In 2011, Microsoft launched its cloud-based service, Microsoft Office 365. This product aimed to improve user communication and collaboration efficiency. Simply put, it allowed companies to manage their data in the cloud. Eleven years later, the number of Office 365 company users worldwide has now reached 1 million users.
Data backup is a crucial aspect of a company’s data protection strategy. It prevents data loss and ensures business continuity. But as companies move to cloud computing, they are revisiting their data protection strategies to address the new challenges.
In this article, we settle the misconception among organizations about how much control they retain over their Office 365 cloud data and who is responsible for its safety. We will also explore why Office 365 data backup is still necessary and critical for your business.
The Shared Responsibility Model: Where Does Microsoft Stand?
When migrating business data to a cloud SaaS environment such as Microsoft 365, companies often misunderstand the responsibilities of these cloud service providers. Companies assume that data protection falls on the shoulder of their SaaS provider when in fact, it is the customer’s responsibility alone. Such misconceptions, when left unattended, may lead to damaging consequences.
Microsoft’s responsibility can be summarized by its management of four areas:
- Uptime: Microsoft’s prime focus is to maintain its infrastructure up and running.
- Data replication: Microsoft 365 provides geographic redundancy that replicates data on geographically separate hardware to ensure that multiple copies of the data are always available in case of disaster hits a certain geographical area. Hence, in case of an infrastructure crash, Microsoft users will continue to work productively without interruption.
- Access control: Microsoft provides phone and message authentication in addition to multi-factor authentication while using the basic password method.
- Physical access: Microsoft created security processes and policies for their data centers to reduce the risk of unauthorized physical access. Such policies ensure that attackers cannot access the data stored in the system by physically accessing the servers that host it.
While companies like Microsoft offer robust cloud architectures that ensure the service’s availability, the responsibility to manage and protect business-critical data rests within the customers, that is the service users. A comprehensive and adaptable Office 365 data backup and recovery solution is increasingly crucial to companies to ensure they have full access and control over the data they create and share.
Here are 7 reasons why.
7 Reasons Why You Need a Microsoft 365 Backup Solution
While using Office 365, you may face internal and external threats that native Microsoft tools can’t mitigate. In this case, a reliable third-party backup tool can help.
Accidental Data Deletion
One of the most common causes of data loss is accidental data deletion. The latter is an unintentional deletion by an authorized user. Users can accidentally delete any critical data, documents, or emails due to a lack of concentration or a moment of confusion. However, such errors can cost businesses millions of dollars.
Microsoft provides tools to reduce the risk of accidental data loss, such as the Microsoft 365 recycling bin, but they have limited recovery and retention functionality. Data accidentally deleted will be placed in the recycle bin for 30 days. After that time, accidentally deleted files can be irrecoverable if there is no backup plan in place.
Today, security is a primary focus and goal for businesses. However, protecting your organization is becoming more complex as data flows in and out of the organization in various ways, resulting in companies falling victim to threats and attacks from external sources.
Malware, cyberattacks, and ransomware are just some of the viruses or methods that hackers use to gain access to your company. These external threats are on the rise and are causing severe damage to organizations in terms of corporate reputation and customer data privacy. In 2021, 68.5 percent of companies were hit with ransomware, the largest figure reported thus far.
With the increasing scale and sophistication of cyber threats, educating employees about cybersecurity isn’t enough anymore. An Office 365 backup tool is a beneficial way to protect and recover your company’s data after such external attacks.
Businesses also experience threats from their own employees. Studies show that 95 percent of cybersecurity breaches are due to human error, both intentional and unintentional. For example, a terminated employee can attempt to delete critical data before leaving, or current employees accidentally download infected files.
Such incidents can create dangerous threats that can leave the company struggling to retrieve any data loss. However, robust backup solutions like NAKIVO backup for Office 365 offer security features to limit users’ access rights and thus prevent the loss of your data.
Data Retention Gaps
Data retention is a necessary proactive aspect of any company’s data protection strategy. Such policies are used to reduce the possibility of lawsuits or data breaches and ensure that users work with up-to-date content.
Microsoft 365 does not offer a native backup feature but instead provides retention policies with specific capabilities and limitations that might not address the company’s needs. Such limitations or gaps include:
- Inability to back up a former employee’s data
- A 93-day retention policy for inactive users
- Unavailability of the point-in-time restoration of mailbox items
Hence, the responsibility of any organization is to ensure that they retain their Microsoft 365 data for the required period per their internal policies or applicable laws. A proper backup plan helps you create a customizable and flexible retention policy to ensure complete control over your Microsoft 365 data and prevent retention gaps.
In certain situations, companies must retain data in archives for financial, legal, and compliance purposes. Such requirements and regulations differ from one country to another and between industries. However, they all have in common the fines and penalties that the company might incur in case they don’t abide by these regulations.
Microsoft 365 offers some basic preventive measures to help companies adhere to compliance requirements. This functionality from Microsoft is called the Litigation Hold feature. It aims to freeze data to prevent permanent deletion. However, there are two limitations to this feature:
- The storage of the Litigation Hold is limited to 100 GB.
- It only works with currently available data. Deleted data cannot be recovered and put on hold.
On the other hand, a backup solution can protect you from regulatory non-compliance by offering several benefits. A backup solution provides unlimited storage to keep your data. It can as well provide you the possibility to restore deleted data, in addition to a granular recovery of this data, hence providing you the opportunity to save money and time.
Absence of Regular Backups
Companies manage critical data daily. Therefore organizations should back up their data regularly to prevent its loss.
Microsoft 365 provides geographic redundancy that replicates data on geographically separated hardware. Geo-redundancy can be confused with backup when they are entirely different.
Backup is a copy of data created and stored in another location at fixed times. Companies have control and direct access to that backup and can recover data in case of loss. Geo redundancy, by contrast, protects against infrastructure failure.
Hence, backup solutions are essential to protect your data. Unlike regular backup, a solution should provide the automation capabilities that modern solutions offer. Those solutions can support incremental backup to save time, resources, and disk space. Incremental backup enables you to conduct an initial backup of the entire Office 365 data, followed by a backup for only changes.
Limited Granular Recovery
The native retention policy of Microsoft office 365 provides users 30 days to 90 days to recover any accidentally deleted emails, files, or folders. In addition, Microsoft allows you to restore previous versions of your documents. However, this will overwrite any new data from your file resulting in data loss.
In return, the right backup solution will provide you with an easy way to recover your data, thus making granular recoveries faster and more efficient. This recovery can be made using an advanced search feature that allows you to browse and recover what you want and when you want.
Despite the reliability of Microsoft as a cloud provider in providing a mechanism that would minimize data loss in Office 365, it is the responsibility of businesses to protect and control their data. The only way to do that is through a Microsoft 365 data backup solution. Choosing the right solution to protect your data can save you time and money.