Managing enterprise backups has been part of the business of IT departments for generations with Microsoft Consulting firm. The move to the cloud, and more specifically to Office 365, has forced us all to rethink how we should manage backups. When we talk about the most common mistakes, we speak from experience!
Once specializing in server-based backup products, our business has had to evolve into cloud-based backup products, so the experience we have gained will come in handy as you manage the transition. Within our own company as well as with our customers, we regularly see the top five Office 365 backup errors presented below.
1) Lack of coverage of your SaaS solution
When you explain to company managers why it is necessary for their company to have backups or recovery solutions for its cloud services, you are almost always confronted with a false sense of security. Many decision makers make remarks like, “Don’t Microsoft already offer backup services?” When it comes to backing up your data, it’s absolutely important that you understand your responsibility as a customer and the protection Microsoft provides. The list below specifies who is responsible for what.
Your users may only realize the impact of this type of file-level restore when it affects data other than the work they lost. Every large-scale restore (entire sites, OneDrives, mailboxes, etc.) inevitably has an impact on the end user. It’s important to know what you’re responsible for and how long you’re covered for features provided by Microsoft.
Sure, versioning and retention help you prevent file loss, but there are other scenarios you need to deal with:
protect data beyond the standard 93-day Recycle Bin retention;
protect documents and versions against ransomware or malicious people;
provide long-term retention of content from users who have left the company without the need to retain all content for legal purposes;
allow restoration of settings, configuration changes, or protections changed by users.
2) Not grasping the scale of Office 365 workloads
Office 365 is a living ecosystem, which means the workspace is dynamic and constantly changing. Users think of Office 365 as a collection of apps that help them get their work done, while traditional backup tools try to reduce that work to email, calendar, and files. When it comes to backup, you should consider all collaboration data created by all Office 365 services, not just the most obvious files visible on the surface. A group collaborating using Microsoft Teams generates for example:
profile information, channels, settings, ownership information, and permissions saved in Office 365 group settings;
files, notebook items, sites, and announcements saved in SharePoint;
conversations between individuals recorded in users’ mailboxes;
conversations within the team saved in the team’s common mailbox;
team planner boards;
connections to external services.
If you decide that the responsibility to protect the content falls on you, you should be aware that your backup system must be prepared to handle the complexity of Office 365 backups. It is essential to establish a correlation between the different basic services offered by Microsoft. If you delete a Team, you have to ask yourself: “Can I recover all this information”? You need to consider this type of scenario and anticipate how your backup solutions will handle them!
3) Not preparing for the worst
It’s easy to only consider the tip of the iceberg when it comes to protecting Office 365, but keep in mind that you may face scenarios where the entire data center goes out of business. line. It is imperative that you know what ancillary possibilities you have for Office 365. Many of us are used to calculating the cost of an interruption (which often depends on the time and the point of recovery of activity (RTO and RPO) that we can offer to the company). Owning your own data can be crucial to being able to recover from a loss with minimal downtime.
You should not only be prepared for disruptions, but also for the occasional data loss that users occasionally experience in Office 365. A classic example is: “I just inherited permissions to my site and I lost all the individual permissions I had configured! or worse: “I just removed permissions on my intranet site and now I’m getting loads of access requests”, cases that we personally had the “privilege” to solve!
These seemingly minor problems can pose immense difficulties to users. The only solution offered by Microsoft is to use its backup service and restore all of Office 365 to an earlier date and time. Allowing retrieval of security settings alone is an essential feature of any service you plan to use!