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3.33 min to readDigital Workplace

Backing up your data in Microsoft 365 – accidental deletion

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Matthew ShowersGlobal Best Practice Manager - Technology Services
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Employees are the force that fuels innovation at great organizations, and today’s successful businesses have learned how to leverage the power of collaboration to help their workforce achieve it. But many of the tools that make innovation possible – information sharing tools, cloud services, and the myriad of apps and services that individuals use on a daily basis – can cause security vulnerability gaps that could lead to data loss. One of the most common, yet overlooked, sources of data loss is accidental deletion.

When an employee deletes data from their Mailbox, OneDrive for Business, or SharePoint Online but didn’t mean to, or if they change their mind later, it is called “accidental deletion”. This is not the same as malicious deletion, which we covered in an earlier post in this series. Despite awareness of the problem, this and other human errors are present across all types of businesses and up and down the power chain at every company. In other words, human error is still an unsolved issue for security teams everywhere.

Luckily, there are third-party solutions available to you that will help users recover their deleted files. Without solutions like this in place, accidentally-deleted files could be lost forever. Even if your team is able to restore the files, it could take hours. In the meantime, employees would need to sit with their hands tied, unable to access their business-critical files. However, with backup and restore services, you can quickly restore backup data should any of your users experience an accidental deletion.

Let’s take a closer look at how accidental deletion occurs and how your organization can confront it.

Accidental deletion: a use case scenario

Let’s walk through a common scenario. Lisa was not feeling especially creative one day, so in order to remain productive, she declared it “Cleanup Day” and resolved to get her files in order. She started by organizing her OneDrive files. The most recent quarter was extremely stressful and she simply never had the time to create folders to keep her documents organized. To put it simply, her OneDrive was a chaotic mess. Cleanup Day would entail corralling hundreds of stored files into meticulously organized folders she would create herself.

As Lisa became more involved in her project, she soon realized that Cleanup Day would have another dimension to it: deleting unfinished drafts, junk files she didn’t need, and copies of files she had made over the past several months.

And so, the deletion began. Lisa found a large number of unnamed or badly named files – so many that she stopped opening them to find out what they were and just sent them directly to the recycle bin. Her supervisors simply wouldn’t allow her to spend all week on this so taking a shortcut seemed to make perfect sense. But, like many others before her have done, Lisa ended up accidentally deleting files that she needed.

Worse yet, four months later, Lisa’s colleague Jeff had an important meeting coming up and needed one of those files – the two had collaborated on a report. When he went to retrieve it, it was not there because Lisa had deleted it. With only one day left until the big meeting, Jeff was working with his hands tied because he could not quickly get access to the deleted file.

Didn’t mean to delete those files? SoftwareOne has your back

One of the reasons accidental deletion flies under the radar at so many businesses is that a lot of people are under the impression that Microsoft 365 offers backup. Yes, M365 saves deleted items that went to the recycle bin– but only for 1 month. After that month, they are permanently deleted.

Other types of files in the M365 environment pass through two stages of recycle bins after which they are permanently deleted as follows:

  • Deleted SharePoint Online items are permanently deleted after three months.
  • Deleted OneDrive for Business files are permanently deleted after three months

Retrieving the data from those recycle bins can prove time-consuming and complicated. Someone has to contact Microsoft support and then hope to get an answer quickly. In Jeff’s case, there was no time to wait and hear back and no clear timeframe was given for when he would get a response.

A third-party backup and recovery service like SoftwareOne’s BackupSimple not only simplifies the process of recovering accidentally-deleted files but also encrypts data while it is in transit and at rest so your data is secure. Data is continually backed up so the recovery process is fast and smooth with little, if any, lag time during which deleted data is inaccessible.

Recover accidentally deleted files with managed backup

In a world where your files and data are everything, BackupSimple protects your most valuable assets. Managed backup streamlines the business of backing up, protecting, and recovering files so you never lose a thing. The surprising part: most small and mid-sized businesses are pleased to discover that BackupSimple does not require a large investment in infrastructure so you can practically jump right in, no matter your situation.

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Backing up your data in M365

Need help understanding how BackupSimple can help support your organization? New to Microsoft 365 and looking for a third-party backup and recovery service? Learn more with our eBook, “Backing Up Your Data in Microsoft 365.”

Backing up your data in M365

Need help understanding how BackupSimple can help support your organization? New to Microsoft 365 and looking for a third-party backup and recovery service? Learn more with our eBook, “Backing Up Your Data in Microsoft 365.”


A silhouette of a person on a white background.

Matthew Showers
Global Best Practice Manager - Technology Services

Data Backup Specialist