As organizations adopt IT infrastructures to address business changes, Office 365 has become one of the most successful productivity and cloud collaboration tools. That means it is the central repository for email, documents, appointments, chats, project plans, and more.
But what if you lose that data? Even a tiny part of it?
The truth is, there is a debate going on about whether or not you should back up your SaaS data.
There are people that advocate not backing up data by stating that multiple synchronous data files are stored in the cloud for high availability. That’s good enough.
Proponents of separate backups, who say replication is available and are not a real backup, claim that is not good enough.
Microsoft’s native Office 365 capabilities for data protection include:
- Version history for each file
- Deleted items retention to protect against accidental or malicious deletions (Recycle Bin)
- Litigation hold or retention policies to help prevent unwanted data destruction
These are good features, but the built-in capabilities are not enough for organizations that expect a backup and toolkit to restore the company.
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Office 365 native data protection
Many IT leaders work to have a secure backup and recovery solution before offering a service to their user community. Given the built-in restrictions on returning to Office 365, this prudent approach is reasonable.
Here are some of the known challenges that come with relying on the natural protection of Office 365 data:
Deleted items recovery
Deleted files are stored for some time in the Recycle Bin and folders. However, a lousy deletion (accidental or malicious) may go unnoticed despite the prescribed expiration date.
If items run out of the trash and cleaning folders, there is no backup.
Litigation hold or retention policies
Items marked for litigation or retention policy make hidden copies, but the recovery process is not easy or convenient for the user after deleting the original file.
The policies for recovery, litigation, and retention of deleted items should not have been used instead of a separate, total coverage backup solution.
Many organizations want to use these features for their intended purpose. However, when they are hijacked to deal with data protection, it nullifies the usefulness of doing what they were developed to do.
There are three essential features you need in an Office 365 backup solution
Not all backup solutions are created equal, so it is vital to identify what you need before starting a conversation.
At the very least, you will want to make full coverage backups with flexible recovery options and the level of performance and scalability that grows with your organization.
In addition, other advanced features that enhance your ability to protect, restore, and even manage your organization’s Office 365 data should be considered.
1. Full coverage
When a backup solution only protects mailboxes, but your organization relies heavily on Internal Communication Teams, that solution will not meet your needs. Many offers only protect mailboxes, and some have expanded to cover OneDrive for business.
The complete coverage backup solution should be able to target specific mailboxes or collections of single policy pages. Alternatively, it should be able to cover all mailboxes or collections of OneDrive business-standard pages.
When you cover all targets with a standard policy, the solution should automatically enroll new users when added to your organization, so new mailboxes and OneDrive Business are included in the protection range.
If you’re looking for a complete Office 365 backup solution, you want something that can handle all:
- Active and archive mailboxes
- Public folder mailboxes
- Shared mailboxes
OneDrive for Business site collections
SharePoint site collections
- All content types
- Site hierarchies
Teams (and Groups) site collections
- Document libraries
Unified audit log
2. Flexible recovery
When the Office 365 backup solution gives you flexibility in recovery options, you will quickly respond to unforeseen or unconventional recovery requests. It can be imperative when managing data through changing roles, staff turnover, and other organizational fluctuations.
Ensuring that you have flexible recovery options in your backup solution will give you the peace of mind to provide effective and efficient recovery support for your organization.
Here are some examples of what you can do with flexible recovery options:
- Restore specific items, folders, mailboxes, or multi-level recovery pages – recover your data no matter the data loss scenario.
- Restore multiple mailboxes in a single operation – resolve significant data losses that affect multiple users (malware, including ransomware, viruses, etc.)
- Recover data to a preferred location, including recovery/migration between host (and on-premises Exchange and SharePoint) – flexibility for situations where users who need data have changed or do not have access to the original location of data, such as migration M&A tenant-to-tenant or as part of a cloud exit plan.
- Perform recoveries in time – reset the data clock to the point you need.
- Apply recovery filters – restore the entire mailbox, except contacts, or restore the entire database on OneDrive websites within the due date.
- You may not need to recover – access Office 365 accounts when employees leave or in the event of audits without maintaining an active license.
3. Performance & scalability
You are already managing an increasing amount of data.
The cloud makes this more manageable and more cost-effective as long as it can fit your organization, as it grows with the level of performance and scalability you need to manage your data today, tomorrow, and for years to come.
When it comes to choosing performance and scalability, your Office 365 backup solution should be able to:
- Scale to petabytes of data and billions of objects,
- Capture at rates of multiple terabytes per hour, and
- Augmentation incremental with continuous data protection
Shifting from on-premises storage to the cloud is an investment that should be sustainable and usable.
Therefore, the chosen storage solution should be able to handle your needs as they grow.
Finding a backup solution for Office 365 that gives you full coverage, flexible recovery, and a high level of performance and scalability will provide your organization a robust and secure posture.
The knowledge that is possible and the benefits to your organization can make all the difference in evaluating any solution that allows you to protect and restore Office 365 data.