Most of us don’t think about backing up our Email, OneDrive files or SharePoint data residing in Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud. Microsoft takes care of that… or do they?
Let’s talk first about Email.
While Microsoft does a great job in providing a secure and redundant infrastructure to host Office 365 data, they offer limited administration and end user backup and restore capabilities. This leaves you vulnerable to the most common cause of data loss in Office 365: human error. With a couple of keystrokes, critical information or a document can be wiped out forever.
Here’s how it works: When you delete an email, it goes into your “Deleted Items” folder and will stay there for whatever retention period has been pre-determined. If you permanently delete email (shift-delete or delete from deleted items folder), it is retained by Microsoft for 14 days, after which it is non-recoverable. There is no backup of this data that you can retrieve after this point.
What are the implications?
- Firstly, assuming you are within the 14-day recovery period, it is important to note that these deleted emails are no longer folder specific, meaning if they were deleted from different folders, they will only recover back into a single folder. For example, if you had a folder with many subfolders that you wanted to recover, good luck re-organizing that information as it won’t recover back to the folder structure you had it in.
- What if an employee permanently deletes emails or folders that they thought weren’t important, but it is later discovered (after the 14 day hold period) those emails or folders contained critical information? They are not recoverable.
- What if an employee knows they are about to be let go and permanently deletes certain critical emails or public folders. If this isn’t discovered until after the 14-day hold period, they are not recoverable.
- What if one or more employee’s mailbox gets corrupted (or encrypted as with a Ransomware attack)? There is no capability to restore that mailbox to a version prior to the corruption occurring.
- What if an employee leaves the organization? If their mailbox is permanently deleted, but you later determine you wish to view their emails, there is no restore option.
Exchange Online contacts are stored within the Global Address List. There is no way to restore any one of them if they are deleted accidentally or intentionally.
Microsoft does not provide a mechanism within Office 365 to backup and restore calendars.
OneDrive uses the recycle bin approach, similar to Exchange Online and its Deleted Items and Recoverable Items folder features. To restore a deleted file, one must access the site Recycle Bin (1st stage Recycle Bin), or site collection Recycle Bin (2nd stage Recycle Bin). Each Recycle Bin can allow for single or multiple files to be restored. Restoring a file from either Recycle Bin will return the file back to its original location within OneDrive for Business. If the file does not exist in either Recycle Bin, consider it lost.
If lots of your OneDrive files get deleted, overwritten, corrupted, or infected by malware, you can restore your entire OneDrive to a previous time. Files Restore helps Office 365 subscribers undo all the actions that occurred on both files and folders within the last 30 days. This means, however, that all changes newer than the restore date you choose will be lost.
Files Restore uses version history and the recycle bin to restore OneDrive, so it’s subject to the same restrictions as those features. Version history must have been turned on prior to the 30-day roll-back period in order for Files Restore to restore files to a previous version. Deleted files can’t be restored after they’ve been removed from the 2nd stage recycle bin, either by manual delete or by emptying that recycle bin.
Office 365 has been designed in such a way that you as an organization do not need to worry about core infrastructure. You never need to worry about patching or backing up and monitoring the core infrastructure. Microsoft ensures that they are not the cause for any data loss but only offers limited restore capabilities if the cause for data loss is yours.
To ensure the security of your cloud data, it is imperative to have a secure and reliable third-party backup and restore solution. BSC Solutions Group offers an affordable solution which backs up your email, calendar, contacts, OneDrive for Business files & folders plus SharePoint data. All is backed up outside of the Microsoft cloud to a third-party cloud.