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Do I need to backup Office 365?

Updated: Jun 18, 2021

Over 120 million business users are now using Microsoft Office 365. Is your firm one of them?

If you answered “yes” to the above question, or subconsciously nodded your head, then you may be asking:

“Do I even need to backup Office 365?

Well, the short answer is…YES!

Now, of course at this point in time, you might probably be disagreeing with me.

Why do I need to backup Office 365? Doesn’t Office 365 automatically backs up itself?

In fact, one of the things I find hardest to comprehend is when someone says, “______ is so good – it doesn’t need to be backed up.” The biggest example lately is when users think that Office 365 “performs backups” by itself! Imagine that!


“So if I am already using a cloud system like Office 365, do I need to deploy third-party backups?”

If you happen to scroll through the many posts in the Microsoft Technical Community, I wouldn’t be surprised if you scroll past this question a dozen times. This is in fact a very common and frequent question users like to ask. And while some people are passionate advocates for backups, others feel that backups aren’t necessary because Microsoft can be trusted to take care of the data…, which of course is true.

However, do know that the only backups Microsoft takes of customer data within Office 365 are for SharePoint Online. No backups are taken for Exchange Online, Teams, Planner, or Azure Active Directory.

There is hence a false impression that data created and stored in cloud ecosystems such as Office 365 doesn’t need to be backed up beyond the native offerings!

The fact is, businesses using Office 365 need to backup their data to ensure business continuity and reducing the risk of data loss. Period.


Here’s why:


1. Your data is in the cloud, but where?

So you say that your Office 365 backup data is in the cloud. But where is it? Where exactly is this data that you are oh-so-confident is in the Cloud?

What many people don’t realize is that their Office 365 data (Outlook emails, OneDrive documents, SharePoint files, Team conversations, etc.) are separate pieces of data, which are sometimes stored separately. So the only way to back it all up, and restore it all, is to find a system that is designed specifically to find it all, store it all, and restore it all efficiently and effectively. But this is no easy task for Office 365 ordinary backup tools!


2. Outlook doesn’t backup emails older than 30 days!

Did you know that Outlook doesn’t backup your emails older than 30 days that have been deleted from the bin?!

So lets say you have limited email storage, and one day decided to delete old emails that you find not necessary anymore. Now what happens if one day, out of the blue, an old client sues your company, and you need your email records for legal or regulatory compliance, should your firm ever be audited. What are you going to do now?


3. Hackers are out there and growing in numbers

If you happen to be like Patrick in SpongeBob Square pants, and lived under the rock these past few years, let me just splash you with a bit of reality on what the world is like today.

We now live in world so technologically advanced that hackers and data hostage viruses freely roam the streets of the Internet. Data loss and cyber attacks are now so common that it honestly puts all our IT security guards to shame.

According to a recent article from CNN, in 2017, WannaCry took down over 300,000 machines alone, and there were other just as sinister Ransomware attacks that caused severe business stress. What if your company was one of them?

Hence, the only way to truly protect your business from a cyber attack is by having a full and complete backup and archive of all your data.

Anything less, and your business is in great danger of being severely impacted by the loss of data.

However, Office 365 does not keep full and complete backups and archives of all your data going back months and years.


4. One Insurance Policy is always not enough

Let’s face it. We are all kiasu people. In fact, “kiasu” is everyone’s middle name. Having a data backup is like buying an insurance policy. One policy is never enough. We would tend to buy different policies to cover anything and everything under the sun, so that everything is insured.

This is similar to having a data backup! I mean in a way, data backup and archiving is like having a good insurance policy portfolio against the risk to your business of data loss!

Everyone should therefore adopt the 3-2-1 Rule of Backups. Three copies of your data on two different pieces of media, one of which should be offsite.

Using Office 365 to protect itself hence violates every one of these basic data protection concepts! The protections built into Office 365 are built into Office 365. It’s like backing up your laptop files to another slice on your local hard drive. Basically, an app should be protected by something that isn’t the app.


5. Laying all your eggs in one Microsoft basket may not be the wisest thing to so

What if you laid all your eggs in one Microsoft basket, what will happen when a catastrophic event occurs to that Microsoft basket? Well, you might not be able to access your data stored in Office 365 for a sustained period of time.

Of course, you might think I am crazy for spouting such nonsense because nothing like this has ever happened before till today. However, it is impossible to confidently state that such an event will NEVER happen.

In fact, outages do happen that affect Office 365, but these outages thus far are usually localized and only affect a subset of users and applications in a single datacenter region. But one can never be too sure that all your data stored in Microsoft alone is 100% safe and secure. It only takes one hacker to pull the whole system down. Remember the SingHealth 2018 Cyber Attack?


6. Technology is ever evolving

I hope you are not Patrick again in this case. I mean, you would have noticed all around you that technology is rapidly advancing and people are just as rapidly upgrading. I mean iPhone 11 is already out, and I felt like I had just bought my iPhone 7!

And because technology changes so quickly, it is hence advisable that tenants should assess their backup needs on an ongoing basis. The reality is that a conclusion reached two years ago might not stand up to the test of today because the application mix within Office 365 is different and the available functionality has expanded.

For example, two years ago, no one used Teams. Now, 329,000 organizations use Teams, all of whom must depend on Microsoft for Teams data storage because no backup API is available for Teams messages or other metadata.

So now, after reading all of this (hopefully you did), let me ask you:

“Do you think you need to backup Office 365?”

Well, hopefully, your answer is now…YES!


And if your company does not currently have an Office 365 Backup Solution, click the green button to implement one today!


eVantage Technology is a professional and trusted IT solutions provider, dedicated to providing exceptional service to companies in Singapore and across Asia.

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