite with CloudBerry app
We used an AWS account to connect S3 storage. The entire process took approximately 1 hour, and the result looked very much like Upsafe. And as with Upsafe we were able to backup and restore in all 20 of 20 test cases.
Although Cloudberry has the lowest price among competitors, we estimate that additional costs (cloud storage, VM for cloudberry app) add $20-30 per seat per year, bringing the total price in line with the competition.
Want to compare pricing of G Suite backup tools and discounts you may get? Check our post on backup prices and volume discounts .