Updated On: July 16, 2023

Office 365 – A Business Necessity but Demands Data Security

Office 365 is a software as a service (SaaS) solution by Microsoft. It includes all MS office services along with several other utilities such as email files and collaborative services from the Microsoft cloud services. It is a comprehensive set of tools and services which facilitate many documentation, communication, and management related tasks. Besides internet connection and web browser, the user does not need any sort of integration and installation. Microsoft Office 365 suite includes many applications and online services, such as MS Office Professional Plus, SharePoint Online, Lync Online and Exchange Online.


Since inception, its usage has seen the whopping growth of 56.3% and it is now the most popular business productivity suite. Owing to its popularity, just imagine how unjust it will be if the user’s data will stand unrecoverable. In today’s age, no one can predict the forthcoming calamity. Moreover, confidential business data adds to this fear and therefore demands a rescue plan. Other than a contagious backup plan, what else can be a good rescue plan? A perfectly planned backup solution can save businesses from the worry of data loss. Furthermore, when it comes to the most popular business productivity suite, the need for such backup increases manifold.

Why Should Office 365 be Backed Up?

In this time of data vulnerabilities, the backup industry is booming. Everyone needs them because everyone cares for their data and don’t want to come across any data loss situation. In such a situation, it seems quite absurd when someone says that Office 365 is handy enough to prepare backups on its own. From their advocacy, it seems as Office 365 does not need any sort of backups. But in reality, it is not true. Office 365 does need a contagious backup and restore strategy.

Although Office 365 does offer some basic form of data protection, it isn’t just to say that the user’s data will be unharmed with this inbuilt protection. There are many things from which it is quite clear that the user’s Office 365 data isn’t protected. If someone still proponent its intensive protection even then restoration time will be so intensive that ultimately user has to opt for some third-party Office 365 backup solution.

The foremost reason for which Office 365 should be backed up by some third-party backup tool lies in the classic 3-2-1 rule of the backup. This rule suggests that there should be three different copies of the subjected data on two different locations. Out of these two locations, one location must be an off-site location so as to ensure full data security. Building backups on Office 365 would violate this classic backup rule. It would be like backing up the vulnerable data on some other segment of the same hard drive.

It will be quite astonishing to know that, even Microsoft agrees to it and recommends its users to not rely on their data protection measures. In clause 6 (b) of service agreement for Office 365, Microsoft exclusively recommends the user to prepare third party backups and not to rely solely on their online data protection services. It is worthy to note that why did Microsoft warn their user about this probability? Obviously, they said so because they knew that there are many ways to disrupt data protection.

Consider the situation where the user has accidentally deleted the email or any SharePoint or OneDrive file. Although the user may be able to recover that deleted item within the stipulated time, which normally is fourteen days, but what if he noticed this after the conclusion of that stipulated time?

The user will be lucky if he’ll track down such accidental deletion within the stipulated time. In this situation, he’ll just need to locate that file from the recycle bin and recover it before the expiration time. This expiration policy is also known as the Office 365’s retention policy.
Moreover, what would happen if some sort of malware deletes the user’s file and the user does not often use that file? Obviously in such a situation user won’t notice if the file has been deleted or stolen. Furthermore, in this negligence, if the retention period has elapsed, then the user won’t be able to retrieve the file when required. This is where backup for Office lags and this is also a prime reason for which there is a need to adopt a third-party backup solution.

On the contrary, third party backup solutions allow the Office 365 users to retrieve stolen or lost data for as many times as they want. The user can retrieve the entire folder to a point in time, irrespective of the data volume. It doesn’t matter if the backup is of one thousand files or of a few hundred files, data will always be available to the user as long as he/she retains subscription.

To counter this shortcoming, SharePoint backup strategy and OneDrive offers file versioning so as to protect users against accidental deletion of the file. With this, Office 365 offers 500 versions policy. According to this policy, the user can retrieve one particular file, up to its 500 versions. Furthermore, the user can also enhance or decrease the number of versions. For instance, in lieu of storage shortage, the user says that multiple editing of one file would not reach up to 500 versions. So, the user can reduce this number as per his/her choice.
Even though Office 365 tried to compensate for its shortcomings, but still it can easily be exploited by the malware. Malware is capable enough to either encrypt or change important files for the times more than the user’s set number of versioning. Once that set threshold of file versioning gets crossed, the user won’t be able to retrieve the lost or encrypted file. This loophole can prove to be disastrous, especially for businesses. It does not guarantee full protection to their confidential spreadsheets, product reports and important financial statements.

Third-Party Backup Solutions for Office 365

The foremost feature of Office 365 is that it took Microsoft Office to the cloud. But with such marvelous features, there exist many shortcomings. Microsoft’s retention policy is the biggest shortcoming. Retention policy lacks the daily backup, which makes it quite hard for the user to retrieve deleted files. By default, the retention period is set at 14 days but the user can modify it. But still, users can go to a maximum of 30 days.

However, there is a way to overcome this shortcoming. In order to secure Office 365 mailbox items such as e-mails, calendars and contacts, there is a need to build third-party backup solutions.

Following are some of the well-known third-party backup solutions for MS Office 365:

SysTools Office 365 Backup and Restore Software

It is well-known as the effective Office 365 backup and restoration solution. The software can backup the entire Office 365 directory and can easily restore them to Office 365 tenant when required. The software has a free demo version for prospective clients. Salient features of SysTools Office 365 Backup and Restore Software are:

  • It can backup the MS Office 365 in the EML/PST/EMLX/MSG/MBOX format
  • Users are at the liberty to use their own naming convention during the export process
  • In order to ease the process of backup and restoration, users can apply multiple filters such as date or any specific email subject.
  • It offers a single-click solution to the user to import outlook files in the “.pst” format to Office 365.
  • An administrator can backup multiple user accounts through the impersonation feature.
  • Users can preview the entire directory prior to the initiation of the import/export process.
  • Both MAC and Windows operating systems support this backup software.
  • Even deleted mailbox items in Office 365 can be restored.

Veeam Backup for MS Office 365

Veeam Backup is an excellent utility to save users from any probability of data loss. It backup complete Office 365 exchange online data on the cloud and makes sure that users’ data will always remain available to them. The software also offers a free demo version. Salient features of Veeam Backup are:

  • It can backup the entire Office 365 on the cloud
  • Backup and restoration time is very less
  • It can import multiple PST files into the Office 365 mailbox
  • It can also backup and restore Office 365’s mailboxes into the PST format.
  • The backup process is automatic, so the user does not have to worry about the backup frequency
  • Despite deletion, the user can still recover Office 365 mailboxes

Code Two Backup for Office 365

This handy backup solution lets the user perform granular backups of the Office 365’s mailboxes along with the backup of public folders. With their advanced search option, the user can select those folders and Office 365’s mailboxes, which they want to backup or restore. This selection can start from the selection of certain contacts to different email folders as well as single attachments and messages. For the convenience of the prospective

clients, this software can be used on a trial basis. Salient features of Code Two backups include:

Code Two Backup for Office 365

This handy backup solution lets the user perform granular backups of the Office 365’s mailboxes along with the backup of public folders. With their advanced search option, the user can select those folders and Office 365’s mailboxes, which they want to backup or restore. This selection can start from the selection of certain contacts to different email folders as well as single attachments and messages. For the convenience of the prospective

clients, this software can be used on a trial basis. Salient features of Code Two backups include:

  • Prepare backups of Office 365 in the PST format.
  • Upon full backup, there will be continuous incremental Office 365 backups.
  • Seamless backup process.
  • User has the option to run backup either on automatic schedules or run them on demand
  • Central control to administer the Office 365’s backups from one central location

Spanning Backup for Office 365

It is a cloud-based backup software for Office 365. Through this software, the user can back up the entire Office 365 data, such as Office 365 e-mail, calendar, and OneDrive, to the cloud. Even if the user accidentally deletes any important file, still user can retrieve that file without any delay. Spanning backup is available in the trial period to let users familiarize themselves with the software. Salient features of the spanning backup include:

  • This software has the ability to backup and restore Office 365 data
  • It can backup Office 365 e-mails, calendars, contacts, SharePoint and OneDrive data.
  • Apart from the backups, this software even logs the administrator’s activities.
  • User has access to the backup snapshots and therefore data can be restored individually
  • It has a simple interface that makes it easier for the user to navigate through the software.
  • It offers unlimited backup storage capacity for Office 365.

Cloudy Office 365 Exchange Backup

This software is handy enough to handle the Office 365 backup tasks. It can backup data of Contact, Calendar, Task and Mail. The software gives the administrator a right to allow backup for either all users or selected users. The software has the option to activate granular restores of Office 365’s data. During non-destructive restoration mode, the user can either restore the data on the same machine or to some other device. However, there is a condition that if restoration is to be made on another device, then that device should be listed in the targeted field. Upon buying the one-year subscription, the user gets the two months trial period.

Final Note

Office 365 is a perfect business productive suite and this popularity can easily be supported with the whopping growth of about 56%. From managing the important business documents to their online access, this is all that a perfect business suite should have. But the only place where Office 365 lags is its unreliable backup strategy. Though Office 365 backs up the user’s important data such as mails, important office documents, schedules in the calendar and business contacts in the contacts, but retention policy makes these backups unreliable. In such scenarios, integration of Office 365 with the third-party backup solutions is mandatory. With this integration, businesses can stay assure that irrespective of the retention policy, they will always have access to their data in case any unfortunate event happens

Saaher Muzafer / CEO Backup Everything
Saaher Muzafer / CEO Backup Everything

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