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Office 365 Backups – Do you need them?

Office 365 Backups – Do you need them?

Over the last year, more and more organizations have opted to migrate their data to the Cloud to make working remote easier for their workers.  One of the most popular migrations has been to Microsoft’s Office 365 stack.  This platform offers a one stop shop for organizations who are looking to collaborate and work smarter.  However, I continuously run into this idea that Cloud services, such as Office 365, include backups of customer data.  While some services provide a level of backup, the truth is most spell it out for you in their service agreements, that you should backup your data via a 3rd party mechanism.

Microsoft’s Office 365 is no different, and they spell this out in there their service agreement below:

Microsoft MSA

Like a traditional on-premise email or file server there are some built-in retention settings in the service.  For example, if you delete an email, OneDrive file, or SharePoint item you can use the Office 365 version of a recycle bin to retrieve it.  This location stores deleted items for set period of time.  In the scenario where you need to locate that item you deleted, chances are if you realized it is gone quickly enough, and you can locate it you are probably fine.  But let us talk about the more common scenario where you realize you need something that was deleted last month and the recycle bin has already been purged.  In this more real-world example, not even a call to Microsoft support will help.  Your data is now permanently deleted, and you have no way to retrieve it.  While Microsoft Office 365 may have started as an email service, it has grown into an entire ecosystem for personal files using OneDrive and company shared data in Teams / SharePoint sites.  Using a backup solution, you would be able to quickly locate and restore your lost data.  Another often overlooked item, is that many companies had a business requirement to have their data backed up before they moved to the Cloud.  This same business requirement should also apply once you have migrated that data into the Office 365 ecosystem.

In addition to the examples I described earlier, there is a much scarier situation. This past year several of my colleagues wrote about ransomware attacks that have crippled organizations of all sizes, from small businesses, entire hospital systems, and even municipalities.  Organizations that have adopted a backup solution that covers their Cloud data, are able to either roll back all their affected data, or in some cases selectively based on the damage caused by a ransomware attack.

Take it from someone who has had to help restore everything from email data, to complex SharePoint permissions for a company site.  Having a 3rd party backup solution for your Office 365 not only protects your organization but could also save money in the long run when compared to cost of dealing with situations where there is no back up of the data.

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