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5 Mistakes that Result in Microsoft 365 Data Loss

5 Microsoft 365 Backup Mistakes and How to Avoid Data Loss in the Cloud

If you use Microsoft 365, data protection is of the utmost importance! Protecting your data in the cloud means running regular and reliable backups. However, some businesses are still negligent when it comes to protecting their Microsoft 365 data. In this post, I am going to cover five backup mistakes you should avoid. 

Microsoft 365 Data Loss

1. Not Backing Up Your Data

One common misconception is to think that your Office 365 data is entirely safe in the cloud. However, this assumption is not true. Your cloud data can become affected by:

  • System failures
  • Natural disasters
  • Ransomware attacks
  • Intentional deletions
  • Accidental deletions

As a user of Microsoft services, you need to know how to handle your data. What are the dos and don’ts? Microsoft says a lot about data security and protection. According to Microsoft’s Services Agreement, online services provided by Microsoft may undergo disruptions and outages. And Microsoft will ensure that your data doesn’t go missing with geo-redundancy across its data centers.

But for all other data loss events resulting from user mistakes or ransomware, Microsoft cannot guarantee that users will be able to access or retrieve their data. This kind of data protection lies on the shoulders of the users.

According to the Microsoft Shared Responsibility Model, Microsoft is responsible for providing services to users worldwide. However, users are responsible for keeping their data safe and recovering it in case of any data loss scenario. Microsoft Services Agreement states: “We recommend that you regularly backup Your Content and Data that you store on the Services or store using Third-Party Apps and Services.”

Microsoft 365 data is included in that recommendation. You can use Microsoft’s native data retention policies, but if they fail or become past due, you may not be able to retrieve your data. For example, you can generally restore your data from the Recycle Bin, but your data in the Recycle Bin could become lost or, eventually, permanently deleted once the retention period expires. 

At other times, it may be hard to find specific information due to the limitations of the search tool. Lastly, recovery from a secondary Recycle Bin, which involves sending a request to Microsoft, may not be 100% successful, and some of your data may end up being lost. By contrast, third-party backup solutions guarantee effortless recovery of your data regardless of the circumstances. 

2. Backing Up Only Partial Data

It’s important to cover all your data when you back up. This means that you need to back up your Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive for Business in full, including all files, folders, objects, tasks, mailboxes, contacts, and calendars. This makes a lot of sense because if you fail to back up some parts of your data, you won’t be able to recover it if it gets deleted or corrupted. 

To ensure a quick and full recovery of your Microsoft 365 data, find a third-party backup solution that offers comprehensive backups of your Microsoft 365 data. Usually, such backup solutions have advanced features that can ensure a smooth Office 365 backup and recovery process, such as:

  • Full backups. They are required for the Grandfather-Father-Son (GFS) rotation cycle, in which a full backup is performed once a week (Father), and another full backup is performed once a month (Grandfather).
  • Incremental backups. They are a great solution for saving time and storage space. Incremental backups allow you to copy only the blocks that have changed since the previous backup. Once you run a full backup, the rest can be incremental. In addition, the incremental backup mechanism enables you to delete older incremental backups while preserving your data in full.
  • Granular recovery. This type of recovery is what you need if you have to recover just a single file, document or object, which is often the case. Most of the time, you need to recover a specific document that you have permanently deleted. Granular recovery can help you recover just the specific item you need — no more, no less! Granular recovery is a practical choice because it saves you from running a full recovery of your data.
  • Advanced search. When you run granular recovery, you can find any folder, object, file, contact or calendar item with the advanced search tool. It’s easy to search. Just enter the name of your file, folder or any item you search for or use the key words. Once found, recover the item instantly. 

As your business grows and scales up, don’t forget to extend your Office 365 backup coverage. Remember, if you fail to back up new data, there is a chance the data will be lost forever due to human error, a cyberattack, or other accidental or malicious accidents.  

3. Incorrect Storage Practices

Avoid storing Microsoft 365 cloud backups in Microsoft cloud or in the same place where your production VMs are located. If something goes wrong, such as hardware failure, at the location where you keep your production data and backups, both of them may become compromised or deleted. If this happens, you won’t be able to use your backups to retrieve your data. What could be worse than not being able to use your backups because of incorrect storage practices? 

When planning your data backup strategy, consider the 3-2-1 approach. This approach calls for having at least 3 copies of your backup: the original backup and two more copies. Do your best to store your backup copies in different locations to ensure extra security and 100% recoverability. You can store your backups in the cloud, on-premises or at a remote location. The more copies you have, the better the chances are that your data is recoverable when you need it.

4. Failure to Protect from Ransomware or Encrypt Your Backups

Backups can be your only way to recover your data in case of a ransomware attack. Paying the hacker is never a good option. There is no guarantee that you will receive your data in full and in the state it was prior to the attack. However, if you have backups, you don’t have to comply with the demands of the hackers. You can safely recover all your data and move on with your production without experiencing downtime. 

Make sure your backup data is safe by encrypting your backups. Encryption makes your backup data unreadable and inaccessible for unauthorized users. You also give hackers less opportunity to access your data, steal your credentials and compromise your systems. 

5. Using Unreliable Data Retention Services

Some businesses rely on third-party providers for data retention and storage. Those providers may offer services that have certain drawbacks. For example, some providers charge skyrocketing amounts for data retention in the cloud.

Make sure that your cloud storage is affordable and offers unlimited storage plans. In addition, ensure that your backup solution of choice enables you to send backup copies and backups to private or public clouds such as AWS, Google Cloud Platform, or Microsoft Azure. To learn more about Office 365 backup best practices, visit here.

Backups with NAKIVO Backup & Replication

NAKIVO Backup & Replication is an all-in-one, lightweight and affordable solution that offers comprehensive Microsoft Office 365 backup and recovery. Protect your Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business data with state-of-the art features that can take your backup experience to a whole new level.


Backups come to the rescue when you need to recover your data after a ransomware attack, disaster or any type of data deletion scenario. Not backing up your data or not backing up your data in full may result in a permanent loss of valuable information. In addition to running regular backups, you need to undertake security measures such as encryption and ransomware protection. Lastly, store your cloud data in a safe and affordable location and follow the 3-2-1 rule to ensure a 100% recoverability after a disruptive event.

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