Stuart Jones asks a very good question in comments to my saas protection post:
…if I am going to recommend a particular product to a client what should the client do (or more likely I do!) to safeguard their data.
No one wants to think that a software provider will disappear but it happens. in the on-premise world, there’s no real problem other than the inconvenience of moving to another product or service. But what about the on-demand/saas world?
When reviewing a service you should always be able to easily find out what happens to your data, how it is stored and backed up and what arrangements can be made for you to retrieve your data. I checked out a small number of providers from their website: FreeAgent Central says on it FAQ page:
All information which passes between our servers and your computer is encrypted using a technology called Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), the same technology that banks use to protect data.
Our servers are looked after by Rackspace, the UK’s most fanatical hosting company. They have very tightly-controlled physical security and highly resilient networking and power facilities. We don’t think there’s a safer place in the UK for us to keep our servers.
We look after your business data ourselves. We back up all our data every 15 minutes, and it is then encrypted and transferred off-site. It is therefore exceptionally unlikely that your data will be lost.
Of course, you own your data. You can export all of your FreeAgent data at any time in Comma Separated Variable (CSV) format, and analyse it or back it up yourself, as you see fit.
Title to, and all Intellectual Property Rights in, the Data remain your property. However, your access to the Data is contingent on full payment of the Xero Access Fee. You must maintain copies of all Data inputted into the Software. Xero adheres to its best practice policies and procedures to prevent data loss, including a daily system data back-up regime, but does not make any guarantees that there will be no loss of Data. Xero expressly excludes liability for any loss of Data no matter how caused.
This is enhanced through a comprehensive help page that details how each element of your accounts can be exported.
- 11.1 Liquid Accounts will comply with its obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998 and any other applicable data protection legislation.
- 11.2 By registering for the Service you consent to Liquid Accounts using and/or disclosing your personal information but only to the extent necessary to operate the Service.
It wasn’t entirely clear what you’d do so I called up Liquid. According to the support person with whom I spoke, you can cut ‘n’ paste customer and supplier details along with the ledger direct into Excel. However, in order to do this, you must have the appropriate access rights.
As you can see there are different approaches by different providers, some of which I would adjudge as better than others but the real test comes when you try to test the service. That’s where a free trial can be mightily helpful.