Navigating the world of backups in Smartsheet


Backups are arguably as trying as they are important. Here is a short guide to help simplify them for you, while also positioning SmartBackup for Smartsheet from AcuWorkflow.

What are Backups?

Traditionally the main reason for creating backups is to save important files for when system crashes or hard drive failures occur. With Smartsheet being in the cloud, the backup mindset turns much more to the service not being available or loosing parts of your worksheet set due to user error, or data being overwritten accidentally. Even worse situations can occur if you were to lose pieces of your business records embedded across multiple Smartsheet sheets that make up one of your major transitional projects, as an example.

There are various reasons for having backups. Think of the spare tire in the trunk of your car, or the extra clothing in your hand-luggage for if your baggage accidently gets waylaid while traveling. In these circumstances, a backup can literally save your “life”, but with data, a backup can save your business.

Smartsheet sheets are largely driven by people and events. People are not infallible, and events can be triggered by accident. People make mistakes, and they make them quite often. Worksheets are accidently updated and saved with incorrect info and important sheets are mistakenly overridden or portions deleted. However, there is no reason to fear these issues, as they can all be managed if you take frequent incremental snapshots of your Sheets.

Making sense of Smartsheet backups

Smartsheet allows you to create a backup of (a) your account or (b) selectively, some of your workspaces, folders, or sheets.

  • Backup Tool is a tool that you can use to create a complete back up your entire Smartsheet account. It is a command-line tool written in Java and requires technical expertise to configure and deploy.
  • To back up your sheets, folders, or workspaces go to your Home tab in Smartsheet, right click on the sheet, folder, or workspace and select Request Backup. From this menu you have the option to include attachments and to receive an email when the backup is complete. Note that in this case the backups consist of an Excel Workbook copy of each sheet. These Excel files do not maintain formatting, cell links, formulas, etc.

On initial appearance, it seems as if Smartsheet has you covered in terms of creating backups of your data. You can selectively backup part of your data or all your data albeit with some limitations.

However, it is only when you look a bit closer that you realize the potential exposure:

  • Backup destroys formatting – one of the key Smartsheet attractions is the ability to format sheets and elevating usability with the use of icons, symbols, conditional formatting, cell formatting, and sheet organization, including row indenting, and Gantt, Card, and Calendar views. However, most of these features are lost when backing up sheets using the standard Smartsheet options, which effectively convert the sheets into ordinary Excel files. Therefore, if you need to do a recovery, you may be able to restore your basic data, but the process may leave you with an “unusable application”.
  • No effective daily backups – assuming people and events drives ebbs and flows, it is vital to take aligned snapshot copies and have the ability to revert to previous copies and versions of sheet data. With standard Smartsheet options, this is not possible due to timing constraints, which are aggravated because there is no guarantee when the actual backup takes place. The security of recovery only arrives when the scheduled email arrives, and you download the zipped backup.
  • User driven – you as the user must decide what to backup. If you get it wrong, a vital piece may be missing in the event of failure. Even worse, you may only notice that something is missing when recovery is needed. Even if you get it right, you may be backing up the right stuff the wrong way, e.g. backing up the same sheet although it has not been changed at all.

Introducing SmartBackup

Standard Smartsheet backup options require you as the user, to select which sheets or workspaces need to be backed up. This could mean you may backup the wrong sheets or that you are backing up the same sheets even 'though they have not changed, and in doing so, creating copies of copies, yet they are all the same. Other than resource wastage, the real issue then is when you want to restore and you cannot because all the backup copies are the same.

This is where SmartBackup is different. It automatically creates a backup based on a working set based on when sheets were last modified. The benefit of this approach is that a rolling window of active sheets is created, providing you with an effective fallback solution in the event of recovery.

What sets SmartBackup further apart is that it’s default backup space is within your own Smartsheet account, referred to as the "Vault", which means all of your sheet formatting is preserved and recovery is super simple! All your need to do is copy the affected rows or cells back to the “live” sheet. All formatting, links, history, formulas, Forms, etc. are maintained.

Take SmartBackup for a spin

SmartBackup has a free Starter Edition that you can use to try it for yourself. All you need is your existing Smartsheet account.

Visit for more details.


Popular posts from this blog

SmartBackup User Guides

Major SmartBackup Update!