Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications are becoming increasingly popular each day. And, they are here to stay for a long time mainly due to their affordability and ease of use.
According to Gartner, SaaS solutions generated revenue of around $105 billion in 2020 – an incredible $20 billion growth from 2019 . It is safe to assume that the COVID-19 pandemic played an important role to fuel this growth.
At present, a lot of companies use SaaS productivity applications such as Microsoft Office 365 to improve team collaboration and access important information from any device and location.
While these companies understand the benefits of using Microsoft Office 365, they tend to believe that a backup is not important. Nearly 25% of businesses think they do not need to backup Office 365 .
That is surprising, especially when Microsoft does not guarantee swift and entire restoration of lost or corrupt Microsoft 365 data. In simple words, while Microsoft ensures that they will not share or lose your data, it does not guarantee that it will recover the same for you.
This is why it is very important to backup Office 365.
Here are three main reasons why you should back up your Microsoft 365 data:
- To prevent data loss and corruption
- To adhere to the laws and regulations
- To cut down or avoid expenses on downtime
The price of compromised data may cost your company millions of dollars. Although Microsoft’s cutting-edge security features are in place, cases of data loss have been reported, primarily due to external factors.
Hence, your company should take the right measures to keep your critical data safe. This will also mean that you are keeping your company away from reputational and financial damage.
Why Should You Backup Office 365?
Although there are many reasons why you should backup Microsoft 365, we have churned out five main reasons below.
1. Outages and disruptions of Microsoft services
Although service disruptions and power outages due to software or hardware malfunction are rare with Microsoft, they exist. For instance, the recent Microsoft Outlook bug caused quite an uproar as thousands of users were not able to create and view email.
If things go wrong at Microsoft’s end, you will not be able to access your data and continue with your work unless you have created a backup. Such outages or disruptions can incur heavy financial losses to small and medium businesses (SMB). As per a report published by Ponemon Institute, it could cost an SMB anything between $8,000 to $74,000 per hour .
Having said that, do you know what’s the worst that can happen? When the servers are damaged or impacted to a great extent, you will never be able to recover your data.
If you go through the Microsoft services agreement, you will find that Microsoft has clearly stated that it is not responsible for your data on rare occurrences of outages and disruptions.
2. If a Microsoft 365 account is deleted, data on that account will be deleted
Companies around the world delete their Office 365 accounts for a range of reasons such as:
- To switch to another data management service
- Expiration of existing license
- Save money on licenses if a resource leaves
- Accidental account deletion
- The account is deleted with malice
It does not matter why and how your account was deleted. The bottom line here is that the end result will remain the same, and that is a permanent loss of data.
Microsoft even talks about these possibilities in its service agreement and advises users to back up their data before deleting an account.
3. Limitations in native Office 365 backup and recovery
A lot of you may be interested in knowing if Microsoft backs up Office 365 data. The answer is yes, but with a few limitations.
Microsoft 365 allows all users to recover deleted files and data. However, the recovery tools are very limited. What do we mean by limited?
Although you can recover recently deleted files, you will hit a dead-end when it comes to other cases. For instance, you will not be able to recover items that were deleted a long time ago and files that were deleted due to cyber attacks. Microsoft cannot help you with such cases.
Some of the limitations of Microsoft’s recovery tools are given below.
- Limited recovery time – Microsoft 365 retention time is very limited. Some deleted items are secured for up to 30 days. However, items that have been purged will be lost.
- Point-in-time recovery – At times when your mailbox is compromised and the version history is off, your files will be deleted permanently. You will not be able to recover these lost files as it is not possible to opt for a “clean” version. You will only be able to restore files if you have a Microsoft 365 backup.
- The complex recovery process – Today, there are many professional backup software available that provides a one-click solution. Unfortunately, Office 365 is not one of them. When you try to recover items through In-Place eDiscovery & Hold, you will have to deal with a lot of steps and conditions.
- Microsoft does not follow the 3-2-1 rule – The 3-2-1 rule is the gold standard of safe backups. The rule states that you should store three backups on two media with a minimum of one off-site copy. Despite this, Microsoft continues to store cloud backup data in the same cloud as the source data.
In simple terms, Microsoft’s cloud can be breached by the same threats as the data it backs up. In Microsoft’s defense, Microsoft 365 isn’t a backup service, so it does not necessarily have to adhere to the 3-2-1 rule.
4. Data deleted in Office 365 cannot be restored without backup
Users can delete their Microsoft 365 data in two ways: one, soft-deletion which is temporary, and hard-deletion which is permanent. In the former, you can recover data without a backup; but in the latter, you cannot.
Data can be permanently deleted without any chances of being restored in the following cases:
- When you soft-delete your data and do not restore it within 30 days
- When the account linked to the data that is deleted has been permanently deleted
- When data from the Recoverable items file is manually deleted
However, there is a catch here. If the files that were hard-deleted were recovered through Microsoft’s retention policy, you can access that data through eDiscovery.
5. Office 365 data is vulnerable to external viruses and threats
There is a strong reason why companies are spending big money on cybersecurity. Your valuable data on Office 365 is vulnerable to cyber-attacks and external security threats.
In recent years, brute force attacks, data theft, malicious applications, ransomware, and account hijacking have caused considerable disruptions.
In their attempt to help users, Microsoft 365 provides an array of useful tools to enhance data security. One of the many tools is Microsoft 365 Security & Compliance Center. It is a central hub with compliance and resource scoring systems for IT admins.
IT admins can define the security settings related to data loss prevention, phishing management, threat management, etc through this hub.
What people do not pick up is that Microsoft uses a “shared responsibility” model. According to this model, management of compliance and security is a partnership. This means that Microsoft will protect its Microsoft 365 services, and the users have to look for the protection of their devices, data, and identities.
Backup Microsoft 365 with third-party applications
We hope that by now you are convinced that you need Microsoft 365 backup. Now the next step is to identify the best way to backup your data.
As we found out above, native tools may not be enough to accomplish a secure backup. Thus, the best alternative here is to find a reliable third-party backup tool.
Third-party tools offer complete backup to ensure your data cannot be compromised in any way. Although third-party tools are the best for Microsoft 365 backup, you should also understand that not all tools can be trusted.
Wrapping it Up!
The answer to your question “Do I Need Microsoft 365 Backup?” is a Yes. You should backup your Microsoft 365 data and make it a priority in your future IT strategies.
This will not only protect your data from external threats but also save you from financial damage.
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 Kidd. C (2020) “SaaS in 2021: Growth Trends & Statistics” BMC [online] Available from: https://www.bmc.com/blogs/saas-growth-trends/# [accessed June 2021]
 Burton. A (2019) “Why you need Office 365 backup” Carbonite [online] Available from: https://www.carbonite.com/blog/article/2019/07/why-you-need-office-365-backup [accessed June 2021]
 Fidler. P (2019) “5 Shocking Disaster Recovery Statistics for SMBs” WCA Technologies [online] Available from: https://www.wcatech.com/5-shocking-disaster-recovery-statistics-smbs/ [accessed June 2021]