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CloudAlly Backup versus Exchange Online Archiving

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Exchange Online Archiving Vs CloudAlly Online Backup with Amazon AWS

In this article we will compare two methods to backup and protect Office 365 data: Microsoft Exchange Online Archiving (EOA) and CloudAlly.

It is important to understand the key differences between these two Office 365 backup options and to know whether they can suffice individually or need to be used together.

Things to Look for in an Office 365 Data Protection Plan

In order to compare CloudAlly and EOA, we first need to understand what should be considered while choosing a suitable data protection service or tool for Office 365 Exchange Online.

The service should be able to retain (on a long-term basis) and preserve data for legal, compliance and archiving challenges.

It should also be able to search and retrieve the data online, namely eDiscovery. The data backup or protection tool should furthermore be able to access the data and carry out a point-in-time restore or recovery of the data for business continuity.

You may argue that recycle bins, which contain deleted items as well as recoverable items, support the recovery of deleted data.

However, these bins only help for a limited period of time and do not support long-term data retention, point-in-time recovery and data preservation.

Exchange Online Archiving

EOA is a cloud-based archiving solution that enables your enterprise to address compliance, legal, archiving and eDiscovery challenges for Office 365 data.

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It is hosted on Microsoft globally redundant servers and offers compatibility with Exchange Server 2010, 2013 and 2016. What is more, it is also available as an add-on for online hosted mailboxes.

Detailed Features and Benefits

EOA offers security and reliability features for retaining and preserving emails, complying with the law and your enterprise’s policy for eDiscovery and litigation.

In-Place Archive

This feature gives all the Office 365 users in your company a native and seamlessly integrated experience to retain or keep all your email data in one place.

It provides a separate mailbox, or archive mailbox, to store all such historical email messages. This mailbox has its own recoverable items folder for deleted emails.

You can manually move or even copy the relevant mails from a primary mailbox folder to an archive mailbox folder.

Alternatively, you can use the inbox rules to automatically move or copy emails to the archive mailbox. You can even use the retention policies to move the emails.

This “in-place archiving” feature can be activated for every user. It can also have an unlimited storage limit (as per the Office 365 E3 plan) or a limit of up to 50 GB (which, in itself, is quite sufficient on an individual user level).

When this limit is reached, the users need to delete the archived items to ensure that the archiving activity resumes again.

In-Place Hold

This functionality, which is also known as the litigation hold, enables you to immutably preserve and hold electronically stored user information for discovery at a later point in time. It prevents your users from modifying or deleting the data on which the hold is placed.

The litigation hold, as available with Exchange 2010, places the hold on all the user mailbox data indefinitely or until the hold is removed.

The in-place hold, as available for Exchange 2013, works better because it does not hold the entire mailbox indefinitely. Instead, it allows you to place the hold on specific data and for a specific period of time. It is thus a time-based hold.

If you do not specify the end date for the in-place hold, it holds the data indefinitely. It is then an indefinite hold.

You can also place a hold (query-based hold) on the desired items that match specific parameters, such as dates, keywords, and sender or recipient addresses.

For both these types of holds, the recoverable items folder is used to preserve the mailbox items. They use a versioning process to maintain the history of the data for cases when the data is changed.

The storage limit for the recoverable items folder is 100 GB, because the items are preserved here indefinitely or until the hold period expires.

Your Office 365 users will not be able to permanently delete any items, empty the deleted items folder or use the versioning process, if the folder storage limit is reached.

So, you may get your held mailbox limit increased through the Office 365 support team.

In-Place eDiscovery

This enables you to search, produce and even manage across your organization through an easy-to-use web interface.

In simple terms, it helps you search your primary inbox items as well as the archive mailbox items for Mails, Calendars, Tasks, Contacts, Attachments, and so on.

The results of the search can be copied to the discovery mailbox. Alternatively, these results can be exported in the .pst format for compatibility with Microsoft Outlook.


The full functionality of the EOA is available with the Exchange Online Plan 2 and Office 365 Enterprise Plan E3.

For all other Exchange Online plans or Office 365 enterprise plans, the EOA features are available at $3 per month for each user.


Both the in-place hold and in-place archiving functions cease to work once the storage quota of the mailboxes is reached. Furthermore, there is no provision for unlimited storage. Moreover, both these features have to be activated for each user, which is a cumbersome task.



CloudAlly is a cloud-based data backup service. It offers automated daily backups of not only Office 365 data, but also for SharePoint, OneDrive, Google Apps, Salesforce and others to unlimited Amazon secure storage, unlike exchange online archiving.

It is a comprehensive backup and recovery service for Office 365 Exchange Online data.

Detailed Features and Benefits

It supports business continuity through point-in-time recovery of data that has been lost or even corrupted.

CloudAlly also takes care of the operational requirements for the recovery of data that is corrupted or destroyed through an accident or through malicious or virus attacks.


CloudAlly has no storage limitation and offers unlimited retention of daily archives. This enables backups on a daily basis and helps to considerably reduce the on-premises storage requirements.

The backed up data is furthermore encrypted every day and stored on Amazon Web Services (AWS) S3 storage. Every backup that is made, using CloudAlly, is a point-in-time snapshot of the relevant data.

You are capable of controlling all your backups from a single management console. This saves a lot of time for your enterprise since it does away with the admin processes that require plenty of manual effort.

The Office 365 users in your company also do not have access to the CloudAlly backups because they are entirely maintained by the administrators.

It is thus possible to activate the backups not only for individual users, but also for all the users. New users can then be activated for the backups by using the auto-detect feature.


If there is a requirement to restore any data at an individual item level or even at a higher level (folder, mailbox, and so on), it is possible to search your CloudAlly backups.

The restored data gets stored in a sub-folder named “CloudAlly Restore” with a date and time stamp. The data can then be restored directly to the user’s account.

It is even possible to restore it back to a different user account, if such a need arises.


With CloudAlly, you can export the backed up data in various industry standard formats, including .vcf and .eml.

You can even do the data export in the .pst format, which is compatible with Microsoft Outlook, which is the most common email platform used in enterprises.

In a nutshell, CloudAlly backs up, restores and exports data (Mails, Tasks, Calendars, Contacts, and more.) in its entirety.

It even extends this functionality to OneDrive data and SharePoint data. Moreover, it helps to recover data from any point in time by using a non-destructive restore. And, it offers unlimited retention and storage of all backups.

Furthermore, CloudAlly adheres to data security and customer confidentiality best practices, as it is HIPAA compliant and ISO 27001 certified.

You also get the option to select servers based in the US (by default), EU or Australia.


You can avail the Office 365 backup services from CloudAlly at a rate of $3 per month (or $30 annually) per user and less.

For every 5 GB of OneDrive or SharePoint data, you can use these services at $2 per month (or $20 per year) and less. You can even get additional discounts if you run an academic or non-profit organization or perhaps if you deal in volumes as a partner.


CloudAlly cannot completely handle eDiscovery requirements for the appropriate search and retrieval of data.

However, it is working towards adding this functionality in its entirety. It also retains all the data and lacks any rules to retain only specific sets of data.

Moreover, no versioning is done within individual data items that are backed up chronologically.

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