Other built-in Office 365 protections
In discussing Microsoft 365 cloud backup it would be remiss not to mention some of the other mechanisms that Microsoft have implemented to protect your data. This is not necessarily to divert from the need for backup, but it does help to gain a fuller picture of additional measures that can be used.
For most common file types you can easily go back to earlier versions of your file - perhaps before it was corrupted or accidentally changed.
However, not every type of application file can be versioned (e.g. some types of CAD files). Furthermore, versions can themselves be deleted - and cleared out of the Recycle Bin – meaning that they offer very limited protection from malicious actors. Furthermore, versioning only applies to files - you cannot restore a folder to an earlier point in time.
Data Retention Policies and archive
Data can also be preserved in archive or using Data Retention Policies such as Legal Hold.
Data retention policies are designed from a regulatory or compliance perspective, and again are not to be considered backups. They are complex to set up, complex to manage and the individual records or objects need to be restored based on metadata on an individual basis. Imagine this as a mechanism to restore a file or small number of point-in-time file snapshots from an archive, say 5 years ago for a fraud investigation, for example. It is not designed or intended to be used for restore of entire folders or mailboxes.
Archives are not backups either - they are simply an alternative type of data storage - usually to prevent ad-hoc retrieval and minimise cost of storage.
In summary: Microsoft have a really robust system for managing and securing data in Office 365. However it doesn't cover all end-user eventualities.
Return to the Microsoft 365 index post to learn more