Backing Up Your Google Apps Data

I find it endlessly entertaining that people say things like “I don’t need to back up my data anymore because it’s in the cloud.” These people have never experienced a cloud failure, accidentally deleted a specific contact record, or authenticated an app that messed up their account. They will. And it will be painful.

I became a believer in backing up my data when I was 17 years old and had my first data calamity. I wrote about the story on my post What Should You Do When Your Web Service Blows Up. I’ve been involved in a few other data tragedies over the past 28 years which always reinforce (sometimes dramatically) the importance of backups.

We recently invested in a company called Spanning Cloud Apps. If you are a Google Apps user, this is a must use application. Go take a look at Spanning Backup for Google Apps – your first three seats are free. It currently does automatic backup of your Google contacts, calendars, and docs at an item level allowing you to selectively restore any data that accidentally gets deleted or lost. I’ve been using it for a while (well before we invested) and it works great.

I’ve known the founder and CEO, Charlie Wood, for six years or so. Charlie was an early exec at NewsGator but left to pursue his own startup. I came close to funding another company of his in the 2005 time frame but that never came together. I’m delighted to be in business with him again.

Don’t be a knucklehead. Back up your data.

  • Rich

    “…contact record…”

    You’re not still using tables/columns aka records/fields for data storage are you?

    • Eh – that’s how my brain works after years of relational databases.

  • Thanks for publishing this, using it now!

  • This service doesn’t seem to mention how much space you are given, what if my Google Docs accounts hold 10’s of Gigs of data?

    • Charlie Wood


      Our standard plan includes a 2GB storage quota, but we’re not yet enforcing that limit. We have users with hundreds of gigs of data backed up. Once we start enforcing quotas, people over or near their quotas will be given the option of (a) setting Spanning Backup to delete oldest backups to make room for newer ones, or (b) upgrading to a higher storage tier for a nominal charge.

      Please let me know if you have any other questions or run into any problems. You can reach me directly at


  • Thanks for the heads up on this as I have several clients using Google Apps Premier and am always looking for ways to keep multiple backups in different locations in a cost efficient, secure, and easy to access manner.

    What if you experience cloud failure at a time when you need to access a backup?  It would make sense to consider a local backup in addition to the cloud by way of an external hard drive or NAS device  such as one made by Synology (my personal favorite).  A little redundancy never hurt!

    Since you are an investor please notify Spanning’s team that the URL should be updated on the vendor listing within the Google Apps Marketplace:

    It currently points to (which does not load) when I believe it should be

    • Charlie Wood


      Thanks for the heads-up on the bad link. Fixed. And you’re right that redundant backups can’t hurt, but you should really make at least one, and if it’s going to be only one, our use of Amazon’s cloud is ultimately a lot more reliable than any local storage you’re likely to manage.


  • @Charlie, what kind of backup policy do you have on Amazon?

    • Charlie Wood

      Not exactly sure what you’re asking, but we store historical snapshots of your data as long as your account is active and under quota. Once we start enforcing quotas, you’ll be given the option to either set Spanning Backup to delete your oldest backups to make room for your newest ones, or to upgrade to a higher quota for a nominal charge. 

      Does that answer your question? If not, please email me directly at