Office 365 (O365) Backup: Don’t Assume Microsoft Has It

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O365 Cloud backup

Organizations are flocking to Microsoft Office 365 (“O365”) for the various applications and services the platform offers, such as OneDrive and SharePoint. What many people incorrectly assume is that Microsoft is providing long-term backup of their data. If you’re using O365 or considering migrating to it, how do you know what Microsoft is actually doing with your data? And, how do organizations ensure their data is ultimately protected? Assuming Microsoft has sufficient Office 365 (O365) backup can be a costly mistake.

How is data stored in O365?

To address the first question, we need to understand exactly what type of redundancy Microsoft is providing as part of Office 365. Data in O365 is stored on geo-redundant servers that provide high availability should an interruption in service occur. This basically means that if one cloud server crashes, another cloud server will pick right up without missing a beat. In theory, you never have a service interruption. Based on this, it sounds like data would never be lost, right? Unfortunately, that is not correct; even with Microsoft’s built-in high availability, data can still be lost.

How could I lose my O365 data?

To understand why you should consider using third-party backup and archiving solutions alongside O365 to help protect your critical data, you need to first know what can go wrong when you don’t. Let’s look at a few examples of how O365 data loss could happen.

Accidental Deletion

Let’s say an employee accidentally deletes a folder from SharePoint. That folder contained critical data used only once or twice a year. Most people assume this wouldn’t be a problem, since data can be restored from a recycle bin for 93 days after the deletion occurs. But what happens if no one notices the deletion, especially with rarely used folders? Well, after day 93, your data can no longer be restored. Without a backup, that data is gone forever.

The Limitations of OneDrive Retention

Now let’s talk about OneDrive. When you are using a work or school account, items in your OneDrive recycle bin are automatically deleted after 93 days. If you’re logging into OneDrive with a Microsoft account (a personal account you have outside of work and/or school), you only have 30 days before the data is automatically deleted. Once your recycle bin is full, your oldest files will start to be deleted after just three days. This can be a real issue for users, with OneDrive quickly becoming the default place to store documents rather than the My Documents folder on a PC or a network fileshare.

A Short Window for Restoring from O365 Email

With O365 email, users have only 14 days to retrieve an item, and administrators only have 30 days to restore a mailbox. These are relatively short windows to ensure you have the data retention needed for your organization. Microsoft does offer Exchange Online Archiving that allows users to keep emails in an online archive. The archive is hosted in globally distributed data centers, with continuous data backup. The solution is an add-on service for email, but does nothing for other Office 365 applications, like SharePoint and OneDrive. In addition, it places the control in the user’s hands to determine what should be saved or deleted instead of the organization. For many businesses, this and other drawbacks limit the usefulness of Exchange Online Archiving.

Data loss can also occur for many other reasons, such as accidentally deleting an Office 365 group, which also deletes associated Group objects, which may include SharePoint site collections, Planner, OneNote notebooks, shared calendars, emails and Microsoft Team sites. Finally, what if Microsoft accidentally deletes your tenant? Yes, that has actually happened. These are just a few of the reasons why having a backup is critical for business continuity.

How do I ensure my O365 data is protected?

Your O365 data is critical. That’s why ADNET recommends third-party backup and archiving solutions that can back up your data for long-term storage and make it easy to restore deleted items quickly. A good backup solution can make all the difference in keeping your business up and running.

I advise all our clients that the investment into a third-party backup solution is an essential component of a holistic IT strategy. Having a third-party backup tool significantly helps reduce the potential for critical data loss and adds another layer of protection for your organization.

To learn more about Office 365 (O365) backup solutions and the tools that ADNET uses, reach out to us. We’d be happy to help guide you to the right solution for your business.

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