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What is Google Vault and Can I Use it for Data Backup?

As a Google Workspace administrator, keeping your data secure in the cloud has to be one of your top priorities. But how well do you know the Google systems and how your data is protected in the Google services you’re licensed for? In this blog post, we’ll walk through how Google Vault—one of Google’s key data security platforms—can help keep your business-critical data safe.

What is Google Vault?

Google Vault is a retention and eDiscovery tool for Google Workspace. It helps you manage your information governance by helping you retain, hold, search, and export your Google Workspace data such as Gmail messages, Drive files, and other data from Google services in your Google Workspace suite.

In essence, Google Vault can help you:

  • Search data: Look through your Google Workspace data to find specific content
  • Retain data: Keep data as long as you need by preserving it for a set time
  • Delete data: Remove data when it’s no longer needed by purging it from your Google systems

google vault

How Do You Use Google Vault and How Much Does It Cost?

Google Vault is usually already included in many Google Workspace editions so you won’t have to purchase additional Vault licenses for your organization unless you want to upgrade.

As we’ve mentioned, Vault has two main functionalities:

1. eDiscovery

Vault’s eDiscovery functionality lets you search, hold, and export your Google data. Admins can search and identify specific Google Workspace content via user accounts, organizational units, dates, keywords, previous messages, attachments, and supported files.

google vault

You can then preserve that data indefinitely through retention rules or export it for processing and analysis. The exported data will be available for 15 days before it’s deleted for security purposes.

2. Retention

In preserving data, setting retention rules and putting data on hold are two of the actions most organizations practice and what Google Vault offers, especially when dealing with sensitive data for compliance regulations.

To preserve data by retention rules, you can either set:

  • Default retention rules: Lets you set a rule for all your licensed users’ data for a particular service for a set time.
  • Custom retention rules: Keeps data for a set time with specific terms and conditions depending on the service.

While you can set as many custom rules as you want, you can only apply one default retention rule for each of your Google services. Furthermore, default rules can’t be applied to any specific accounts or time periods.

Holds, on the other hand, preserve data by keeping it indefinitely until the hold is deleted, a user’s Vault license has expired, or a user account is deleted.

Let’s look at how Google further differentiates the two:

It’s important to note that you have to quickly set up your retention rules if you want to leverage Google Vault’s retention capabilities. Unless you do, Vault won’t retain your data and users can delete it.

So, can you use Vault as a backup tool?

While you can use Vault to retain and hold data indefinitely, even Google acknowledges that Google Vault is not a data backup nor an archive tool.

Not only are Google’s export capabilities available for a limited number of accounts and works for one Google service at a time, but Vault is also not meant for large-scale or high-volume data backups. Moreover, it doesn’t allow users to have many parallel exports or schedule automatic exports.

google vault

Vault also can’t create differential backups and can’t support all Google services like Calendar, Contacts, Keep, and Currents. More importantly, it’s not easy to restore data from Vault export files as it does not have any automated recovery tools.

Why do you need to back up your Google Workspace data?

Backing up your data is considered one of the most crucial ways to ensure your readiness against cloud data loss. Unfortunately, Google Vault’s retention and eDiscovery functionalities only go partway in having an effective data protection strategy.

Considering the various data loss possibilities in Google systems, having a backup tool for your Google Workspace will be critical.

Google Account and Groups Deletion

An employee left and you want to delete their account? Careful—you may delete data you still need. Once you delete a user, all the data associated with the user’s account will be removed from Google systems.

Similarly, all messages associated with groups will also be deleted once a group is deleted, even when said messages are subject to a hold or a retention rule.

Once deleted, data will no longer be searchable or exportable from Vault, any retention rules or holds won’t apply, and data can be expunged right away. While expunged data is irrecoverable, other data may still be accessed 20 days after deletion, but beyond that no native restore capabilities will help you recover your lost data.

User Deletions of Files and Emails

If a user deletes a document from their Google Drive, that document will be retained in the Trash folder for 30 days. After that period, the file will be purged and users won’t be able to recover the data.

The same happens when you delete an email. A 30-day window is provided for users to restore the deleted email, and another 25 days is given to Google Workspace administrators to recover it. Beyond that, the email will be permanently deleted from all your Google systems.

Vault’s Limits

As we’ve mentioned, Vault’s holds and retention rules only work with certain Google Workspace services. Other data from unsupported services would have no effect, and thus can be purged or deleted by your users.

But even data that can be put on hold needs to be carefully considered. Once a hold is deleted and no other hold covers it, the data will be subject to retention rules. Once the retention rules expire, deleted data will then be subject to standard deletion processes which purge data after a certain period of time.

Certain supported services also have limits when it comes to what you can search and index, which is crucial for eDiscovery processes.

Lastly, after 30 days of nonpayment, Vault licenses will be terminated which will stop the enforcement of your retention rules and all affected data will be lost with no recovery options.

How AvePoint Can Help

As a SaaS backup leader, AvePoint recognizes the need for a comprehensive backup solution with granular capabilities that can help administrators and users alike to have more control over their data.

Cloud Backup for Google Workspace has automatic backups up to four times per day, so data protection and retention requirements are always met.

Its protection covers your Gmail, contacts, calendars, drives, and other Google services data and provides the capability to restore, access, and search for data granularly or in bulk with anytime access.

google vault

Various recovery options and user-friendly usability functionalities are available for fast recovery from errors, attacks, and failures. Flexible storage options are also offered with complete assurance that you have full control over your data.

If you want to learn more about how Cloud Backup for Workspace can help you achieve better Google cloud data protection, be sure to request a demo or start your free trial.


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