Why you need to manually back up your Office 365 data

To ensure full confidence that your documents, spreadsheets, and correspondence are kept safe, dedicated non-Microsoft backups are essential. By David Friend, co-founder and CEO of cloud storage provider Wasabi.

  • 2 years ago Posted in

Over the past several years, workplaces have seen SaaS apps become essential to their workflows. This is best epitomised in the ubiquity of Office 365 in workplaces, Microsoft’s cloud-based offering which has come to supersede its previous editions of Office. Through providing cloud-enabled features like document sharing across multiple devices and real-time document collaboration, many teams find Office 365 to be an ideal standalone solution for many of their business needs. 

However, Office 365 has left many with a false sense of security regarding their data. With the system coming with its own facility to store data on Microsoft’s cloud, many teams now believe that old routines around backing up data aren’t necessary. Unfortunately, many have come to discover that this isn’t the case.

This is because while Office 365 does store data on Microsoft’s cloud, Microsoft does not offer any protection against deletion from the user’s end. That is, if your files end up being deleted from your end - whether it be accidental, intentional, or via cybersecurity threats like ransomware - you will lose it forever. In effect, this means that data backed up via Office 365’s native cloud storage isn’t really “backed up” at all when it comes to the more common causes of data loss such as human error or sabotage.

Should you backup on-premises?

If you want to protect your files from problems that aren’t on Microsoft’s end, then, you can’t rely on Office 365’s own backup facility. Instead, to protect your files against ransomware, accidents, or sabotage you’ll need to adopt your own complementary backup solution.

At first, it might be enticing to backup your Office 365 files on-premises, since there’s already a live copy of your data in Microsoft’s cloud. However, you will then have to overcome the challenge of having to sync up your on-prem backups regularly with your live Office 365 data - as your business produces more and more data, this means a hefty investment of time and resources in configuring your on-prem storage solution.

Storing data on-premises also will leave you vulnerable to those same risks that you face by just relying on Microsoft’s cloud for backups. Your on-prem storage remains vulnerable to accidents, misconfigurations, sabotage, and malware that can destroy your backups and leave you with no avenues to restore your data. Rather, you should embrace a solution that offsets all these risks.

Backing up Office 365 data in the cloud

Cloud storage is much easier to set up and far less risk-prone than backing up Office 365 data on-premise, along with coming with notable economic benefits. Through the economies of scale offered by cloud vendors, cloud storage will almost always prove cheaper than on-premise alternatives for any given storage requirement. They apply to expertise and process too, with setup and configuration for a cloud storage environment being cheap, quick, and with the vendor handling most of the technical detail.

A major boon from cloud storage is that it provides distance between you and your backups. This “air-gapping” between your daily business operations and your backups can radically reduce the risk of accidental or intentional destruction of your files and data, which alongside the fact you can tailor access permissions to your backups means you should have an unparalleled degree of confidence in the safety of your data.

Cloud storage often performs far better when it comes to enabling 24/7 access to your data as well, whilst at the same time ensuring durability against degradation or bit rot. Most providers are willing and able to store multiple copies of your data across their data centres, which means that it’s highly unlikely that your backups become unavailable due to downtime at any one data centre and that you have ample redundancy in case one copy of your data is corrupted.

Finally, cloud providers can also offer you storage and security options that aren’t possible for your team to implement on-premise. One prominent example of this is data immutability, which serves to prevent anyone from altering a designated set of files: for the duration in which data immutability is applied to file sets, those files cannot be overwritten, changed, or deleted. This means that in the unlikely event that a ransomware operator or hacker were to obtain your cloud storage login credentials, they wouldn’t be able to destroy your backups.  

For many today, Office 365 is their productivity tool of choice and is truly ubiquitous. Despite its impressive functionality and Microsoft’s live backups, however, Office 365 is not immune to many of the old concerns that prompted teams to back up their files in the first place. To ensure full confidence that your documents, spreadsheets, and correspondence are kept safe, dedicated non-Microsoft backups are essential. Implementing a separate cloud backup strategy using dedicated, modern, and secure cloud storage providers will enable you to give your team peace of mind when it comes to the safety of their data.

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