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Office 365 – To back up or not to back up?

This seems to be the NEW question plaguing people in the digital age, with most of society divided into two distinct camps when it comes to the answer:

The Back-Ups:

Those who understand the value of the action and accept their level of individual responsibility to maintain data security and access not matter where it may be located.


The NO Back-Ups:

Those who like to live life on the edge by perpetuating misconceptions about the level of data protection they receive from the manufacturer.

Microsoft has without a doubt done a marvellous job with Office 365 by providing a suite of applications that allow us to complete a variety of tasks with ease, but now that almost our entire lives – private and professional – are online, the negative ripple effect that can happen due to data loss is far-reaching. So, should you back up your Office 365?


If you had bought a new car with top-of-the-line security features but failed to enable them correctly AND failed to park the car in a secure area, resulting in it being stolen, would it be your fault the car was stolen or the manufacturer’s? The simple fact is that you would be wholeheartedly responsible whether you like to admit it or not, and this is the same hard truth when it comes to your data. Manufacturers can only protect us from becoming a victim to a certain extent when it comes to their products, so it is up to us to know where their responsibility ends and ours begins – especially online. So, here are 4 critical reasons you should backup your Office 365.


Accidental Deletion

Whether you have deleted data accidentally or not, the action is replicated across the network. In Exchange, while a soft delete is temporary, meaning the deleted data is retrievable without a backup, a hard delete is permanent and, without a backup, you can say goodbye to the deleted data forever. But just because you had originally only completed a soft delete, it does not mean that your data is necessarily retrievable.

Deleted data can be flagged as a hard delete if:
  • It was soft deleted for more than 30 days without being restored
  • The user account connected to the deleted data was hard deleted
  • The Recoverable Items folder, which acts as a cache for soft deletions, has been manually emptied

It should be clearly noted here, though, that a soft or hard delete is ONLY applicable to Exchange. OneDrive and SharePoint operate on a standard deletion framework – once deleted and the trashcan has been emptied, the data is no longer retrievable.

Security Threats – Internal and External

Security threats are one of the biggest issues facing many businesses today, and while we often see them as the result of an external entity, the truth is that they can also come from internal actors as well. As such, Microsoft is unable to distinguish between a regular user and a rogue employee who may be trying to delete, modify, corrupt, or encrypt sensitive company data as a form of revenge.

Similarly, malware and viruses can cause serious damage by corrupting data or preventing company access to critical data until a ransom is paid (ransomware). Even if the ransom is paid, there is no guarantee that you will be given access or that the data itself will not have been compromised.


Legal Hold Limitations

Legal action is something that everyone wants to avoid but can sometimes be unavoidable. While the Microsoft 365 eDiscovery tool is often used to identify and retrieve company data that can be used in legal action, it is only meant for archiving and retrieving business data and can’t be used for mass data restoration or data migration if the tenant is lost. Therefore, it is not the robust backup solution that your organisation will need to ensure your company has access to all the necessary evidence to win a lawsuit.

Retention Policy Issues

Of course, Office 365 has retention policies in order to comply with regulations, but there are limitations in the global application of such policies which can leave significant gaps in data retention which organisations and users are often unaware of. Ensuring your organisation has an adequate backup solution guarantees that any holes in Microsoft retention policies are patched, meaning your organisation has more thorough data protection capabilities which undoubtedly comply with company governance requirements.

Backing up is never a bad thing

Whether you are part of “The Back Up” or “The NO Back Up” group, ultimately, it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your critical data, so you can never have TOO much protection. If data integrity, protection, and security is vital to your organisation, it’s a good idea to get some outside help from those with the right expertise. So, give the team at Linktech Australia a call to see how they can help you keep your critical data safe.