Getting your saas data

by admin on August 20, 2009

in Cloud Computing/SaaS,Humour

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.

In its Ts & Cs, Xero says:

  1. Data:

    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.

In LiquidAccounts T’s & C’s I could only find this statement:

Personal Data

  1. 11.1 Liquid Accounts will comply with its obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998 and any other applicable data protection legislation.
  2. 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.
  3. 11.3 Except as set above or as required by law, we will only use your personal information in accordance with our privacy policy, a copy of which can be viewed on the Website.

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.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Emily Coltman August 20, 2009 at 6:16 pm

And where an in-depth study of different kinds of accounting software would be very useful indeed :-)


Stuart Jones August 20, 2009 at 6:57 pm

Thanks Dennis for such a prompt reply. Xero's is very impressive.

Chris Yeh August 20, 2009 at 7:51 pm

Our approach at PBworks is to allow paying customers to take a full backup of all data at any time. It's their data, after all!

suluclac August 20, 2009 at 11:47 pm

"Xero expressly excludes liability for any loss of Data no matter how caused."


Obviously a company that is confident with its offering.

Data is the life blood of the modern business. They want me to give them my data, and pay them for looking after it and for yet they accept no reponsibility for it?

Adrian Pearson August 21, 2009 at 12:21 am

We have now setup around 50 clients on Xero, and growing. Only 1 client asked us the question "if I decide to change accountants, how do I get hold of my data?". Now, that either means that we provide such a great service that it never crosses our clients' minds that they might someday go to Bloggs & Co instead – or our clients don't worry about their accounting data in the same way they would about other assets. If that is the case, does the accounting firm have a moral and professional responsibility to make sure the data is in a safe place? A good question methinks and one likely to play out in future negligence cases.

Dennis Howlett August 21, 2009 at 12:40 am

@adrain – yet another excellent point which I will discuss in the context of all these broad issues in an upcoming post

Stuart Jones August 21, 2009 at 5:22 pm

@Dennis – I'm not certain that Adrian will appreciate your typo! LOL (with apologies to Adrian)

Dennis Howlett August 21, 2009 at 5:49 pm

ooops! – apologies to Adrian

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