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Google Apps Recovery: Restore Lost Gmail Contacts

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GoogleAppsRecovery_RestoreLostGmailContacts

So, you just downloaded the newest, shiniest contacts management app to your smartphone, linked it to your Google Apps account to sync with your Gmail Contacts, and now you’re waiting for your mobile address book to fill with everyone you’ve ever known.

And now all your contacts are gone. From Google and your phone. Completely.

This happens more than you’d think, largely because too many apps make it too easy to set your empty smartphone address book to overwrite your up-to-date Google Contacts list, rather than the other way around.

Fortunately, Google Contacts has built-in versioning functionality so you can “roll back” your Gmail Contacts to an earlier state, restoring any lost contacts in mere seconds. Here’s how it works:

  1. Log into your Gmail account via the web
  2. Click on the Gmail in the top left
  3. When the dropdown appears, select Contacts
  4. In the top level navigation, select More
  5. When the dropdown appears, select Restore Contacts

You’ll have the option to roll back your entire Gmail Contacts list to any saved state — which is to say, any time you altered the data in your Google Contacts — within the last 30 days. In the case of a full overwrite that deleted all your Gmail Contacts, just roll back to the save point right before you installed the destructive smartphone app.

If, however, you didn’t notice the problem and more than 30 days have passed since your contacts (or, really, any single contact you now need) was deleted, Google can’t restore your contacts data. For that, you’ll need to have Gmail backup in place for your contacts data somewhere outside Google — somewhere like Backupify for Google Apps — so you can enjoy the convenience of one-click Contacts restore with no time limit. You can try Backupify’s Contacts backup and restore free for 15 days.

Check out all the posts in our Google Apps Recovery series:

Google Apps Recovery: Restore Events in Google Calendar from XML

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UPDATE! Delete an important meeting in Google Calendar? Now you can restore Google Calendar events quickly and easily. Check out the free tool powered by Backupify today.

The problem with Google Calendar is that it has no trash.

That is to say, unlike Gmail or Google Drive, there is no trash folder or trash label where deleted Google Calendar events reside until Google permanently deletes them, usually 30 days after the user deletes a Calendar event. In Gmail or Gdrive, you can restore data from the trash. You can’t restore “trashed” events in Google Calendar.

The closest thing Google Calendar has to a native restore functionality is a short-lived Event deleted, Undo option that appears at the top of Google Calendar after you delete an event.

Undo deleted Google calendar event

If you don’t click the Undo link within 15 or so seconds of deleting an event, or before refreshing the Calendar view, your chance to recover the Calendar event is lost.

Fortunately, there is a workaround to recover some of the information from a deleted Calendar event by grabbing data out of your Google Calendar XML feed. Even when you delete an event in Google Calendar, it stays in the public XML feed from your calendar for an indeterminate amount of time. Thus, you can manually copy information out of your Google Calendar XML feed and paste it into a new Calendar event, effectively “restoring” the deleted original Calendar entry.

Fair warning: This technique may require modifying some of the Administrator-level settings on your Google Apps domain. Tread carefully.

Step 1. – Locate your Private Google Calendar Address

Every Google Calendar has a private web address that you (or your friends and colleagues) can use to view your schedule. This address is the location of the XML feed that contains the Google lost Calendar event data we’re looking for. Here’s how to find it.

  1. Open your Google Calendar
  2. In the left column, locate My Calendars and hover the mouse over the calendar that contained the event(s) you want to restore (it’s probably the one with your name on it)
  3. Click on the boxed-triangle icon that appears to the right of the calendar listing, then select Calendar Settings from the menu that appears
  4. Locate the Private Address listing near the bottom, between Calendar Address (not what you want) and Delete Calendar (don’t click that; you’re in enough trouble).Note: If Private Address is not visible, your Google Apps Domain Administrator needs to enable Calendar sharing on your domain. Specifically, under External sharing options, the admin needs to enable Share all information, but outsiders cannot change calendar. When you’re done copying out the XML data from your Google Calendar feed, the admin can revert this setting.
  5. Click on the XML icon next to Private Address
  6. Copy the URL that appears in the pop-up and paste it into the address bar of a new tab in your Web browser

Step 2. – Locate your lost Calendar event in your Google Calendar XML feed

  1. Add the following string to the end of the URL: ?showhidden=true&showdeleted=true and then navigate to that web address. This will expose all the deleted events in your Google Calendar XML feed.
  2. Enter CTRL+F and, in the pop-up search box, enter the name, date or location of the deleted Calendar event. This will scroll the page to the point in the XML feed where your lost event data is stored.

Step 3. – Copy the XML data into a new Calendar event

  1. Open your Google Calendar in a separate browser tab from the XML feed
  2. Create a new Google Calendar event to replace the event that was deleted
  3. In the XML feed, locate the <title> tag for the title of the event. The tag will have a parameter on it like type=’html’ or type=’text’, which you can ignore. Copy the event title from the feed into the title of your new Google Calendar event.
  4. Now locate the <summary> tag, which will have the same type=’html’ or type=’text’ parameters you can ignore. Inside the tag, there will be entries for Who and Where, which denote the invited attendees and the location of the event, respectively. Copy the location info into your new Google Calendar event. As for the who, you’ll have to re-invite the attendees to your new event, but the Who list will tell you where to start.
  5. At the “top” of the contents of the <summary> tag will either be a When entry, or a Recurring Event entry. The When denotes a one-time event and you can simply copy the date and time into your new Google Calendar event.The Recurring Events denotes exactly what it sounds like, and will be followed by a First Start entry that tells you the data and time of the first event, and Duration, which tells you the length of the event in seconds (as in Duration: 3600 is equal to an hour-long event). Unfortunately, the XML doesn’t offer any data on the frequency of recurrence, so it’s impossible to tell whether this was a weekly, daily, monthly or annual event. You’ll have to guess as you recreate the event anew in Google Calendar.
  6. Finally, if there was a description in the original Google Calendar event, the XML feed will have a Description entry inside the <summary> tag, which you can copy to your new “restored” Calendar event.

Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? Especially compared to, say, one-click Google Calendar restore with Backupify.

If you want to avoid taking prolonged trips into the bowels of your Google Calendar XML feed, consider Google Calendar backup and restore with Backupify. You can try Backupify’s Google Calendar backup and restore free for 15 days.

Check out all the posts in our Google Apps Recovery series:

The Future of the Cloud: Will AWS Continue to Dominate?

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Will AWS Continue to Dominate the MarketAmazon Web Services has been the dominant player in the cloud computing market since it first launched in 2006.  The cloud itself is projected to grow immensely in the next decade, and a decent percentage of that growth is directed at AWS, with research firms forecasting AWS’s revenues at $10 billion by 2016 and $20 billion by 2020.

As TechCrunch notes in the above article, Amazon has a first mover advantage due to the high cost for customers to switch providers.  And according to Bernstein’s research, the majority of businesses they interviewed would not change IaaS providers even for a 20% discount, as switching would bring new risks and added costs in the re-development of tools on the new provider’s API.  So AWS seems to be in a great spot.  But lately, we have started to wonder what the future of the cloud will look like.

James Staten, in his cloud predictions for 2013, thinks that we will stop equating the cloud with AWS.  There are already other players making moves in the market, including Windows Azure, Google’s Compute Engine, Rackspace, Verizon, IBM, HP, etc.  These haven’t yet made much of a dent, but Google recently announced increased investment in its cloud technology and Microsoft slashed its prices showing there are real competitors willing to go head-to-head with Amazon.

A Neovise analyst describes two battles in the IaaS market:  one for basic services such as computing, networking, and storage, and the other for higher-level services such as databases, security, disaster recovery, and running business applications.   The former, he says, is where competitors are starting to grab market share while the latter is where AWS still entirely dominates.

It certainly will be interesting to see where the cloud computing market goes.  New technologies might deflate AWS’s advantages or perhaps the cloud’s exponential growth will prove too big even for Amazon to scale fast enough leaving room for more players.

What do you think?  Will Amazon maintain its leading position, or will companies like Google and Microsoft make a big enough impact to dominate?   Tell us your thoughts in the comments below….

 

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Introducing The Best Way To Restore Google Drive Files – The GDrive Deleted Items List

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One of the constant internal debates we have at Backupify is about how to make restoring data to Google Apps as fast and easy as possible. There are two primary ways to find a deleted item to restore: search, and browse. If you remember the name of the document, but not where it was located, then search is the most useful. If you remember where the document was located, but don’t remember the name, then browsing is the most useful.

The default in Backupify has always been search because our user behavior surveys show that people are more likely to remember some part of the document metadata, such as the name, than they are to remember where it was located. But today we are excited to announce a third way to find deleted data that is even better than searching or browsing – the Deleted Items list.

Deleted Items

Two Backupify-ers, Ben Povlich from engineering and Ryan Harnedy from sales, came up with this idea at one of our internal hackathons, and we thought it was such a useful feature that we decided to polish it up and push it to customers as quickly as possible. If you have an Enterprise account and you login to your Backupify account today, you will see deleted items on your Google Drive backups page, and soon it will be rolled out to all accounts, regardless of plan. So, how does it work?

Backupify monitors Google Drive for each domain user that you have set up, and when something is deleted from Gdrive, we add it to the Deleted Items list when we next back you up. When you login, the list you see is the most recently deleted items which, more than likely, contains the item you want to restore. You can restore it from the backup to Google Drive with a simple click right from the Deleted Items list. No more searching, no more browsing, we serve the deleted item straight to you with no fuss.

What is so interesting about this feature is that it provides a new, innovative way to find the data you are most likely to restore, without relying on searching or browsing. It saves you time; which is the one thing we all need more of.

We are adding new functionality to Backupify all the time, and this feature is a great example of how we are always thinking about how to make your life even easier. So login and try it out. Let us know what you think via email or in the comments section.

And if you came to this post via a search for restoring data back to Google Drive, you should know that 32% of all companies on SaaS have lost data in a SaaS application. Don’t be one of them. Backup your Google Drive today with Backupify.

Why Backupify Is Redesigning Our Google Apps Product Interface

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We’re revamping the Backupify for Google Apps product interface, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to pull back the curtain on how the design process works at Backupify. Other than designing our new T-shirt (see below), this is my first major project since I joined the team as design director. In the first post, I wanted to talk a little about the reasons for the redesign of Backupify for Google Apps.

Rob May in the new Backupify logo t-shirt

Rob May, our CEO, likes the new T-shirt, but how will he feel about the new UI?

Our current interface has been around since we launched Backupify for Google Apps in 2010, when Backupify was just a handful of engineers holed up in a windowless room, fueled by coffee, bourbon and fevered dreams of securing the world’s cloud data.

The original Backupify office, circa 2010

Backupify 2010 - no windows, no designers

Much has changed since then. Web technology has matured, and improvements such as HTML5 and CSS3, responsive grids, and beautiful fonts allow us to create much richer and more pleasurable user experiences. So, the first reason for a product interface refresh is that every product needs a makeover every now and then, just to keep up with current standards and user expectations.

Backupify, too, has changed. Our office now has windows! (And a women’s bathroom.) We still have great engineers, and have added UI and graphic designers, front-end developers and product managers, who all share the same passion for providing the best cloud-to-cloud backup.

Most importantly, the needs of our users have evolved. Did you know that the first version of Backupify for Google Apps didn’t allow for restoring data? Yes, your Gmail messages, Google Drive documents, Calendar events, Contact entries and Google Sites were secure, but if you wanted to get back a deleted item, you needed to download it from Backupify and manually re-upload it into Google Apps.

As we’ve added one-click restore and other essential features, we tweaked the interface to accommodate them. However, since the Backupify for Google Apps interface wasn’t originally designed for a lot of this functionality, many of our coolest and most useful features are relatively hidden within the current design. While this may not be a huge problem for our more savvy users, it is not a good experience for those less familiar with the product.

Most of the IT administrators we talked to wanted users to be able to retrieve their items without calling the help desk every time. They wanted the tool to be very easy to use. “I just want to get in and get out” is what we heard from many.

To accommodate these evolving demands, we needed to redesign our interface from scratch. In my next post I describe how we did that and answer the burning question: “Just how many cappuccinos does it take to design a dashboard?”