Does office 365 backup your data?

Office 365 Backup – Why Isn’t it Already Included?

Does office 365 backup your data?

It’s no secret that IT managers, CIOs, and business owners are moving in droves to the cloud over the past year, and organizations such as Does office 365 backup your dataMicrosoft, Google, Salesforce are seeing a significant upward trend in the volume of businesses, migrating from on-premises Exchange environments to Office 365 online, G Suite, etc. So, is your data backed up by office 365? This is what we intend to find out in this blog post.


What this article is about:


Why should IT managers move to the cloud?

IT managers who used to manage a ‘server closet’ have now freed that space, and instead of upgrading, maintaining, supporting technical problems with hardware, they now can focus their energy on supporting the business needs of the employee. This move from on-premise to cloud makes absolute sense. When it comes to emails, files, storage, messaging, there’s hardly any difference (in terms of business value and competitiveness) if you manage them in-house yourself or consume the business solutions as a service.

This is all true except for one particular part of On-premise Vs Cloud; the difference is in: Backup & Restore, in particular Office 365 backup, G Suite Backup, and such.

So what is the classic definition of a backup: Backup: Copies all data and data files that have changed since the last full backup.

However, to achieve true DR (disaster recovery) the backup data center needs to be separate from the original data source, and the copy of the file, email, etc needs to be stored so that if the original system or service is unavailable, it can replace it.

Some IT managers still use a standard on-premises enterprise estate, with MS Exchange. Some have tape, or disk backup as a solution, keeping data anywhere from 1-6 years. There are those CIOs who choose not to delete any information, and keep it on LTO2 tape drive, and old company servers in-office. Not moving to cloud does have its disadvantages, as all this information can be placed at risk in case of fire, theft, and damage. Some countries have regulatory needs in terms of Data Backups, and it’s becoming more and more difficult to secure historical servers against data breaches.

Why do IT managers need to backup their Office 365 data?

Let’s be clear, backup is not free. So why allocate budget expenditure to backing up these business solutions? The simple answer to this question is that we need to be able to restore from any point in time, with an unlimited retention period. It’s all about being able to restore! CIOs need to be able to restore quickly and easily a whole business solution, or individual emails. This is critical to business continuity, and growth.

Why is there a scenario in which a restore is needed?

An IT admin might be required to restore data because a user, an employee has left the company and deleted his/hers emails, Salesforce leads/contacts, data files, and other information necessary for the new employee on-boarding the company in that specific job role.

In other actual situations, an employee might have deleted this data intentionally, or even accidentally, maliciously… in which case the burden of restore falls on the IT department.

Other more problematic situations are when the IT department faces a malicious malware virus, or ransomware is used by an external hacker. This is where cloud backup comes into play, as the IT admin restores the data back to a point in time, before the hack took place. Such Ransomware attacks are likely to compromise the company SharePoint/OneDrive data, and Microsoft restore capabilities do not address this need.

It’s necessary to recall that Microsoft deleted data retention periods are very short – about 90 days – and incomplete… because instances such as Azure server outages have occurred in the past, which again halt business activity. If cloud to cloud backup is in place, the IT admin is able to restore from Amazon AWS data center using applications such as CloudAlly, but only if the company CIO understood the value of backup and subscribed to it from www.CloudAlly.com

What about the cost of backup?

If we examine Microsoft Office 365, E3… per user/month, it costs about $25-30? This cost contains a backup for 90 odd days, so once you’ve deleted your items from both your inbox and the Deleted Items folder, what happens next when you need to restore.

Office 365 Restore

However, if we look at backing up Office 365 Exchange; with a backup scope of Mail, Calendar, Contacts and Tasks. And, this includes the following backup features: backup all or selected users, backup Office 365 Exchanges, and also automatically detect new users. What does this all cost to the organization? The backup cost is $30 per user/year.

The cost for backup is further reduced in companies with over 100 employees, or for those CIOs who use a bundle backup for multiple services. The opportunity cost of not backing up is sheer folly .. risking business assets, which can be made secure and safe.

Recovery procedure in Microsoft Office 365

Use the recoverable Items folder which holds items up to 30 days (14 days is the default state). Items which remain in the folder longer than 30 days are lost, forever … without any way to recover them. (But, it’s possible to purge your own Recoverable Items folder at any time.)

There are IT managers which are adamant that Microsoft has thought about all this, and provides cloud backup, after they have migrated to cloud. This is partly true in fact, Microsoft’s reply to this situation is a Litigation Hold. This feature copies all the e-mails into an immutable area (hidden from users in Recoverable Items). Also, there is also an In-Place Hold option; but gradually Microsoft is phasing it out. Some IT managers have already been informed of this.

If In-Place Hold wasn’t phased out, the IT managers options weren’t so limited, Litigation Hold doesn’t support public folders, like In-Place Hold. So, eventually if its needed to backup public folders, there is no other way but to adopt a 3rd party solution like CloudAlly.com

*Microsoft Website Note on Litigation Hold and In-Place Hold:
06/24/2019

We’ve postponed the July 1, 2017 deadline for creating new In-Place Holds in Exchange Online (in Office 365 and Exchange Online standalone plans). But later this year or early next year, you won’t be able to create new In-Place Holds in Exchange Online. As an alternative to using In-Place Holds, you can use eDiscovery cases or Office 365 retention policies in the Office 365 Security & Compliance Center. After we decommission new In-Place Holds, you’ll still be able to modify existing In-Place Holds, and creating new In-Place Holds in an Exchange hybrid deployment will still be supported. And, you’ll still be able to place mailboxes on Litigation Hold.

In any case using litigation hold as a backup creates more legal risk by exposing all company data to eDiscovery rather than only those items that really require litigation hold.

Knowledgeable IT admins, as a process of securing the data, require a separation of roles. This is done so that O365 administrators could assign themselves eDiscovery Manager rights, and gain full access to search and export from Exchange mailboxes, SharePoint folders, and OneDrive folders. And, also change the Litigation Hold policies.

This is exactly why 3rd party cloud backup solutions become useful when integrated with O365. The CloudAlly solution includes role-based access control, which assists organizations to comply with the regional data protection laws, while also allowing a different admin to control the rights to restore.

To conclude; the proficient Chief Information Officer, knows that an independent online 3rd party backup, is the correct policy in organizations using cloud solutions. Some of them started to backup their Office 365 with a Free 14 day trial.


Now that you know about that Office 365 doesn’t fully backup your data, you might want to have a look at what we created for you…

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Cloud Backup For Higher Education

Backup for Salesforce and Office 365 Solution Gives IBA Conviction in the Cloud

Sean Bates the former ICT Manager, Australian Institute of Business (AIB), understood that securing data on cloud, for the higher education organisation he worked for was paramount.

Using powerful business solutions like Microsoft Office 365 and Salesforce.com can pose significant data protection challenges for an organization.  While Microsoft provides every precaution possible to safeguard their clients business data, it’s indeed very difficult for Microsoft to administer and supervise occurrences on the customer side, like accidental & malicious deletion.  The enormous risks in data loss on  cloud applications are tremendous, but can be minimized greatly with cloud to cloud backup.

AIB ICT manager recognized the possible issues & problems and adopted backup as an imperative organisation task, so that all relevant data records, intellectual property, sales information, research, and general communication would remain safe & secure, (and available to restore from any point-in-time).

View the complete customer story…

to learn why this upstanding higher educational institution chose CloudAlly for its cloud to cloud backup & restore needs.  Read about the reasons CloudAlly was chosen to provide this backup, its excellent customer support, and learn how and why the experts choose CloudAlly for backup on the cloud, to safeguard against data loss.

 

 

 

Office 365 Features & Benefits

10 new Office 365 Features and Benefits for businesses today.

office 365 features and benefits

Microsoft Office 365 is an incredible productivity suite in the cloud that integrates all of Microsoft’s most well-known applications —Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, Sway, and Access— into a cloud service. As a user, you’ll discover many Office 365 features and benefits that can enhance your office environment. So, it should be no surprise that Office 365 has more than 25 million consumer subscriptions.

The problem is that too few users know how to use Office 365 to its full potential. Instead, most of the time, they use the same applications, day in and day out, without ever exploring all the different features, benefits, and new updates that are available.

To help you out and to provide your team with the best in productivity and collaboration, we’ve collected our list of favorite Office 365 features and benefits that you need to be using. These features will improve your workflow, optimize your team, and streamline how you get things done.


What this article is about:


Top 10 Office 365 Features and Benefits

Office 365 has many business applications, features, and benefits that you either might not be aware of or you might not be using to their full capability. To ensure you’re not missing out, here are our top ten must-use features for Office 365.

1. Mobile Apps

If you’re not using Office 365 on your phone, you should be. When you purchase Office 365, you also gain access to its mobile apps and browser apps, which means you can access Office 365 in the cloud on your mobile device and on the go. Better yet, you do not have to download Office software on your computer to gain this access.

All you need to do to access Office 365 on your phone or tablet is to download the Microsoft Office 365 mobile app. After that, you’ll have access to all of your Office 365 features and subscriptions on your mobile device. This means you’ll be able to use Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and more without your PC.

2. Real-Time Editing and Co-Authoring

Office 365 is made to be a collaborative environment for your office, and that means you need multiple ways to interact with your team. One way to collaborate online with your team is to create shared documents within your Office apps.

  1. First, save your Word file to OneDrive cloud storage or SharePoint.
  2. Second, give your team access to the document.

From there, your team can co-author the document in real-time, make edits, and introduce updates for all team members. There’s even an option to share Word document access directly through the integrated sidebar.

The best part is that you have complete control over who can access and edit the document at any time. This means, as a publisher, you can quickly share access and take it away as needed.

You can also see changes as they are made to your document and have the edits highlighted by contributor. This way, you know what each member of your team has added or removed and can accept the new updates or revert to a previous version of the file as needed.

3. Connect Via Skype

If you want even better ways to communicate with your team, there’s an Office 365 feature that can help. All Office 365 applications include a Skype in-app integration. This means you can quickly and easily instant message your teammates, share screens, or start an audio/visual conversation. All without ever having to close the Office app or change screens.

The good news is that your Skype call won’t end when the Office 365 app closes either. Your Skype conversation will continue until you’re ready to end the call, and it includes unlimited Skype minutes. Learn more about Office 365 and Skype here.

4. Avoid Email Attachments

Have you ever sent an email and forgotten the attachment? It happens more often than we realize. Thankfully, one of the latest Office 365 feature updates was to make it possible to share links instead of files. This way you never have to email an attachment again.

Instead, all you need to do is upload your file to Office 365’s cloud storage. Then, send an email via Outlook or the Outlook web app. And instead of attaching the document or file you need to share, insert the link for the file on your cloud. This way your email recipient will have the ability to access, edit, and update the file in real-time without needing to send another version back to you.

5. Create Outlook Calendar Events Easily

If you use OneNote, you know that one thing that would be invaluable is to be able to quickly transform tasks into due dates on your Outlook calendar. You can do that easily in Office 365. Simply configure OneNote items to become tasks in your calendar and then assign that task to the appropriate colleague, add a follow-up reminder, or set a due date.

There’s also an Office 365 feature that allows you to transfer meeting notes from OneNote to your teammates via email. This way you ensure everyone is on the same page.

6. PowerPoint Laser Pointer

With the simple keyboard shortcut (Ctrl + P), you can transform your mouse into a laser pointer for your PowerPoint presentation. This has been a nifty trick for years, but was only recently introduced to touch-screen devices as part of the latest Office 365 feature updates. The good news is that you can use the laser pointer even in “presenter mode.”

7. PDF Conversion & Editing

Every business has to use PDFs on a regular basis. Thankfully, the latest version of Office 365 makes it easier than ever to edit and convert PDFs directly within Office 365. This feature is incredibly intuitive and streamlined. All you have to do to edit a PDF is convert it into a Word document and then voila! Or you can simply save a Word document as a PDF, and you’re set. Learn more here.

8. Quick Email Reply

What if you could quickly reply to emails based on the subject line without ever having to open up the email? When you enable Reading Pane in Outlook this is possible. This Office 365 feature allows you to preview the email and hit “reply” without leaving the main Outlook window. When you combine this with the Conversations view, you should be able to quickly and easily see, at a glance, what emails you’ve read and responded to.

9. Office 365 Planner

Keep your team organized and ensure the workflow stays on target with the new Office 365 Planner feature. This feature provides a visual overview of your workflow, so you can more easily organize your team’s efforts. It makes it simple to create game plans, assign tasks, follow-up on to-dos, establish due dates, provide updates, and share files all within an easy-to-use dashboard. Teammates can even set up email alerts for updates to the Planner.

10. Self-Cleaning Smart Inbox

We all get cluttered email inboxes, but the new Microsoft Office 365 Clutter feature helps you clean up your inbox fast. Just set up mailbox rules to automatically list high-priority messages first and to remove low-priority messages to your “clutter” folder to be taken care of later.

New: Office 365 Feature Updates

There are also a few new Office 365 feature updates that we love and will be coming soon.

Other Office 365 feature updates include an upcoming automated transcription service for video and audio files. This will be valuable for webinars and tutorials and will be compatible with over 320 file types.

Final Thoughts

Office 365 has many incredible features and benefits to improve productivity at your office. Just be sure that you know what you’re doing and using it to its full capabilities. Also, because it’s so valuable, make sure you always backup office 365 with a cloud-to-cloud backup and recovery software such as CloudAlly… Start to backup your Office 365 with a Free 14 day trial.


Now that you know about the top 10 new office 365 Features and their benefits, you might want to have a look at what we created for you…

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Canadian Office 365 Backup & Restore Solution

Canadian Office 365 BackupBacking up in Canada with Amazon AWS Data Centers

Microsoft Office 365 is a powerful business tool used by many companies throughout Canada. It helps boost productivity with reliable access to email, calendar, file sharing, online conferencing, instant messaging, and Office applications. It gives businesses the ability to work from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection, because it’s entirely cloud-based.

Unfortunately, many Canadian businesses don’t realize that Microsoft Office 365 backup is fairly limited and leaves you open to data loss due to user error, malicious deletion, and data corruption.

The Need for Office 365 Backup

The reality is that Microsoft Exchange Online Archiving for Office 365 is NOT a real backup solution.

Exchange Online mailbox is auto-set for 14-day retention of deleted items. After this point, the recycle bin is permanently emptied, and you cannot recover data that has been accidentally or maliciously deleted. If you think ahead, you can extend your administrative recovery period to 30 days in Office 365, but there is no option for recovery beyond 30 days unless you sign up for a third-party Office 365 backup service.

Another issue with the basic Exchange Online Office 365 backup is that point-in-time restoration is out of scope. Exchange Online Archiving offers an eDiscovery service for litigation purposes, but that’s limited to pulling up a single message that’s been purged, not replicating an entire mailbox database.

Finally, Office 365 does not protect you from hackers or viruses that take control of your data or delete information. While it offers anti-spam and anti-malware protection, you still need to run your own antivirus programs and have a third-party Office 365 backup solution in place to protect your data if the worst should happen.

That’s why you need a 3rd party backup and restore solution.

Complete Office 365 Backup

CloudAlly’s Office 365 backup is a cloud-to-cloud solution that offers simple, automated, and secure backups of all your data including emails, calendars, contacts, and tasks. It’s a  3rd Party secure backup that allows you to access your data when you need it, no matter what.

When you choose CloudAlly for your Office 365 backup solution, all activity including logins, backups, restores, etc. is logged and available on your CloudAlly account. And, by default, you’ll receive a daily backup email summary that ensures all your data is available. In addition, you have the option of making on-demand backups of any mailbox as needed, whether you’re off-boarding an employee or just worried about saving your data for migration.

Best yet, because CloudAlly uses AWS datacenters, you can choose to store your backups wherever makes the most sense for you.

CloudAlly Uses Canada Data Center AWS

For Canadian businesses, CloudAlly is the ONLY third-party Office 365 backup solution that uses a Canada Data Center AWS . There are only two available centers Hence, full compliance with Canadian regulations is achieved.

CloudAlly’s access to an AWS Canadian data centers means that not only do you get the opportunity to store your data locally, but you’ll also be better equipped to address Canadian data compliance requirements in the financial and public sector. This translates to huge costs savings when it comes to data management as well as regional security needs.

Storing your data locally also means quicker time-to-market, increased business agility, and greater flexibility. With a Canada Data Center AWS, you’ll recognize improved data performance from having a closer public entry-point and an optimized local network.

And by using a Canadian AWS data center, CloudAlly offers the best in cloud security. Amazon S3 secure storage comes with unlimited archive retention and storage, and it meets Canadian PIPEDA regulations along with HIPAA certifications, BAA agreements, and ISO 27001 security.

If you use the cloud in the Canada region, you’ll greatly benefit from data storage on local servers and network architecture. The Canada data center AWS was built to meet the requirements of Canadian customers and is recognized as one of the cloud leaders in Canada. That’s why CloudAlly is proud to be the only third-party backup solution to own and run our local backup here.

Microsoft Cloud Backup & Data Recovery

Cloud Backup for Microsoft with CloudAlly: A beginner’s guide

microsoft cloud backup solutions

Microsoft Office 365 Exchange has undoubtedly proven itself to be an amazing tool for small businesses and large enterprises alike. And yet, the computing behemoth still has limitations when it comes to data backup (Microsoft cloud backup). Like most systems, Microsoft Office 365 Exchange backup only backs up information to a certain point and after that point, it becomes unrecoverable.

 


What this article is about:


Where Microsoft data recovery ends, cloud-to-cloud backup solutions take over, offering virtually limitless cloud backup storage so that data that can be recovered from any point in time.

Why you might need Microsoft cloud backup solutions

Although cloud-based, Microsoft Office 365 Exchange does not give you limitless backup storage. Once a file has been moved into and then out of the recycling bin — whether automatically or manually — recovery becomes much more difficult; bordering on impossible. Office 365 lacks the daily backup and archiving functionality required to fully access lost data once it has been removed from your recycling bin.

While you may be extremely careful about the data you decide to delete, there are other ways you can permanently lose it, like:

  • malicious activity by hackers
  • disgruntled employees
  • corruption through third party app synchronization gone awry
  • employee error

Unfortunately, because Microsoft Office 365 Exchange is not set up for daily cloud backups, that means these unexpected data losses may be irreversible.

Office 365 Exchange emails are especially susceptible to being lost. You can set a time limit for your Recoverable Items folder in Outlook to a maximum of 30 days, but after that, there is little hope of data recovery.

According to Microsoft’s customer facing technical help documents on its website: “Point in time restoration of mailbox items is out of the scope of the Exchange service.”

If you need to locate a deleted email from three months ago, you will be out of luck with the default Office 365 Exchange backup and recovery capabilities. It pays to add a specialized third-party Microsoft cloud backup service to keep your data safe.

How CloudAlly Microsoft cloud backup and data recovery works

Once you set up your backups (more on that below), CloudAlly takes all that information, timestamps it and puts it in a secure Amazon S3 bucket for quick and easy retrieval. You can now easily restore data from the backups by specific date, keywords or search on contents.

CloudAlly provides Microsoft cloud backup and data recovery for:

  • Mail
  • Calendar
  • Contacts
  • Tasks

You can backup data for everyone in your business or for selected users. If you recruit new employees, CloudAlly is able to detect new users and automatically add them. You can also choose to add people and if you prefer, to adjust their backup requirements manually.

As a comprehensive backup and data recovery solution, CloudAlly provides unlimited storage for your information and unlimited retention of your company’s archives. This means that no piece of data will ever be lost forever. You never know when you need a piece of information, no matter how trivial it seems.

Your CloudAlly account can be easily configured to send you a daily report of what has been backed up. In addition, you can request to automatically receive a more extensive overview of what the CloudAlly service has backed up for you over time.

Being non-destructive, when you have to restore something from your backed up data, those restored files will not overwrite anything. This means that you don’t have to sacrifice current data to get back old data.

If you require a specific file, you can easily search for it via date or keyword and then restore that single file. If necessary, you can also restore entire calendars, mailboxes, folders and other items.

For in-house archiving, you can export your archived material in any of these formats:

  • EML
  • VCF
  • ICS
  • PST

Microsoft cloud backup service process

Here is the entire process for enabling the CloudAlly Microsoft Office 365 Exchange backup.

  • Login to your CloudAlly account and choose “Activate New Backup.”
  • Choose “Office 365 Exchange.”

At this point, there are two ways you can authenticate:

  • OAuth
  • Global Admin Account

Prior to authenticating, you need to make sure Application Impersonation is set up correctly. To do that, choose either “Discovery Management” or “Organization Management” to see the steps for setting up Application Impersonation.

Once you have set up your Application Impersonation, you are ready to begin. The following directions are for a Global Admin Account.

  • Enter your Microsoft Office global admin email address and password
  • Click Start

Once your email address and password have been confirmed, you will see a confirmation message pop up in the lower right-hand corner of your screen.

You can now scroll down to see all the users in your Office 365 account. You are able to backup users and any public or shared folders pertaining to that user. CloudAlly allows you to backup each user one at a time by clicking the green arrow beside each user, or you can back them all up at the same time by clicking “Activate All.”

Whether you choose to activate the backups individually or in a group, the status of the users being backed up will change from “Not Active” to “Scheduled.”

Now you can scroll down to the box titled “Select your backup preferences.”

If you want CloudAlly to automatically detect new users and add them to your list of users to backup, click the “Automatically detect and activate new account” box.

  • You can enter a Friendly Name for your scheduled backup. (This allows a customized name for the backup)
  • The Archive Location is defined when your CloudAlly account is setup and can only be changed by opening a support ticket. Supported backup locations are:
    • United States
    • Canada
    • European Union
    • Australia
  • Set the Backup Hour. Note that it is in UTC format
  • Set your Backup Frequency, choosing from:
    • Daily
    • Every three days
    • Weekly
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “Save Changes.”

This is the complete process for activating the CloudAlly Microsoft Office 365 Exchange cloud backup process. Once this is complete, the Office 365 mailboxes will be backed up based on the frequency you’ve chosen.

In addition to Office 365, CloudAlly can backup and archive your other SaaS tools, including:

  • SharePoint/OneDrive
  • G Suite
  • Salesforce
  • com
  • Dropbox

Security when using CloudAlly as a Microsoft cloud backup service

Obviously, security is of the utmost importance for any business. When you use CloudAlly as a Microsoft cloud backup service, you get a company that:

  • is ISO 27001 certified and HIPAA compliant
  • can provide a BAA Agreement on request
  • participates in the Cloud Security Alliance STAR (Security, Trust and Assurance Registry) program using CSA’s Cloud Controls Matrix (CCM)
  • uses Amazon S3 storage and encrypts the data at-rest using AES 256-bit encryption algorithms. Data is transmitted using the encrypted and secure SSL (HTTPS) protocol
  • provides a unique, securely stored encryption key and a unique S3 folder for each customer
  • uses industry standard OAuth for permission-based access when possible
  • allows for two-factor authentication to your CloudAlly account
  • deletes all your data if you decide to unsubscribe your account

Make backups a priority

We live in a data-driven world and protecting online data is more important than ever with the myriad threats facing companies from both inside and outside. One careless employee inadvertently clicking on a link in an email or entering their password in a trick website, could threaten your whole operation. You cannot afford to lose all your hard earned data.

By being proactive about data security and backing up your Office 365 Exchange accounts with a trusted Microsoft cloud backup service, you are ensuring the survival of your business in the case of disasters, hacking, corporate sabotage and any other unfortunate event that could befall your company and threaten your data.

Your employees, your customers, your shareholders and other stakeholders in your business rely on you to keep your operation running. Don’t let your business get disrupted by a loss of data. Start a 14-day free trial Start to backup your Office 365 with a Free 14 day trial.


Now that you know about the basics of Microsoft backup with CloudAlly, you might want to have a look at what we created for you…

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Office 365 Email Backup Solution

The necessity of – Office 365 email exchange backup solution for business

Exchange Online backup Software

What is the risk of email data failures & incidents;

Office 365 Email Backup Solution

We strive to limit risks in the business world which is data-driven and powered by a data-driven economy, and therefore any possibility of data loss remains a key concern and focus of business leaders and IT professionals.  While Office 365 is a robust suite of products, the exposure to data loss risk warrants a well-thought-out backup and recovery plan, and an: Office 365 email backup solution, is immensely necessary for business continuity and a significant part of a complete IT manager’s (DR) disaster recovery plan.

A countless number of research reports have shown that the majority of data losses are caused by human factors (reportedly 50-70% of all data loss incidences). This could be caused by

Office 365 Backup

accidental deletion of emails, contacts and confidential business information, or an employee with malicious intent.

Secondly, every business is subjected to the unfortunate possibility of sync errors when using 3rd party applications. Programmatic malfunctions can happen due to 3rd party integration errors, or also due to a hacker or malicious software.

Given the extent of our exposure to data-driven threats, feature-rich backup solutions are becoming a staple of modern business operations.

Exchange Online Backup

How well does Microsoft handle email backups and security issues?

Microsoft’s Office 365 remains one of the most dominant providers of productivity tools and has transitioned their business model to the SaaS world. Successfully serving a wide range of users.

To put the popularity of this suite of products into perspective, it’s estimated that Microsoft’s commercial cloud segment (Office 365, MS Azure and their customer relationship management) represents 30% of their total $110.4bn revenue in 2018.

Furthermore, a 2015 IT study conducted by Spiceworks reported that 36% of all respondents were using Office 365 and a further 23% indicated that they were considering switching to Office 365 within the next 12 months. Office 365, including email, is here to stay, expand and grow in-line with business requirements.

Given the popularity and market share of the Office 365 suite, it would be expected that Microsoft would have heavily reinvested their profits back into improving the backup and other security features. However, this is not the case!

Office 365 online and email backup software solutions

While Office 365 comes with several email backup options, we’ll demonstrate why they are not sufficient in the first place, and also how the onus of responsibility surrounding security and backups rests with the end user.

The level of security, backup options, frequency, vulnerability to threats – this all needs to be accessed by IT managers. Ultimately, it’s the IT managers, CIOs who need to take all the necessary measures to prevent email data loss, even when the data is stored in the cloud by Microsoft Office 365, SharePoint / OneDrive, or even Google G Suite.


Exchange Online & email backups: Are your emails safe?

Using Microsoft’s built-in recovery solutions is for most business situations rather suboptimal. Let’s consider the email recovery options available for your team with Office 365. Microsoft provides 3 backup folders:

  • Deleted items folder: data stays here up to and can be recovered. From here however, it can be easily manually deleted again. If this happens, data moves to the Recoverable items folder
  • Recoverable items folder: data stays here for 14 days (admin can extend this period up to 30 days) and can be recovered one by one
  • Purge folder: data stays here for the last 14 days before being permanently deleted. During this period however, only admins can use the Single Item Recovery feature via remote PowerShell to recover the lost data

While Microsoft offers (a somewhat limited) protection against lost messages and mailboxes, it doesn’t prepare users for corrupted mailboxes.  Restoring corrupted mailboxes on the server-level to a previous point in time is impossible, exposing many businesses to high-risk situations.

We can summarize the responsibilities of customers and Microsoft in this way:

Customer Responsibilities:

  • Human errors
  • Programmatic errors
  • Internal malicious damage
  • External hacking
  • Virus and malware

Microsoft responsibility:

  • Hardware failure
  • Software failure
  • Power outages
  • Natural disasters (Microsoft performs traditional backups for catastrophic events and large data loss situations)

 

Is Microsoft’s Litigation Hold a viable software backup alternative?

Litigation hold should be used to store and preserve data related to any ongoing legal action – litigation. Placing your mailbox on Litigation Hold will result in its hold and preservation together with the archive mailbox.

This remains the case also for deleted items and original versions of modified items, however, only for a specific period of time, or until they are removed from Litigation Hold.

It’s important to note that Litigation Hold is designed for e-discovery purposes, not as an alternative to backup software products. In practical terms – all data would be discoverable and unnecessary if your business actually becomes subjected to an e-discovery request.

Once placed in Litigation Hold, all emails are copied to an immutable area, hidden from users in Recoverable items. In this case, Litigation Hold doesn’t create a copy of email data in a secondary physical location. This is important if true disaster recovery is required. If you as the business owner, or IT manager needs to restore your company, users emails from any point in time, in such incidents.

In terms of recovery, mailboxes from Litigation Hold are returned in an In-Place eDiscovery in Exchange Server search, and no direct restore option is available. If you the IT manager have found this to be different we welcome your comments. As we found out users need to go through a manual recovery process. This is also the case if one employee leaves, as no cross-user restore features are available.

However, this backup solution doesn’t support public folders and it’s inefficient against Malware, where the IT manager would need to restore part of the data from any point in time. Lastly, using Litigation Hold as a backup option can become costly for two important reasons.

  • All attachments and files cannot be deleted; therefore the storage capacity needs to be significantly increased
  • In addition to the Microsoft licensing fees, Litigation Hold disables archiving users.

 

Just how well does Microsoft’s recycle bin preserve your Exchange Online email data?

Should the recycle bin be used as a backup option in the first place? The quick answer is no. Deleted user mailboxes go to the recycle bin, and the first troubling sign must be its limited storage. The recycle bin is not a replacement for backup solution.

Are you wondering what happens if a departing employee accidentally or maliciously deletes important information?

The recycle bin doesn’t allow for cross-user restoring or recovery from any point in time. Again increasing the complexity to recover lost items. Lastly, exporting data in Outlook compatible PST format is not supported in any other backup solution apart from CloudAlly.

 

Exchange Online archiving: a reliable backup solution?

Office 365’s Exchange Online uses Database Availability Groups – an Exchange Server feature that replicates mailboxes to separate Microsoft data centres which are backing up copies for one another.

Because of this feature, customers can retrieve and access mailbox data, even if a failure affects another database copies, in the event of data failure for example.

However, similarly to using Microsoft’s recycle bin, archiving presents several limitations. For instance, users can’t recover items from specific time periods directly to Exchange. Secondly, corrupted mailbox items can’t be restored based on their hierarchical level. This poses a challenge if you wish to retrieve specific items or folders. Lastly, PST format exporting to outlook just as cross-user restoring are not typically possible, therefore retrieving data from an employee that leaves the organization will become extremely difficult, without a 3rd party backup solution.

 

How does Cloudally’s solution compare to: Exchange email backup solutions?

It’s clear that Microsoft’s specialization is in building great products, not in the backup and recovery. Luckily, Cloudally bridges the gap between the Exchange Online security shortcomings and end users’ backup expectations.

IT professionals need to consider not only the security layers and recovery options, but also the ease of use. Cloudally Office 365 backup solution offers an easy to use non-techy interface for safe and reliable backups, restores data.

As one of the leading Office 365 backup providers, ClouadAlly’s solution has been built to internationally recognized compliance and security standards.

Daily Online Backup

So what are the main differences between Cloudally and the default email backup options mentioned above?

Our unlimited daily online backups and storage tackle the possibility of losing important email communication or entire mailboxes in to the cloud abyss. Email data backups can be done on-demand or fully automated within your desired schedule to fully remove the possibility of human error.

Your information will be stored in our immutable archive, where all your sensitive email data will remain protected from any manipulation or deletion.

The recovery of lost data is as important as the ability to preserve it. Given that Cloudally offers unlimited backups, you can just with one click restore and selectively filter through dates and select the lost data that needs to be recovered.

To improve team collaboration, we offer cross-user restore feature that allows data recovery in circumstances where the email owner is not available to grant access to lost data. The level of recovery can be also adjusted, depending on the situation – whether it’s necessary to restore regular items, folders, or the even the entire mailbox.

While all the Microsoft email backup solutions offer a degree of security and protection, they are most likely reactionary in nature, however, Cloudally offers not only more robust backups and recovery solutions, but also a complete data, and status failure monitoring feature, that will makes sure business continuity is maintained.

 

Conclusion: How well does Office 365 handle email security and risk?

Microsoft has taken some measures to provide recoverability, as outlined in their user agreement and provides some very basic available features that account for backups and possible data risk situations.

However, their presented and available measures are not enough and don’t fully account for broader scenarios which can happen on a daily basis at the organization level.

The degree of responsibility in regard to data loss prevention is split between Microsoft and the end user. Thus end users need to take precautions and adequate steps to prepare for data loss and potential business disasters.

The Ponemon Institute study (funded by IBM) found that the average data record loss costs businesses $141. In our view, this is totally unnecessary and avoidable.

Equip yourself and your organization with the right tools to prevent email data losses and navigate through any data challenges.