Spanning Backup Backs Up Gmail and Other Google Services

When you use Google services, you trust Google with your most sensitive information: Emails, contacts, calendars--the works. What could possibly go wrong As it turns out, quite a bit. Google is not infallible, and even if it were, users can make mistakes. Spanning Backup ($3 per month for regular Google accounts users) is a cloud backup service that keeps a copy of all of your Google data and lets you restore it selectively should important data ever go missing.

Spanning Backup is also available for GoogleGoogle Apps users, at a cost of $2.50 per user per month. I tested the service with my paid Google Apps account, and integration couldn't be easier: I simply granted Spanning Backup access to my domain, and that was it. I didn't even have to type in my Google Apps password, or any other password for that matter. Alles zu Google auf

The information Spanning Backup saves is extensive: Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, and Google Contacts, right down to contact images. All information is saved over the cloud, onto Spanning Backup's own servers. You don't get to download any of it to your own computer, and you can only restore it to the account from which it was backed up.

Speaking of restoration, the data restoration interface leaves a lot to be desired. To test Spanning Backup, I deleted a Google contact. When I tried to restore it, Spanning Backup presented me with a list of backup timestamps showing the dates of recent successful backups. Not ideal, but not too confusing: I clicked the latest successful backup, taken before I deleted the contact. I expected Spanning to show me contacts deleted or modified since that backup was made. Instead, it let me pick a contact group to restore--and it wasn't the group the contact I deleted was in. After hunting around the snapshot list for a snapshot that contained the group I needed, I ended up clicking the earliest snapshot thinking that snapshot surely has the contact I need.

Spanning Backup then proceeded to restore all of my contacts, even those that were not deleted, creating over 360 duplicate contacts. I realized this had happened when all my contacts started showing up twice on my AndroidAndroid phone, though at first I thought something must be wrong with the phone. It turns out this is not a bug, but a feature: Spanning Backup calls this "non-destructive restore," and it means Spanning Backup never deletes your existing contacts when it restores an old backup, even if duplicates are created. All contacts restored are put into a group showing they were restored, so you can extract the contacts you need, and then delete all other contacts in the group. This makes sense, but it also requires good familiarity with Gmail's groups interface and can be confusing otherwise. Alles zu Android auf

The same thing happened when I tried to restore a calendar event: Spanning created a new calendar with the event I restored. While I understand why this is necessary, it was confusing at the time. If Spanning Backup sent an automated email explaining what's going on when you restore something, that could help alleviate the confusion.

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