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Slack backup options include commercial, open source tools

Slack does not automatically back up files that organizations send via the platform, but many use it to exchange crucial data. Here are three different ways to back up Slack data.

Data backups have been a staple of IT operations for generations, but protecting an organization's data is more complex than ever before. The sheer number of places where data resides makes efficient backup a challenge.

Unfortunately, SaaS applications such as Slack sometimes slip between the cracks and organizations do not include them in a backup plan. This may be because the organization doesn't know how to back them up, doesn't realize it is responsible to protect the application's data or simply overlooks the applications.

Slack channels can contain a wealth of data, including critical files and internal communications, so organizations must ensure that they back up this data. This is especially true for businesses in regulated industries -- such as medical, legal and finance -- that may be legally required to retain certain types of data.

Slack data backup can be tricky because most backup applications do not natively support the platform. There are, however, three options for Slack backup.

Backup tools for Slack

Recent commercial Slack backup tools have come to market. These can be especially useful if an organization cancels its Slack subscription or loses access to Slack.

Backupery for Slack is probably the best-known Slack backup tool. It enables users to export and download unstructured data that is sent over Slack, including PDFs, images, audio files and video files. Backupery converts exports from Slack to an HTML file, and admins can either schedule exports or perform them manually.

Skyvia also offers a service that backs up and restores Slack data.

Open source tools

Although commercial backup tools are often the best option to back up Slack data, a second option is to use an open source product.

One such product is Slackhog, which can back up Slack channels, groups, instant messages and more. Another option is to use the Python-based slack-backup command-line tool to back up Slack data. These are just examples of some of the open source tools, but there are additional tools on GitHub or on similar sites.

Slack's native export capabilities

The native export capabilities of Slack are a viable third option, but there are some limitations.

Exporting data is a manual process. A backup operator will need to either manually initiate the export process each time a backup needs to be made, or they will need to write a script to automate the process. Organizations that have a Business Plus plan through Slack can natively schedule recurring reports.

SaaS applications such as Slack sometimes slip between the cracks and organizations do not include them in a backup plan.

The second major limitation to this process is that Slack does not enable files to be exported. The process will export links to files, but not the files themselves. Exporting data natively through Slack probably will not be the best option for organizations that must ensure the data is secure. Incidentally, commercial and open source backup methods for Slack may also have limitations, so it is important to check what types of data a particular tool can protect before choosing one.

Exportable data depends on the subscription plan, but all Slack plans enable users to export messages and links to files in an organization's public channels.

Users are only able to export direct messages and data from private channels if subscribed to a Plus or Enterprise Grid subscription. Additionally, Enterprise Grid subscriptions enable users to export the data from every conversation that user has been a part of.

The actual export process works differently depending on the subscription plan, but basic steps include the following:

  • Click on the workplace name.
  • Choose the Settings and Administration option.
  • Click on Workspace Settings.
  • From there, click on the Import/Export Data option.
  • Choose the Export tab.
  • Specify the export date range, then click the Start Export button and follow the remaining prompts. This will vary based on the subscription plan.

When the export process completes, users can download this data as a zip file.

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