How to Backup Microsoft Office 365...the Right Way

Microsoft Office 365 BackupMicrosoft Office 365 provides a dynamic, collaborative workspace for its users. With a complete platform offering, robust content sharing options, industry-leading security measures, and attention to privacy and compliance, it’s the go-to suite of services for many organizations. Despite all the benefits of Office 365, however, data backup remains elusive. And, with studies showing 60% of companies that lose critical data  shut down within six months of the disaster, backup solutions are critical for organizations.


What Backup Solution Does Office 365 Offer?

Microsoft Office 365 offers very basic data protection, and cannot guarantee a complete restoration of lost data. Even when data is retrievable, whether lost through human error, power outages, hackers, or natural disasters, the recovery process is long and complex, and retention policies differ from app to app within the Microsoft cloud platform, confusing matters.

While Microsoft does everything in its power to ensure their customers don’t lose their data, offering versioning, a recovery folder, and the preservation lock feature, the simple fact is that Office 365 does not specialize in data backup and recovery; this is the responsibility of each Office 365 user. It’s also important to note that Microsoft’s policies are not designed to give customers direct access to backed up data with the ability to restore it easily. Microsoft MVP Brien Posey (former head of IT security for Fort Knox) explains.

“The sad truth is that you might not have as many options for restoring your data as you might think. As such, it is critically important to understand your options for disaster recovery in an Office 365 environment…Microsoft says they perform traditional backups of Office 365 servers. However, those backups are used for internal purposes only if they experienced a catastrophic event that wiped out large volumes of customer data…This can be a bit disheartening, because item-level recovery alone is often inadequate. Item-level recovery protects an organization against deleting items such as messages or mailboxes, but it does not allow for the recovery of a corrupt mailbox. Neither is there a provision for reverting a mailbox server to an earlier point in time (such as might be necessary if a virus corrupted all the mailboxes on a server). The Office 365 service-level agreement addresses availability, not recoverability.”

Those who feel Microsoft has pulled the wool over their eyes—having them believe their data was automatically protected—shouldn’t. The tech giant makes its position on data backup and recovery quite clear in the service agreement for Office 365, which states:

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.

With experts, and Microsoft itself, suggesting bringing on a third-party data center to protect your data, it just makes sense. Think about it: the protections built into Office 365 are built into Office 365; using it to protect itself is like backing up your desktop files to your local hard drive only. Your applications need to be protected by something that isn’t that application. That’s why following the 3-2-1 rule of data backup is imperative.


How To Backup Microsoft Office 365

Coined by Peter Krogh, a commercial photographer who is also widely considered an expert in Digital Asset Management (The DAM Book), the 3-2-1 rule states that:


3 backup copies of your data should be maintained

Keeping three copies of your data (primary plus two backups) minimizes risk through probability. Imagine all your devices have the same characteristics, but no common failure causes. Now, imagine the probability of failure for each is 1/100. Maintaining primary data on one device offers a 1/100 chance of losing data. With a secondary device, the chance of losing data drops to 1/10,000 (1/100 x 1/100). With three backups, risk drops to a much more acceptable 1/1,000,000 (1/100 x 1/100 x 1/100).

2 independent storage mediums should be used

In the above scenario, there were no common failure causes across devices. But in the real world, when one disk fails, another is bound to follow suit. The 3-2-1 rule recommends using two types of storage to avoid such a scenario, for example, an internal hard drive plus a removable medium (tapes, external hard drives, USBs, etc.) or two internal hard drives in different locations.

1 backup copy should be stored offsite

Physical separation between copies is a necessity, and storing online backups in the cloud is an ideal solution. Not only do online data backup solutions add another layer of data protection, but a reliable data center is better equipped to handle threats such as fires, floods, or theft because they’re designed for them. Reputable data centers will have fire suppression systems, hurricane-rated structuring, environmental controls, raised flooring, biometric scanning, backup power supplies, and 24/7 surveillance.


DSM Has Your Back (up)

If you’re using Microsoft Office 365 and aren’t able to properly back it up, consider DSM, Florida’s preferred cloud provider. We’re positioned high and dry in the middle of the state with geo-diverse locations, so if there’s an incident in the Sunshine State, we can temporarily move workloads to another location to keep it protected and accessible to you. In addition, if you’re already using on-premise data management (DM) software such as Veeam, Zerto, or Commvault, you can now get physical and virtual backups offsite through DSM to replicate virtual machines—without the cost or complexity of building and maintaining off-site infrastructure. Want to learn more? Contact the experts at DSM today.



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