Backup is an essential part of running an IT environment, and you want to make sure you have easy access to restore data, files, and applications if you had a business disaster or were facing a cyberattack. On Microsoft 365, you have a number of options, from manually backing up the files yourself, to implementing a third-party backup provider. Let’s dive in!

Manually backing up M365

If you’re relying on Microsoft to create a backup of all of your data, you might be unaware of its limitations in this area. If you have multiple Office365 services, for example, email using Outlook, OneDrive for storage, and a calendar and contacts, you won’t be able to simply recover all of your data without a dedicated solution.

Instead, M365 offers two options for backups in Office365. First, you can roll back OneDrive files anywhere within 30 days to a previous version. Secondly, you can restore deleted emails and files from a specific folder called “Recoverable items”.

There are also manual processes that you can complete to add backup and redundancy to your IT environment. For example, export files to the Personal Storage Table using Outlook. This can become a resource-intensive task, and you have no guarantee that data is not corrupted, as Microsoft does not take responsibility for the status of any backups.

Another consideration is that OneDrive’s recovery is held in the same environment as its production, which could make it less secure in the case of a security incident.

Using Axcient for data backups on Microsoft 365

Axcient’s x360Recover solution integrates with Atera and offers powerful backup capabilities. Microsoft365 will be automatically backed up, alongside any Google Workspace data. The solution includes backup for a wide range of M365 applications, including Exchange Mail, Calendar, Contacts, OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams data, with unlimited storage and retention.

This data is then held separately from Microsoft’s production environment, on the encrypted Axcient cloud. Fully compliant with a wide range of regulations including HIPAA, GDPR, and SOC 2, it takes less than 10 minutes to get up and running with Axcient. Added features include:

Smart search: Restoring data can take time, and Axcient SmartSearch allows you to get granular about recovering exactly the files and data that you need for business continuity. Did you know that SmartSearch can scan 100 million objects in under 5 seconds? This is a great tool for restoring point-in-time or specific versions, and quickly getting business running as usual.

AirGap technology: This unique feature separates out any backup requests from the process of backing up data, so that data can’t be deleted by mistake internally, or maliciously by a member of staff or an ex-employee. There are a wide range of processes working together to create AirGap, including honeypots, two-factor authorization, and time gaps between requests for deletion and the actual execution.

Chain-free backups: Data is stored in a cloud-native, virtualized state, with no need for backwards or forwards chains. This dramatically reduces the chances of corruption, lost data, or data bloat. Each and every recovery point is totally independent of the last. In addition, AutoVerify performs integrity tests every day, to remove the manual effort and provide ultimate peace of mind.

Relying on Acronis for Microsoft365 backup

Another option for Atera customers is Acronis Cyber Backup. A robust backup option, you can benefit from flexible storage options such as NAS, SAN, tapes and disks, the Acronis Cloud, or any other private or public cloud backup deployment, all complete with deduplication to avoid unnecessary storage costs and bloat. You can backup and restore everything on Microsoft365 from files and email attachments to access permissions!

No matter what, data is stored in a unified backup format, allowing you to recover to a different platform if necessary to get business back to normal as quickly as possible and minimize downtime. For example, you might want to restore your backup as a VM running directly from storage, which will get your environment back up in seconds, while your data is being restored fully in the background. Unique features of Acronis include:

Malware-scanning: As well as drive health monitoring using machine learning, Acronis includes built-in malware scanning of full disk backups. This means when you restore your data, you never have to worry about reinfection. You can even scan based on backup contents, so that unique or custom apps don’t flag a false positive.

Data protection map: Automatic data classification tracks the compliance status of important data and files so that you can see at a glance if PII and other sensitive customer information is backed up. You can also set up alerts if compliance-related reporting information is not backed up as it should be.

Maximize use of tape drives: Multiple clients can backup to the same tape drives at the same time, perfect for when the tape drive is a faster solution than the backup source. You can also use multi-streaming to allow a single customer to backup to multiple tape drives, great for multiple destination devices.

What questions should you ask about backup?

When it comes to backup, you want the process to happen easily behind the scenes, not become just another job on your to-do list. That means your third-party provider should use automation to promise frequent and reliable backups and verification, following best practices for security and compliance.

The other half of the role of backup is recovery! How long will it take to recover, what guarantees do they offer about accuracy and security, and do they offer search capabilities to get essential services back to normal ASAP? Of course, you also want a user-friendly dashboard or admin panel so that you’re not left with a steep learning curve in a stressful situation.

At Atera, we integrate with Axcient and Acronis for backup, two providers who check all the boxes and allow you to put backups firmly on the “done” list.

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