Last updated on Oct 3rd, 2019
G Suite is a great platform. It provides the relative simplicity of administration combined with full suite of web-based cloud office applications. All that at a fraction of the cost you would have to pay for a self-hosted email server and MS Office suite.
At the same time, G Suite provides very limited protection against data deletions, overwrites (no backup of Contacts, no recovery of individual Gmail messages or Drive files) and against ransomware. To learn more about the limitations, check our post on restoring lost Google Apps data using native Google tools .
Most organizations realize that they need more complete data protection than the basic toolset provided by G Suite. To backup G Suite Drive and email data organizations often use 3rd party G Suite data backup tools or Google Vault (Google e-discovery & archiving tool - we discuss it in a separate blog post).
As shown in the chart above, there are 5 main types of G Suite backup solutions:
- Cloud Backup Services - used by most organizations, as they provide more reliable service immune to local network, storage capacity and other errors. This blog article will thus focus on this group.
- Traditional Backup Software - on-prem sotware tools that support G Suite as a workload type, in addition to the traditional workloads (VMware, Hyper-V, Physical Servers); in most cases such products provide only partial support of G Suite.
- Local backups for G Suite - are focused on G Suite and other SaaS applicatoins protection, but dont provide fully managed cloud service; storage typically has to be purchased and managed separately.
- Hardware Appliances - NAS/SAN storage devices that can take regular backups of Google Apps and store them locally.
- Native Google Tools - basic capabilities provided by Google, enabling G Suite admins to retain and export G Suite data, but have no restore capabilites.
We will focus on the Cloud G Suite Backup products due to their popularity and complexity/cost advantage. If you're interested in native Google data protection capabilities and physical appliances, please check our other blog posts.
Afi.ai itself develops a cloud G Suite backup service, and this summary is based on our internal competitive review. We include in it the most prominent Google Apps backup tools on the market.
Basis for Comparison
We have installed each G Suite backup tool included in the review on a test environment with 20 G Suite user accounts and 1 Team Drive. The domain has 120 GB of data across all users, with 5 GB per user account on average. In order to test the speed and reliability of the backup tools, we used them to backup the entire domain, and restore G Suite email and drive data back.
In addition to 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.
We give higher rank to the tools that provide more automation and require the least efforts to manage (e.g. less or no errors and failures, fast & responsive UI).
Performance of the G Suite backup software differs greatly based on 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 the best G Suite Backup tools?
Based on the criteria above we believe these are the best G Suite backup vendors, aside from Afi G Suite Backup:
- Spanning Google Apps Backup - one of the largest cloud vendors. Slow restore, but overall reliable service with independed security certifications & reviews.
- SysCloud for G Suite - integrated security & backup, covering DLP and compliance needs. Focused primarily on Education sector.
- Upsafe G Suite Backup - basic backup solution with simple interface, but facing reliability issues after it was acquired.
- Backupify - still the largest vendor on the market, users report recoverability and service downtime issues.
- Cloudberry Google Apps - Hybrid backup solution for Gmail and Drives. Cloud storage is not provided by the vendor and needs to be bought separately.
- Cludally G Suite - Backup vendor supporting 10+ cloud applications. Not focused on G Suite and support only basic feature set.
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 modern G Suite data backup platform.
We believe that Spanning is the best alternative (after afi.ai) among the major G Suite backup solutions on the market. It has end-user self-service portal & admin roles, and supports all popular apps (Contacts and Team Drives included). We were able to back up and recover our data in 19 out of 21 test cases. Spanning drawbacks include the absence of granular protection settings (backups can only be done once a day, impossible to select the time) and slow restore operations in some cases (in one case we started a restore and had to wait for >24 hours for the Drive file to be available. But their support is very helpful in resolving issues quickly.
Our second best choice is SysCloud - the platform works only with minor glitches (19/21 backup-restore success rate). Some important core backup features are missing in the product, including granular audit logs and ability to configure backup policies by Organizational Units or groups of Team Drives. In addition to G Suite cloud data backup, Syscloud is focused on providing DLP and monitoring capabilities for G Suite environments.
|$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 (granular audit logs, full OU support).
|$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 test cases, deteriorating quality after being acquired by Datto
- USABILITY: One of the least user friendly cloud products we've tested in a while.
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 individual users. It took the company nearly 5 years to gain traction and reach $3M in revenues by 2011, as its product appeared slightly 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.
Datto's main focus is hardware appliances with replication, backup and NAS capabilities. As part of Datto, Backupify for G Suite was de-prioritized and 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"?
When testing, we faced persistent "500" errors when attempting to sign in the application. When we were able to sign in, the user experience turned out to be exactly as described above. Backupify failed 9 of 21 our backup test cases. Nevertheless, we felt it is important to mention Backupify before any other alternatives, as Backupify still has the largest customer base. We will not provide further details as the platform is barely working, 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, 19/21 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 21 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 21 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 21 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 21 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 21 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 .
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