Microsoft 365 Recovery Best Practices 

The fact that organizations need to backup their Microsoft 365 deployments has been well established. Microsoft is based on a shared responsibility model in which Microsoft is responsible for protecting the underlying infrastructure, and subscribers are responsible for protecting their own data. This means that if you use Microsoft 365, you have to back up your own data.  In their Services Agreement, Microsoft makes it very clear on the delineation around customer data, “We don’t claim ownership of Your Content. Your Content remains Your Content, and you are responsible for it.

As important as backups might be, however, there is one critical item that seems to get left out of the conversation and that is recoverability. Recoverability isn’t always quite as straightforward as we might like it to be, so in this blog post, we share some key considerations when choosing a third-party product to restore and recover Microsoft 365 data. For a more in-depth take on this topic, it can be found in the Conversational Microsoft 365 Recovery Best Practices E-Book.

Backup Immutability

According to the 2023 Data Protection Trends Report, 85% of organizations indicated that they had experienced at least one ransomware attack in 2022. Immutability makes it so that a backup cannot be overwritten, deleted or encrypted by ransomware. Having immutable backup storage greatly increases the chance of being able to successfully recover from a ransomware attack.

The Difficulty of Recovery

When it comes to using a third-party product to restore Microsoft 365 data, one of the first things that you need to consider is what the recovery process will be like. Backup products can differ widely in terms of their complexity. Microsoft has created a collection of APIs that backup vendors can use for Microsoft 365 backup and recovery. However, there are vendors who only use a subset of the APIs, so if your data is scattered across several Microsoft 365 applications, it would likely be up to the person restoring the data to figure out where the data actually resides, how to restore the data and how to recognize the data has been restored.

Restoration Granularity

Another key consideration is the granularity with which a third-party application allows you to restore Microsoft 365 data. It’s important that whatever backup application you are using can perform both large-scale recovery operations and extremely granular recovery operations, down to individual items like message data, individual files, voicemail messages and other types of data

Versioning and Attributes

Consider the ability to preserve and use any existing attributes associated with the items that are being recovered. Ideally, you should be able to choose which version of the file you want to restore, but you shouldn’t lose access to other versions of the file.

Of course, file versions are not the only type of attributes that exist. Each of the Microsoft 365 applications uses data attributes in its own way, and it’s important for any backup application to be able to recognize and retain these attributes.

Recovery Flexibility

A good backup tool should give you a significant amount of flexibility with regard to the data recovery process. It’s also important that you’re able to export Microsoft 365 data in a way that allows that data to be used outside of your organization.

However, it is equally important that your backup product includes a really good search engine that will be able to locate all of the data that needs to be restored or exported. If your backup application includes a subpar search engine, then it may not be able to find all of the data that needs to be handed over. In other words, it is absolutely essential for a good backup product to feature a first-rate search engine.

Complete Visibility

One of the most critical, and yet most often overlooked backup capabilities is complete visibility into your backups. This means that your backup application needs to have good monitoring and reporting capabilities to make sure that your backup application is healthy and that it is running as intended.  Your backup application should never leave you wondering if your data was backed up as intended.

Self-Service Recovery

Not every backup application offers self-service capabilities. Self-service recovery allows the user to get their data back immediately, while also freeing up backup operators so that they can focus on more important matters.

In conclusion, Microsoft 365 data recovery capabilities vary widely from one backup application to another. Your organization’s backup is its lifeline. Make sure you keep these key considerations in mind when choosing a third-party product to restore your Microsoft 365 data

You can read the whole Conversational Microsoft 365 Recovery Best Practices E-book here.

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