Microsoft Office 365 backup best practices: Why a third-party backup could save your business

Backups are critical for any business. They protect your data and ensure your business can resume operations quickly if hit with a disaster or cyberattack. Without a backup in these scenarios, your business could suffer serious financial damage or be forced to shut down permanently.

If you use Microsoft 365, you may wonder how to back up your data on the platform. What are Microsoft 365 backup best practices? How do you secure your files? To answer these questions, you first need to understand Microsoft’s relationship with your data.

Does Microsoft 365 back up your data?

If you’re wondering about the Microsoft Office 365 backup and recovery policy or asking yourself, “How do I backup Microsoft 365?” then you may be in for a surprise. It’s a common misconception that Microsoft 365 backs up your data. The truth is, it doesn’t. There is no such thing as Microsoft 365 disaster recovery. And Microsoft never claims there is. In fact, their services agreement even recommends you use a third-party service to back up your data:

[6] b. 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.

In other words, having a third-party solution is an Microsoft 365 backup best practice. As for security, Microsoft takes a shared responsibility position toward security. Their job is to ensure Microsoft 365 is operational and that your data is accessible. Your job is to protect it. For this reason and the six points below, a third-party backup may just save your business.

6 reasons why a third-party backup protects your business

Now that you know Microsoft doesn't back up your data, here’s why a third-party backup is integral to the health of your business.

1. You’re protected regardless of what happens with Microsoft 365

A disruption to Microsoft 365’s service is a question of “when” not “if.” As you read earlier, Microsoft’s services agreement says “all online services suffer occasional disruptions and outages.” Sometimes those disruptions are huge, like the September 2020 massive global outage that made headlines around the world and had some users unable to use their account for up to five hours. The point is, when Microsoft 365 is disrupted, will you be prepared? What will you do if you need to access critical data? With a third-party backup, you won’t have to worry about outages because you are following Microsoft 365 backup best practices and have your data stored safely outside Microsoft’s ecosystem.

2. You’re in control of your business — not users

In Microsoft 365, users control the recycle bin. This means they have the power to delete critical files. If that employee leaves, what happens if they purge everything? Files your business relies on could be permanently deleted, which could cause not only headaches, but downtime and financial loss.

3. Backups can give you access to multiple versions of critical files

With Microsoft 365, version histories are connected to only the main file. This means if that file is deleted, all version histories will disappear — there’s no going back to retrieve an earlier version. This is of particular concern for Microsoft SharePoint and OneDrive users who produce multiple drafts of a file and want to follow Microsoft 365 backup best practices. With a third-party backup, however, you can have multiple recovery points to retrieve different file versions.

4. You’re not reliant on retention times to save your data

Microsoft 365 does retain files for a limited number of days. Email is 30 days and SharePoint is 90. But, remember, this isn’t a backup. Backups don’t have expiration dates. SharePoint and OneDrive sites are permanently gone after three months, and employee user accounts and files put in recycle bins are deleted after one month. Retrieving files after longer periods is possible, but the process for doing so isn’t well documented and could be costly.

5. You control your recovery time objective

Microsoft 365’s tools haven’t been developed for backup and restoration purposes. Relying on them could lead to slower than expected recovery times and disappointed customers. With a third-party backup, however, you’re in control of your destiny and are following Microsoft 365 backup best practices. You can set recovery times and will have a good chance of achieving them when disaster strikes.

6. Microsoft 365 can’t protect you from ransomware

While a third-party backup won’t prevent ransomware, it will allow you to quickly restore your systems in the event of an attack. Microsoft 365 can’t do this as there’s no option to bulk restore all your files. SharePoint limits you to restoring per file. Recovering your systems this way would be a massive undertaking, as you’d have to restore each file individually.

How to evaluate a third-party backup solution

At this point, you know that having a third-party solution is smart and aligned with Microsoft 365 backup best practices. But how do you move forward? How do you know what’s the right backup solution for your business? Here are four questions to ask yourself to help you choose:

  1. Is it easy to use? It goes without saying that to get value from your backup solution, users must know how to use it. What’s more, the solution needs to be intuitive and simple enough that user error doesn’t negatively impact your backups’ effectiveness. This is why we recommend an easily maintained and configured backup solution as part of your Microsoft 365 backup best practices.
  2. Does it backup everything? The ability to protect all your data — including your Microsoft users, sites, groups, and more — is an important feature to look for in a backup solution. The key is to have one backup solution, not multiple, to back up everything. This will save you time, money, and frustration.
  3. Can you restore one file alone? While it’s important to ensure the third-party solution can back up all your Microsoft 365 data, it should also be flexible enough to restore a single file. Let’s face it, sometimes one critically important file is deleted. If that happens, having the option to quickly recover that file, instead of your entire system, can be a huge time saver.
  4. Can data be restored quickly and easily? Every minute you take to restore your data is a minute of downtime that costs you money. The best backup solutions give you plenty of options, like the ability to recover files remotely and easy-to-use web consoles to manage backups.

Find your third-party backup solution today

Realizing your Microsoft 365 data isn’t secure can be startling. You may feel a sudden panic, as if you must act fast to protect your data and business. Remember, though, that Microsoft 365 is a reliable service and outages and disruptions are rare. In other words, you likely have time.

So take a deep breath and start exploring your third-party backup options as you align with Microsoft 365 backup best practices. If you want a head start, consider our Backup and Disaster Recovery solution. It will cover all your bases in terms of ease of use, speed, and flexibility. If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call at 1-800-261-6442. We look forward to serving you.

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MBM Technology Solutions
MBM has 35 years of experience providing business IT solutions. Our mission is to provide seamless technology integration and managed services for cloud access, hardware infrastructure, cabling, and print.