10 months ago
If you look beyond the sales pitch of 3rd party Microsoft 365 Backup solutions – why, really, do you need to backup your Microsoft 365 data using a 3rd party product?
We at Xenit know all about what native Microsoft 365 protection offers. We know about Deleted Items, Recycle Bins, Retention Policies and Inactive Mailboxes and whatnot. All these features are great and work well and you should be using them – but they are not backup.
Here are some limitations with native Microsoft 365 protection. Notice that the exact number of days may vary a bit depending on settings in your tenant. After this number of days, the data is gone and can’t be recovered.
- Exchange Online – when an item is permanently deleted, either by mistake or intentionally, which means deleted from the Deleted Items folder, or if Deleted Items is emptied or if an item is Shift+Deleted, the item is kept for 14 days Notice that the user can purge these items earlier than that. If a mailbox is deleted completely, it’s kept for 30 days.
- Sharepoint/OneDrive keeps a deleted file in the Recycle Bin for 93 days. If the file would be deleted from the Recycle Bin before that, it will be kept in the 2nd stage Recycle Bin for the remainder if the 93 days. Deletion of a complete SharePoint site is also kept for 93 days before it’s completely deleted.
- Teams that are deleted are kept for 30 days.
Our philosophy is that if the data is still within this retention, you should aim to use the native tools of Microsoft 365 to restore the item. The reason is because it’s usually simple to do, both for an end-user and an admin and well documented.
But here are some examples why you would need a 3rd party product for Microsoft 365 Backup – and for some, the devil is in the details. We at Xenit know since we’ve been in incidents when the built-in really didn’t help.
- If you need longer retention than above
- Some edge scenarios really does not have a recover option. For example in OneNote. Unlike the full-featured OneNote apps, deleting sections (and all of the pages they contain) in OneNote for the web is immediate and cannot be undone.
- What if you want to restore a complete SharePoint site? Well, Microsoft can do that but you have to contact Microsoft support, they can only go up to 14 days and they can only REPLACE (overwrite) the current site – there is no restore to side-by-side.
- Even though each file has a version every time you update a file in SharePoint that you can roll back, there is a limit on how many versions that are kept, before the oldest one is permanently deleted. This can be an issue on files which are updated often.
- It’s quite common to restore using more complex scenarios. You might want to export content to a .zip-file? Or restore a file to another user’s OneDrive?
- But way to often, a user realizes a deleted file or mailbox is needed to late and data is gone.
But what about native Microsoft 365 Retention Policies? These are great – use them! Just make sure you’re properly licensed for it in Microsoft 365. But Retention Policies is not a substitute backup. Retention Policies makes sure an item is retained or deleted. Backups enables us to copy the data to a different storage infrastucture. This infrastructure is isolated and secured using different admin accounts and other security measures.
Mistakes could cause retenion policies to get misconfigured and actuallt delete data, without any way to get data back (anyone remember this incident reported in the news?). Hackers and ransomware could cause huge headache since getting data back that is on hold using Retention Policy is not easy – if the retention policies are still even intact. One example we’ve seen is that Ransomware not only deletes data, it also empties the Recycle Bin, removes all previous versions of the file etc.
So in the end – we argue you need both – Retention Policies and 3rd party Microsoft 365 Backup, both used for different purposes.
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