Author: Nop Srinara
Data loss is a common occurrence these days, and SaaS apps are not immune. From basic email to end user files, data loss has become an everyday normality for today’s organisations. When it comes to data loss for businesses, there can be many causes, including a system being compromised by a virus or malware, software being corrupted or even natural disaster.
Microsoft has done a great job in mitigating these issues, but is helpless when it comes to the most common cause of data loss in Office 365: human error. In a single slip of a key, a safe and sound critical document can be wiped-out forever.
In a survey by the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council, 3 out of 4 companies reported having suffered disasters which resulted in major data loss, including the loss of mission critical software applications, virtual machines and critical files. Even worse, in most cases, companies also suffered multiple days of downtime, effecting their operation and reputation.
Data loss has very real financial implications. The study showed that 20per cent of the companies surveyed suffered USD$50,000 to $5 million in downtime losses due to lost productivity, unrecoverable assets, and lost consumer confidence. The study also found that more than half of companies that suffer from such catastrophic data loss as a result of a natural disaster often go out of business. They simply cannot recover the assets they lost, including customer data, onsite financial documents, application files, etc.
Truth is, if you can’t bring your business back to normal operations in a little over a week, your chances for business survival plummet. Consumer confidence and employee morale and security are already stretched thin after a disaster, and if your business is not able to resume operations, your competitors will undoubtedly take your customers.
Office 365 as a service has the ability to restore anything within the core environment. In the wake of a catastrophic failure, Microsoft will ensure your data is restored and available through one of the many data centers that it runs specifically for this purpose.
It does not necessarily take a catastrophic failure to warrant a restore of service and data. Simple deletion of content, both by end users and administrators, along with policy enforcement, means a restore is often needed.
So, what do you need to know if the worst happens? Below we have put together some pointers to help you out of that worst-case-scenario.
1. EXCHANGE ONLINE
Exchange Online offers end users the ability to restore files that are not permanently deleted (shift+delete) through the main deleted items and recoverable items methods. Single and multiple items can be recovered easily using this approach, but anything that does not reside in the two Items folders cannot be recovered as easily. If the core mailbox has the archive feature enabled, then all deleted items can be archived and restored as needed. If Message Records Management (MRM) policies have been applied to the mailbox, this can aid in retaining items for longer than the default values. However, even with MRM policies, items that fall outside of the retention range can only be restored through a Microsoft support call. Microsoft will then restore mailbox data as needed.
2. ONEDRIVE FOR BUSINESS PROTECTION
OneDrive for Business is part of the core Office 365 storage mechanism. The files stored there are surfaced through SharePoint Online and through the Sync Client. These stored files are subject to the same controls used in SharePoint Online for backup and restore. Site Collection backups within SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business are performed every twelve hours and stored by Microsoft for fourteen days. As a tenant administrator, you have no control over backups or restores. If a restore is necessary, it can only be initiated by contacting Microsoft’s Office 365 support. Admins do not have the ability to restore a single item, document, list, or library unless they reside within the 1st or 2nd Stage Recycle Bins. A full restore of a site collection is the only option if the files have been deleted from both Recycle Bins. File version history and version control can facilitate restoring files back into OneDrive for Business that have not been deleted but may have been overwritten by mistake. OneDrive for Business allows for restoring of versions or simply viewing them.
3. THE NECESSITY OF A 3RD PARTY BACKUP AND RESTORE SOLUTION
With Microsoft focusing on its core service, taking internal backups, and ensuring everything is distributed between multiple data centers...what else needs doing? Office 365 has been designed in such a way that you as an organisation do not need to worry about core infrastructure. You never need to worry about patching or backing up and monitoring the core infrastructure. Microsoft ensures that they are not the cause for any data loss, but have also limited the administration and end user backup and restore capabilities. If an administrator or end user in your organisation simply deletes files and you cannot restore them, you would need to contact support and wait for a solution with no timeline guaranteed. Having the ability to recover from simple deletions along with major outages is more important than ever before. Expecting end users to be the source of the backup and the mechanism for restoring is a risky approach to take. The recommended approach is to have a solution that allows for individual item, file and container level backup and restores. This allows both end users and administrators the ability to work without worrying that their critical business files and data could disappear at any time without a chance of recovery.
To find out more about how you can keep your Office365 data backed up, see Datto’s eBook Backup for Office 365: A New Hope for Data, which covers the common causes of Office 365 data loss, and key tips for recovery.