Office 365 Backup: Is it worth it?

As a cloud service, one of the major benefits of Office 365 is its reliability and resilience to various incidents that would otherwise disrupt on-premises servers. Notably, cloud hosting eliminates the need to regularly replace aging hardware and mitigates the risks of failure caused by older equipment. In the case of Microsoft’s SLA this amounts to a 99.95% guaranteed monthly uptime for cloud services.

Despite these guarantees, there are still instances where a company may want to consider a backup solution for its Office 365 tenant—some that are not strictly limited to incidents of failure.

Incident Recovery

Depending on your organization’s industry, you may be more susceptible to cyberattacks. Financial and healthcare firms, for example, were some of the most frequently targeted industries in 2016 & 2017*. It makes sense, as these organizations store a great deal of their client’s personal information that can be exploited. With so much at stake, such firms should consider additional precautions to protect their data. While public clouds have been shown to be resistant to hacking, what is there to be concerned over?

The answer is phishers. As demonstrated in a previous post***, malicious actors now have the capability to unleash ransomware attacks within Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms like Office 365. Much like a standard Ransomware Attack, these new variations encrypt files stored within the platform and render them unusable. It is only after a ransom fee is paid by the targets of the attack that the files will return to normal (If at all).

By leveraging a file backup solution, however, files can be replicated and stored in a location logically separated from a compromised Office 365 tenant.

Disaster Recovery

Despite the many fail safes in place to prevent datacenter outage, there is still the risk that Office 365 may be disrupted in one way or another. While unlikely, if every US datacenter was brought down a business would not be able to access email, files, etc. In the case of a service such as Mimecast, backups are stored in datacenters separate from Microsoft cloud infrastructure and are brought online in the event of disruption.


For firms subject to regulation by governmental bodies, maintaining compliance is a major concern. As transparency is a major factor that goes into compliance, Office 365 backup can offer solutions for data and communications retention.

Of the communication options offered via Office 365, Skype for Business and Teams, only Teams provides persistent chat logs. That means that for businesses that utilize Skype over Teams do not have an out of the box solution for retaining communications.

Another benefit for transparency is that a backup/archiving service will centrally host and manage replicated data, as well as make content searchable by ediscovery. By storing everything in one location, the backup recovery process can be simplified. This contrasts with Office 365s own archiving, in which each services backups are located in a separate admin area.

Error Correction

For all its features regarding archiving and retention, there is always the chance that some critical file may slip through the cracks by accidental deletion. This may be especially true for businesses subscribed to lower tiers of Office 365 that do not have retention features. For example, if a user was to bulk delete files that were thought to be unnecessary, they could not be recovered if they were deemed necessary some time later. With a backup solution, however, administrators could simply select the time-period they wished to recover from and find the file.

In many cases the Per User cost for backing up Office 365 is less than the price increase from upgrading to a higher tier of the service. So, for businesses that do not have many compliance requirements but wish to have greater retention capability for their data, selecting an Office 365 backup service can prove to be a prudent decision.

What Options Are There?

Due in part to the aforementioned reasons, the market for Office 365 backup solutions has become somewhat hard to navigate. When considering a backup solution, the best course is often to seek the advice & assistance of a managed services provider specialized in Office 365. In many cases, these backup solutions distribute their product exclusively through partner networks, so working with an MSP may be required to begin with. Metro CSG, for example, maintains partnership with SkyKick and MigrationWiz as our preferred backup options. As a partner of such services, Metro CSG can assist with your transition to the cloud and implement solutions to increase overall availability of data to your users.

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