4 Myths about Cloud Data Backups, Debunked by Geni Whitehouse

by Geni Whitehouse | Last updated on January 27, 2022

It’s time to debunk the myths about cloud backups…

As we move more and more clients to the cloud, we need to consider the full extent of the promise we are making to them. We need to be sure that we can offer them the highest level of assurance that their accounting data, supporting documents, and even our working papers will be protected, backed up, and accessible in the event there is a need for access. It’s time we stopped believing the myths.

#1 Data on the cloud is backed up by my cloud provider

This myth is partially true, depending on your service provider. (But did you read the fine print?) All backups are not alike. Many cloud providers have an all-inclusive backup of their entire system, or a specific server, or selected data. But do you know where they are storing those backups? I found out after a ransomware attack to one of my former cloud hosting providers that their backups were stored on the same servers as my data. So when the ransomware attack happened, everything would have been lost with no ability to restore any of that (in my case) client data. The provider noted that the contract specifically stated that we were responsible for making our own backups. Imagine my confusion and fear. Wasn’t that the point? We wanted them to handle all of that IT administration. Thankfully, it turned out that an offsite backup had been made and we were able to be restored within a couple of frightening days. But lesson learned and data moved.

#2 All backups are alike

Again, it’s all about the fine print. When it comes to online cloud accounting software, once again, we think the whole backup issue is a thing of the past, a practice that died with that XP server we got just rid of. But here’s the truth. Cloud backups are happening but they are system-wide at whatever time the software company chooses to make them. They can’t restore your data to a point in time that you specify. It’s an all or nothing proposition intended for disaster recovery purposes – at the platform level. Here’s what QuickBooks Online says about their backup policy:

Xero’s policy, discussed in online chats, is similar to other online cloud providers – it’s designed for platform security. It does not include a point in time back-up and restore option. Consider similar situations for online e-commerce sites like Shopify, project management applications like Trello and others. What happens if there is a data loss, or an entry error or lost attachments when you are relying on a periodic general backup? Ask your solution provider about their policy.

#3 I can’t make selective backups of my cloud data

You can if you have the right tools. I use Rewind because it allows you to make a point in time backup:

  • Before you import a years worth of Paypal transactions that are duplicate entries
  • Before you test the Shopify integration to your application
  • Before you import a years worth of adjusting journal entries
  • Or at month-end, when you finish performing all of your closing activities

You can also make a full backup and then selectively restore certain pieces of data (just the AP transactions, or the bank info, or the sales for a given day.)

#4 I can’t afford to add additional charges to my client’s monthly bills (or my client won’t pay for this)

Can you afford to lose your client due to a failure to protect their data in the event of a data loss, or import malfunction, or transaction errors, or any other unexpected glitch? You need to consider your promise to your clients to protect them and their data from risk, whether implied or specific. They think we have them covered, just as we think our cloud providers have us covered. By adding Rewind to your client’s accounts for the price of a latte each month, you will have true peace of mind that you are being a steward of your client’s data.

Your Clients are Counting On You

As service providers, our clients expect us to have thought through all of the implications of putting their business data on the cloud and to protect them accordingly. That means we need to offer them the option to have an extra, customized layer of backup protection for their critical data. The price for adding a service like Rewind to your current client solutions is nothing, especially when you consider the cost of compromised or inaccessible client data. As full service consultants, we can’t afford not to add backups to the list of services we offer our clients.

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Geni Whitehouse
Geni spends her time between working as a winery consultant at Brotemarkle, Davis & Co in the Napa Valley, and is an advocate for data security. She is a regular keynote presenter at CPA and Technology conferences around the country and has been named a Top 100 Influencer by Accounting Today, one of 25 Thought Leaders in Accounting, and one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Accounting by CPA Practice Advisor.