This is part 2 of our guide for choosing a cloud-to-cloud backup provider. You can read part one of the blog post here.

What is your RTO?

RTO stands for Restore Time Objective, which is buzzword-ese for “how fast do you want your data back?” A cloud-to-cloud backup and restore service isn’t much use if the process of restoring data takes longer than manually recreating it. While it’s unlikely that even the slowest service will restore all your data slower than you can rebuild it, it’s very likely that the service may take hours to restore even a single document or email. If your cloud-to-cloud backup can’t meet that threshold, look elsewhere. if your backup can’t perform single-item restores, the same response should apply.

What is the API Limit?

Cloud-to-cloud backup systems duplicate your data by connecting with the API of your SaaS application. API access has some processing overhead and, for SaaS apps like Salesforce, you’re explicitly limited to only a certain number of API transactions per day. If you’re not careful, your backup system could eat up all the API calls you were planning to use for a marketing tool or analytics plugin.

Ask your backup solution provider how they throttle bandwidth access and, if you’re backing up an app like Salesforce that meters your API calls, make sure your Salesforce backup can limit API calls, too.

Do You Keep My Data Forever? (And Could You Not?)

Data retention periods are a big deal. One of the most common scenarios of SaaS data loss is a user intentionally deleting data they assumed was no longer necessary, only to discover months or even years later they needed the information. A cloud-to-cloud backup can only solve this problem if it maintains data for months or years. Your backup solution should be able to configure a custom retention period, so that data of a certain age is no longer backed up.

Flexible Pricing Options

A good backup solution can price itself a number of ways. Per-user or per-seat pricing is simple, easy, and can grow with your organization. Storage-based pricing is a bit more complicated, as it is your responsibility to know exactly how much storage you need now—and for the life of the service contract. Storage based pricing also means that the few power users of data you have—the ones that account for most of your backups—have all the backup space they need, while the average user isn’t given far more storage space than is necessary.

Calculate Your ROI

The ROI of a backup solution is both easy and difficult to calculate. There’s no real way to put a price tag on the cost of *not* having a vital client presentation during an appointment, or a key email from your lawyer during a legal dispute. What you can calculate is the cost of recreating the data you lost, which is the compensation rate you pay an employee multiplied by the amount of time the employee spent generating the data.

The average Google Apps backup user restores 3.4 items per year they spent a total of 5.3 hours creating. That’s 5.3 hours of productivity lost per year. So long as the cost of backing up a Google Apps user is less than what you’d pay an employee for 5.3 hours of work, the backup is worth the investment.

What other best practices have you followed when purchasing a cloud backup solution? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.