Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Office 365) is a robust, subscription-based platform used by over 200 million people each month as their main email service. It is the backbone of the communications systems for over a million companies worldwide.

Microsoft 365 is widely regarded as a secure platform, but what about the volumes of data any given company has within its email system? What if something happens to compromise that data like malware? System outage? Malicious employees? Human error? You can get that data back easily, right?


What most companies don’t realize is that Microsoft doesn’t back up your data…

What most companies don’t realize is that Microsoft doesn’t back up your data. Yes, it does have a few “retention” or “archiving” tools available, but for the most part they are difficult to use and extremely limited in scope.

3 (of many) ways your email data could be lost or compromised:

  1. Accidental deletion – This happens on a day-to-day basis for a variety of reasons…botched clean up attempts, mismanaging files, user errors, etc.
  2. Intentional deletion – Malicious employees trying to do harm to your systems or attempting to delete incriminating data.
  3. Hackers, malware, or virus attacks – Data can be deleted or locked up on an individual computer or throughout the network.

5 ways native Microsoft 365 recovery falls short:

  1. Typically, there’s only a 30-day retention period built into Office 365, and Microsoft SharePoint Online is only backed up every 12 hours, with just a 14-day retention period. Essentially, once data is gone, it’s gone.
  2. Recovery efforts often depend on being able to identify exactly when the data was lost. A tough task in a widespread malware attack.
  3. Any protections in place can be disabled by hackers.
  4. Retention of data can quickly eat up your allocated storage space and lead to additional expense.
  5. Retention policies don’t address legal hold requirements or help address compliance needs.

The bottom line is Microsoft does not have satisfactory or reliable solutions for full or expedient data recovery.

It doesn’t make sense to depend on the same platform to recover your data that you lost it on in the first place…

Third-party backup tools provide a solution.

One of the most compelling reasons to use a third-party solution to back up your Microsoft 365 email data is simple logic — It doesn’t make sense to depend on the same platform to recover your data that you lost it on in the first place. It’s kind of like backing up your computer data to the same computer you’re using and then trying to use that computer to recover it when it’s lost.

The good news is there are many third-party tools available to backup Microsoft 365 email and recover data in the event of a crisis.

10 reasons to use third-party backup tools for Microsoft 365 email:

  1. They allow you to easily find and restore as many files as you need, or even restore an entire user or folder to a point in time.
  2. They can cull the data and prepare it for the eDiscovery process.
  3. Recoveries can be executed at virtually any level — emails, files, folders, users, sites, subsites, spreadsheets, Word documents, email attachments, calendar details, etc.
  4. Solutions are very flexible. You can keep your email data for as long as you need.
  5. You can tailor backups to meet the compliance needs of your business.
  6. Solutions are available to not only support Microsoft 365, but Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business as well.
  7. You can find and restore specific data sets.
  8. Backups run in the background and don’t impact how you use the platform.
  9. Most solutions can conduct backups automatically.
  10. Backups are stored in the cloud which means that data is not tied to same systems you’re using it on.

Microsoft agrees.

Backups of Microsoft 365 mailboxes are just as important, and should be considered just as much of a necessity, as backups of an onsite server. Most backup services, however, are only sold to IT providers and are not available directly to Microsoft 365 clients. Most do not allow direct access by the end-users to restore items. Only the IT provider or administrator can recover data.

If you’re a small to mid-sized business, chances are you aren’t backing up your email unless you have a third-party backup and recovery solution in place provided by an IT vendor.

Microsoft itself agrees that you should be backing up your email with a third-party provider. They state the following in their service agreement:

“We strive to keep the Services up and running; however, all online services suffer occasional disruptions and outages, and Microsoft is not liable for any disruption or loss you may suffer as a result. In the event of an outage, you may not be able to retrieve Your Content or Data that you’ve stored. We recommend that you regularly backup Your Content and Data that you store on the Services or store using Third-Party Apps and Services.”

We agree, too.