Microsoft Office 365 is an extremely popular cloud platform and many organisations use it for Exchange Email, Onedrive and Sharepoint.
The problem is many organisations don’t stop to ask themselves: “How is my data protected?” and take it for granted that backup and data protection are part of the package. Many are surprised to find out that Microsoft provides no clearly defined backup strategy for Office 365.
Microsoft Does Not Backup Your Data
While Microsoft is responsible for keeping the cloud infrastructure services available (which makes sense), you are accountable for protecting your data which is hosted by those services. This is commonly known as the Office 365 Shared Responsibility Model, which reminds us that maintaining service and data availability is a joint effort. The wording below from the current Microsoft Services Agreement page explains their position on data protection for their cloud services:
Service Availability: We strive to keep the Services up and running; however, all online services suffer occasional disruptions and outages, and Microsoft is not liable for any disruption or loss you may suffer as a result. In the event of an outage, you may not be able to retrieve Your Content or Data that you’ve stored. We recommend that you regularly backup Your Content and Data that you store on the Services or store using Third-Party Apps and Services.
No Point-in-Time Recovery for Exchange Online
Office 365 does not provide a way for Exchange Online customers to take backups.
This means if an employee were to intentionally delete information for example prior to leaving the business or they were to accidentally provides a malicious user with access to their account, ransomware can infect their email. Only a recent backup would be able to restore the content to safe state.
This is a major challenge for organisations. While Office 365 makes it possible to recover individual messages that have been deleted from a mailbox for a length of time, or restore an accidentally deleted mailbox back at the time of deletion, offering recovery via a backup to a given point in time is not possible.
Here is Microsoft’s official position:
Point in time restoration of mailbox items is out of scope for the Exchange Online service. However, Exchange Online offers great retention and recovery support for your organisation’s email infrastructure, and your mailbox data is available when you need it, no matter what happens.
Microsoft again notes that they provide service availability and always ensure that you can access your mailbox and the single copy of your current data, but they do not back up the data itself. This has some very grave implications, especially if ransomware encrypts a user’s Exchange Online mailbox.
Point-in-Time Recovery for OneDrive for Business and SharePoint is Limited to 30 Days
While not as troublesome to admins as having no point-in-time recovery for Exchange Online, this could still be an issue for many organisations. With OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online you are able to do point-in-time recoveries, but only within the last 30 days. If you need point-in-time restoration capabilities beyond 30 days, you’ll need a 3rd party backup application for Office 365. Many organisations store critical data inside of OneDrive and SharePoint, so point-in-time capabilities being limited to just 30 days is often a deal-breaker.
With a solution like Altaro Office 365 Backup, all of the administration is automated. Backups are automatically taken up to four times a day and stored in the cloud. All of the costs, including unlimited cloud storage, are included the license.
More Recovery Options to Minimise Downtime
Most of the data protection features in Office 365 do not provide the ability to recover that data outside of the original location. If that user account no longer exists or you want to send that data to a different mailbox, you are out of luck. A solution like Altaro Office 365 Backup provides these additional options and gives your data recovery plan a little extra flexibility by allowing you to restore the data to different locations.
Since backups are automatically taken more than once a day and retained indefinitely through your subscription, there will be many different recovery points to choose from. You can restore an entire mailbox or just search and restore an individual message using item-level recovery (ILR). If you want to restore files or a mailbox to a local computer, you can even download the files as a ZIP or compressed PST file.
3rd Party Backup Protects Your Business from a Catastrophic Failure of O365 Infrastructure
Although Microsoft’s cloud services are very reliable and we have not had any recent outages resulting in data loss there is always a certain level of risk. If there were to be an outage, you want to make sure you can recover your mailboxes and documents. By using a third-party backup provider for your O365 data, your data gets stored in an isolated cloud storage account, so it is extremely unlikely to be affected by other cloud failures.
You Need a Simple O365 Backup Solution
The backup and recovery features in O365 are scattered throughout many different tools and services. Retention policies are used to control how long data is stored after deletion. There are various tiers of hidden recycle bins that you can recover from.
It’s safe to say that the backup tools that come with Office 365 do not provide a complete solution to address your backup and recovery strategy. While they have some value, for a comprehensive and robust solution you’ll need to rely on a dedicated Office 365 backup solution.
We believe that Altaro Office 365 Backup is a comprehensive backup solution for your Office 365 email and documents. Give us a call and we can provide a quote for our fully managed backup service utilising Altaro products.