Are There Holes in Your

Office 365 Data Backup?

Are There Holes in Your Office 365 Data Backup?

Microsoft Office 365 provides customers with plenty of useful and interesting benefits, but effective, enterprise-grade data backup is not one of them. If you take a closer look at your SLA, you will find that Microsoft does not actually address data recovery for large scale data loss. Microsoft addresses data recovery with retention periods that can be unlimited, or through legal hold if the customer is licensed for this use. These tools are designed to help individuals manage their accidental data removals and to help legal or HR manage data needed for legal processes, not for providing and enterprise recovery solution. They are both aimed at small data retention and recovery.

This can be a major issue for your organization in the event of large-scale data loss. Without an enterprise-grade recovery solution in place, it would take a long time for these small data retention tools to recover data mailbox by mailbox. As email is a business-critical tier one system, organizations need the recovery capabilities in place to restore data quickly and return operations as usual.

With this in mind, it is important to take a deeper look at your Office 365’s backup infrastructure to identify potential gaps in coverage that can pose a risk to your business. While finding a gap in your Office 365 backup is not ideal, there are ways to fill them. Let’s zero in on what Office 365 offers, the holes to be aware of, and how a third-party solution can step in.

What Does Office 365 Offer for Backup?

Many Office 365 users may be under the impression that Microsoft provides them with full backup and restore capabilities, but the system’s offerings are surprisingly limited. The way Office 365 is currently set up, the core infrastructure is completely protected in terms of backups. When something outside of that core infrastructure is deleted and needs to be recovered, however, the answer on how to retrieve that information is not so cut and dry.

Once items have been deleted from your deleted items folder, where do they go? Well, Office 365 has a primary and secondary recycle bin, each with a 93-day retention period (that can be set to unlimited.) Once these bins have been emptied, any previously held items are likely irretrievable.

Additionally, it can be a headache to even attempt to retrieve any of those items. You would have to contact Microsoft support and wait to hear back on an appropriate solution, but you will not be given a concrete timeframe on when it could be fully resolved. Worse, there is a chance that it may not be able to be resolved at all. Given the corporate reliance on data today, any amount of lag time in which data is inaccessible can have serious consequences on productivity and bottom line.

Other Potential Threats

There are several reasons that your organizations may need access to an enterprise-grade backup and recovery platform at a moment’s notice. For example, say there is a weather event that causes flooding, damaging your data center. Without large-scale restore capabilities operations could halt for weeks.

Or, perhaps your organization experiences a ransomware attack, locking you and your colleagues out of the corporate network. Having an up to date backup is one of the only ways to retrieve this data without paying a costly ransom, and moreover, is one of the only ways to ensure your restored data is clean and untampered by the Cyber-Criminals.

Finally, something as simple as employee error could lead to the deletion of important data or documents which then need to be recovered. These are all threats to be aware of in case you were ever to find your organization at the center of them.

How to Look for an Office 365 Backup Solution

There is no doubt that a third-party backup solution is needed to ensure that all of your data is safely and properly backed up, and easily restored in the event of an issue. There are certain characteristics that you need to look for in order to ensure you’re getting the best solution for your organization.

These include:


When choosing a third-party backup solution, you should look for something that is as encompassing as possible. In other words, you will want this solution to cover every system and application you use. Not only will this save you money, it will save you valuable time that could be used elsewhere.

Ease of Use

This may seem like a given, but really dig deep to find a solution that will be easy to install and put to work. The backup and recovery process can be tricky and at times frustrating, so the last thing you want to deal with is a backup solution that is just as complicated.


Look for something that allows you to backup and manage your on-premise and cloud-hosted data within single pane of glass visibility. A single view across your data landscape and business continuity plan in the form of one backup solution for all of your backup needs is preferable.


Fear of noncompliance or loss of control over data is a common concern when it comes to using a third-party backup service. Many regulations note that the owner of the data is responsible for validating the security of third parties with which they share it. With this in mind, as you select a third-party backup service, be sure you understand how it is secured and where your data is stored. For example, is it encrypted in transit and at rest? Additionally, understand who has access to this data. Your organization is probably carefully deploying access management tools to ensure only necessary parties have access to highly sensitive information. If you are not equally as careful when considering access and security with a third party, data leakage can easily occur. To minimize security risks while leveraging a third-party service, look for one that allows your organization to maintain complete ownership and control over your data with the backup repository in your cloud subscription.


Try to find a backup solution that will allow you to pull one specific item, not an entire folder or container. Having that flexibility to restore to different mailboxes, outside of Office 365, and more is key. The ability to pull one deleted file from your backup will again save you the time it could have taken to search through a whole folder for what you’re looking for.


Cloud backup solutions backup data by accessing the platform as a user. This can cause performance problems on Office 365 making it complicated to scale as data volumes get larger. With this in mind, look for solutions that access your platform from internal APIs to ensure effective scalability as your data repository grows.

The Bottom Line of MS Office 365 Backup

If you are looking to keep the process as uncomplicated as possible, consider a third-party solution such as SoftwareONE’s BackupSimple. Solutions such as these allow you to access your assets through a single web portal so that even the most complex of data is available right at your fingertips. Plus, data is encrypted while in transit and at rest, so no one has access but you. Managing your backup through one pane of glass further simplifies the backup and maintenance process.

Microsoft Office 365 does not have the most comprehensive data retention capabilities, but there are third-party solutions available to help you fill in those important gaps. Spending the time and resources to find the best solution now will pay off later down the road. By installing a third-party solution, you’re investing in your organization’s future.

Discover more

Learn more about SoftwareONE’s Office 365 backup and restore offerings BackupSimple, or contact us to speak with an expert.

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Mathew Showers

Global Best Practice Manager - Technology Services

Data Backup, BackupSimple

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