Office 365 is a hugely popular cloud-based productivity suite used by  businesses all over the globe for email, content creation, collaboration and communication.

Email content is stored in the Exchange Online mailboxes and file content is stored in OneDrive, SharePoint and Teams.

The Office 365 service provides excellent resilience against any technology failures in the Microsoft data centres.

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So you might assume that there is no need to backup your O365 email and file content.

This blog looks at how your cloud data can be lost or compromised, what protections Office 365 includes out of the box, and the additional benefits that 3rd party O365 backup and restore solutions like SkyKick offer.

This blog and the eBook, which covers everything in more detail, will help you decide whether or not you need to back-up your O365 data.

How Data Loss Happens In The Cloud

Data loss occurs mainly as a result of your own employee’s actions, with 64% of all data loss being due to accidental deletion of emails or files.


This has proven to be such a problem that almost one in three companies found that they had lost information and data that had been stored in the cloud.

There are a few ways that data loss can occur:

  1. Accidental deletion

Your users may accidentally delete emails, files or folders. This is increasingly easily done as people work across devices and locations. Deleting something by accident on a phone is especially easily done. Or users may intentionally delete something thinking that it won’t be needed again.

  1. Hackers

Malware and viruses have always been a problem for companies, and just recently there has been an exposure to a new kind of problem – ransomware. This involves a hacker encrypting files and holding them for a ransom. These all result in your data being corrupted or inaccessible.

  1. Malicious deletion

Disgruntled employees may choose to delete certain contacts, emails or files. Or they may delete their entire mailbox or OneDrive for Business account. If they have any level of admin access, the damage will be much worse. This deletion could have occurred recently, or a year or two ago and you don’t realise until you need access to that data.

  1. Software Issues

A variety of software issues make up the remainder of the causes of data loss, a piece of software may overwrite data for example, or the expiry of a license could prevent the creation of certain data.

Data Protection Offered by Office 365

Office 365 includes Geo-redundancy which means that Microsoft are mirroring your data across multiple data centres. This is great should the datacentre, that your Office 365 workloads are in, have a problem, as your data is safely copied to another data centre.

However, changes made to your data at your end (by your users, or malware etc) are also being mirrored across the datacentres. If a file is deleted or corrupted, that change also gets replicated to the other datacentres.

So mirroring your live data is NOT the same as keeping a series of backups from points in time that you can recover from.

Office 365 does provide some ability to recover deleted data, as it keeps deleted emails and files for a limited amount of time. For emails this can be set to max of 30 days and for files in SharePoint and OneDrive this is 93 days.

Beyond those retention limits, the deleted data is unrecoverable. This also doesn’t provide any protection against corrupted or encrypted data, or malicious permanent deletion of data.

The higher-priced Office 365 licenses include features like Legal Hold and Archiving which are designed to meet legal and compliance requirements. They are not designed as simple backup and restore solutions, and restoring an email using Legal Hold for example is a complex and time consuming business.

So, do you need to backup your O365 data?

That decision is up to you, but it needs to be an informed decision that you can make when you understand:

  • What business data you are storing in O365
  • How might that data be lost or corrupted
  • What data recovery options you have in place for that data, for example
    • How do you recover emails deleted 6 months ago?
    • How do you recover your files stored in OneDrive if they get corrupted?

What should you look for in an O365 backup solution?

If you do decide that you would like to backup your O365 data, the good news is that there are a number of 3rd party solutions available that offer these services.

So what should you look for?

The key criteria you might consider are:

  • Scope of Office 365 applications that are backed up (for example, email, OneDrive, SharePoint, etc.)
  • How regularly are the backups run?
  • How easy is it to restore something from the backup?
  • How long does it take to restore something?
  • Where is the restored item put?
  • How granular is the restore?
    • Can you restore just one item if you want to?
    • What restore points can you choose?
  • Who has access to use the backup and restore solution?
  • How long can your backup data be kept?
  • How much backup data can you store?
  • Where is your backup data kept?
  • How much does the solution cost and how is it priced?

If you would like to know more about this topic then please download our free eBook “Protect your Office 365 Experience with Cloud Backup” or contact us.

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What do we use?

We run our business on Office 365, and we use SkyKick Cloud Backup to backup our email and file content. We have implemented this solution for many of our O365 customers.

Please get in touch to find out how we can help you.

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