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OneDrive for Business – Backup and Recovery Strategies for Microsoft 365

The example of OneDrive for Business shows that backup is necessary even in cases when the supplier provides services related to data storage. Using the Microsoft virtual disk without professional tools for creating backup is a risky business. Do you want to know why?

Microsoft 365 OneDrive data also needs backup

In the hurry to migrate to the digital world, SaaS (Software as a Service) is playing an increasingly important role. Applications that use this model have great flexibility, making it easy to add more users and extra functionality. And of course, like with every cloud service, you don’t need to incur the costs of additional software or its implementation and maintenance.

Among SaaS products, Microsoft 365 (previously Office 365) is especially popular as it not only offers well-known classic office software, but also includes additional products such as Teams, SharePoint and OneDrive.

Microsoft guarantees a high level of service availability, which some people confuse with data protection. Research by IDC shows that 6 out of 10 Office 365 users have no plans related to backup and Disaster Recovery. This is of no surprise to us as we are often asked by clients: Why create backup copies when Microsoft does it for us? Irrespective of whether data is stored on a local server or in the Microsoft data center in Frankfurt, all obligations related to data storage remain with the user.

As a result, using Microsoft Office 365 services without making backup copies is a highly risky strategy for reliable protection of business data. In fact, on its website, Microsoft itself recommends that clients make backup copies of Office 365 data.

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.

Of course Microsoft doesn’t simply wash its hands of all responsibility and charge clients only for use of its software. That’s why it is important to understand which obligations rest with the service provider, and which rest with the service user. The breakdown below shows precisely the scope of responsibility for each of the parties.

Microsoft responsibilities

  • Cloud infrastructure (SLA for availability, Office 365 uptime)
  • Basic data replication (a data center is a data center, geo-redundancy, trash – for limited, short-lasting data recovery)
  • Data processor (data privacy, regulations control, industrial certificates of conformity)
  • Security function limited to physical protection of infrastructure, application level, logic security, controls for users and administrators)

Client responsibilities

  • Business data in Office 365 (access to and control of data residing in Office 365)
  • Creating backup copies and storing of corporate level data (detailed data copies stored outside the environment, as well as the option of restoring at a point in time)
  • Data owner (bears ultimate responsibility for internal legal team and for conformity of data as well as for requirements resulting from corporate and industry regulations)
  • Security functions for protecting data from internal threats (such as accidental deletion, internal threats, employee dissatisfaction) and for external threats (ransomware, malware, misleading applications).

OneDrive – a key element of Microsoft 365

One of the pillars of Microsoft Office 365 is OneDrive – a place where all manner of user files can be stored. In addition to storing digital resources, the Microsoft cloud disk makes it possible for them to be shared among employees. At first glance, this appears to be a highly convenient solution, as users subscribing to the service receive disk space immediately. However, this doesn’t change the fact that the service provider’s responsibility for OneDrive is identical to that for other components in the Microsoft 365 package.

The stakes in this case therefore are extremely high. After all, what happens if the data on OneDrive vanishes? Users of the package who have not secured their files must come to terms with their permanent loss. That’s why OneDrive security is a top priority for company owners, administrators and users. As a firm specializing in SaaS data protection, we have helped many companies to prevent loss of critical business data from the OneDrive service. Someone could say that Microsoft 365 creates backup copies anyway and allows for recovery of deleted files from the ‘Trash’. However, there are certain limitations to the native backup feature. What’s more, all data backup copies are stored in the same cloud, which makes them susceptible to exactly the same threats as the resources they are protecting. For this reason, creating OneDrive file backup copies in other clouds and on mass storage devices is a good way to protect them. Let’s have a look at three different methods.

Method 1: Creating OneDrive file backup copies on a computer hard drive

The simplest way to protect OneDrive files is to save them to the computer memory. The operation itself does not require any specialist knowledge on the part of the user, but this method does have at least several limitations.

The biggest drawback is the lack of regularity, as all operations are done manually. For the same reason it is very time-consuming. Backup copies can be lost if something happens to the computer or the hard drive. OneDrive recovery becomes more complicated in the case of large amounts of stored data. For the individual user this might not be of great importance, but the same cannot be said for the business user.

Due to the drawbacks mentioned above, a better choice than the tedious manual option is to make use of automated backup software.

Method 2: Use OneDrive & Sync Client

OneDrive & Sync is a Windows system application that enables synchronization of files and folders on your desktop with the OneDrive service. The settings allow for automated copying of all changes in cloud documents to a folder on the desktop and vice versa. New documents can also be copied onto your computer, thus creating a backup copy for OneDrive. Windows 10 users have this application as standard; others have to download it if they’re interested in this sort of service.

Although this is a much more convenient method than manually copying data onto the computer hard drive, it’s still not ideal. Why? If a user has enabled two-way synchronization, they have to be aware that any errors or inconsistencies on one side will result in the loss of files in both locations. The best example of this is a ransomware attack. If desktop files become infected, synchronization will move the infected files to the cloud, where the ransomware will be able to spread. What’s more, creating OneDrive backup on a local disk requires a large amount of free disk space. This can become highly problematic during synchronization of large amounts of data.

Method 3: OneDrive Business backup from a professional backup provider

The above methods for creating OneDrive Business backup can only serve as temporary solutions, and no company should rely on such solutions for their backup strategy. Sooner or later, behavior like this will lead to a catastrophe in the form of a data leak or encryption by malicious software.

The safest, most effective and most user-friendly way of creating backup for OneDrive Business files is to use specialist software, such as Storware KODO for Cloud. This enables you to back up resources not only from OneDrive for Business, but also from Exchange Mailbox, Exchange Contacts, Exchange Calendars and SharePoint Online.

Storware KODO for Cloud ensures protection against accidental deletion or overwriting of files and expiry of subscriptions, as well as threats such as ransomware. This protection can be provided automatically – for every new user account created, Storware KODO for Cloud performs full and incremental backups. It also allows you to define the number of saved backup versions, as well as the data retention period in days, months or even years.

Data can be collected locally in an on-premise environment, or as part of the resources of other cloud services. The system makes it possible to restore data to the cloud and to local on-premise environments, as well as to conduct data migration between cloud service user accounts. Those who would like to get to know our solution better can use either the free version (up to 25 workstations), or the 45-day trial version. For more details visit our website.

Pawel Maczka

text written by:

Pawel Maczka, CTO at Storware