Today’s post is the final one of a five-part series on How to Archive Google Apps Accounts. To catch up, you can read the first post here

If you’ve been following along with this blog series, so far, I’ve presented three of the four options for archiving a Google Apps account. Today, I will present the fourth (and final) method: Backup & Restore.

Option 4 - Backup and Restore

A full-featured Google Apps backup and restore solution like Backupify for Google Apps can create and maintain regular, high-fidelity copies of all Google Apps data from any single account or an entire domain. These copies can be quickly and easily reloaded into an account for immediate use.

Cost Grade: B

The good stuff isn’t free, and tools like Backupify have recurring costs not just to continually create and update Google Apps backups, but also to maintain those backups even after the original user account is deprovisioned. These costs are generally reasonable, and always less than the cost of maintaining the original account, especially if you consider the cost of time, but there is a recurring outlay for the entire lifespan of the maintained data.

Complexity Grade: A

The entire purpose of tools like Backupify is to make the creation of archived backup simple, easy, and predictably repeatable. Just install this solution from the Google Apps marketplace, make a few quick configuration choices, and the app does the rest. These archives are maintained even if you suspend or delete a Google Apps account, and you can fire off an on-demand backup of any account before your purge it to ensure the backup has all the latest data.

Compliance Grade: A

A backup tool is different from a compliance archive, but the good ones share similar features. An enterprise-grade Google Apps backup and recovery solution like Backupify maintains a revision history within its backups, which can aid in compliance audits. More importantly, Backupify is searchable and browsable, so specific data can be located with speed and ease. Above all, Backupify supports specific retention periods for your data, so any information you are obligated to delete is automatically purged without fear of oversight or human error.

Continuity Grade: A

Browsable archives are commonplace, searchable archives are superior, and Google Apps backup and recovery solutions like Backupify have both. That makes it easy to find what you’re looking for, should you need it after a user has been purged from your domain. Moreover, these solutions are designed for speed and fidelity of recovery, so you can restore the purged user data back to your Google Apps domain with nearly all of its metadata— especially sharing settings—intact. Short of never deleting a user account, there’s no better way to keep purged user data on hand and ready for use.

Composite Grade: A

Backup and recovery solutions like Backupify are designed specifically to maintain useful, searchable, easily recovered copies of Google Apps user data that sticks around even if the original information has been corrupted or purged. It’s what they do, and they work even if your domain administrator has intentionally and legitimately purged a departed user’s account from your Google Apps domain. No solution is perfect, and no system can preserve all the data and metadata exactly as it existed in the original account, but high-end solutions like Backupify are the next best thing to never having deleted the original user data, but with far more security and compliance safeguards that the risky do-nothing tack.

Every organization has different needs when it comes to archiving user data. Some operate in highly regulated industries that are sensitive to compliance demands, others suffer from high employee turnover, which makes them sensitive to the costs of maintaining an ever-growing collection of purged user data. Some companies have a team of highly experienced Google Apps administrators that can take on complex tasks, while others are one-man It operations looking to keep archiving as simple as possible. It is only by weighing the respective importance of the Four Cs—Cost, Complexity, Compliance and Continuity—that you can choose the right Google Apps archiving solution for your specific needs.