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We help many clients with O365 backups and through this delivery, we come across a frequent question: If archiving 365 data provides the security to prevent data loss from accidental deletion or malicious intent, why do I need to do a backup as well?

It can a complicated issue when verbiage in the Compliance section of the E3 and E02 licensing shows archival. But if you look closely, there is a difference between archiving your O365 data and backing it up.

Per Microsoft: (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/exchange/back-up-email):


“Point in time restoration of mailbox items is out of scope for the Exchange Online service, though there might be third-party solutions available that provide this functionality. Exchange Online offers great retention and recovery support for your organization’s email infrastructure, and your mailbox data is available when you need it, no matter what happens.”


Infrastructure is covered in the above statement, which means you are able to recover server infrastructure and networking. Your mailbox data is part of that and can be recovered by MS for a fee for up to 30 days. Microsoft will recover your entire organization’s mail data, but it won’t recover a single mailbox or a single mail item. This usually results in data loss.


 Lead Net3 Sales Engineer, Devon Stephens, gives 2 scenarios where backup is better than archiving:


Scenario 1:  A General Admin account gets compromised.

The actor then proceeds to run the following command for each mailbox in the company:  Remove-Mailbox -Identity <Identity> -Permanent $true


This command removes the mailbox, and permanently deletes it from recycle bins and all compliance structures. 


If you are using external archiving services, you can get these mail items back. Typically this would involve recreating all mailboxes, exporting from your archive service as a PST, then importing to the correct mailbox your recreated. Typically this is going to include ALL mail ever sent to  that account, including what has been deleted by the users.


If you are utilizing Office 365 backup with Acronis or Veeam, you can simply restore the mailboxes.


Scenario 2:  A mailbox in Office 365 becomes corrupted, and the data is inaccessible. 

Microsoft will not restore a single mailbox, and there is no point in time backup. You may be able to perform limited recovery by using outlook cached e-mails, or an archiving service. 


With Acronis or Veeam 365 backup, you simply restore the mailbox or single items within the mailbox to a particular state. 



We find that most companies backup 365 for 3 reasons:


  1. Granular restore of data.
    • Individual items can be difficult to restore with 365 (Contacts, Calendars, Sharepoint Data, etc.).
  2. Malicious Activity
    • External and internal threats to your data.
    • There are ways to hard delete data in 365, and those are increasingly being utilized to eradicate datasets within 365. A restore can be done with Microsoft, but is typically quite expensive and is not granular in nature.
  3. Retention and Compliance
    • Longer retention, external copy requirements, segregation of duties.

There is no guarantee anything like this would ever happen to your data and many companies never have an issue with any kind of data loss. But a good way to think about it like insurance for data deletion. If you have any questions about 365 migrations or would like to see how Acronis and Veeam can easily backup your O365 data, please contact us to schedule a meeting with one of representatives.