On May 19th of 2019, it happened. Caused by a faulty migration from legacy DNS to Azure DNS, Microsoft's most important enterprise services were cut off the internet and suffered a severe outage.
At 15:43 EDT, Microsoft 365, Dynamics, DevOps, Azure AD, and other products experienced significant issues until a fix brought them back at 18:35.
Clients who rely exclusively on Microsoft´s cloud for data storage and important processes were forced into a nearly three hours long break – enough time to contemplate if they should have diversified more.
What if the outage had lasted a complete day or two? What if a serious hacking incident had caused data loss for customers?
Even at just three hours, an interruption might have caused severe problems and even financial losses for some. Meetings had to be postponed, events and travel plans canceled, and in some cases, maybe even production lines stopped.
For Microsofts clients, an external Office 365 backup solution like Altaro would have at least provided access to all important documents and files. And yes, such solutions might be more important than you probably think. But you might ask – doesn´t Microsoft backup data anyway?
How Microsoft handles your data on Office 365
Microsoft keeps several copies of Exchange mailboxes on four to five different servers at at least two different datacenters. In case of a dramatic event like a terrorist attack, the other data center(s) can step in.
According to the company this so-called Exchange Native data protection, which is also available for Exchange Servers on-premises, provides protection against corruption of mailbox data.
Exchange also uses a hidden recoverable items folder where every permanently deleted item or mailbox will be held for possible recovery for up to 30 days.
SharePoint and OneDrive use the same principle of spreading copies of your data over several data centers (Microsoft Teams uses SharePoint for file storage and Exchange for conversation storage). Items deleted in SharePoint Online are kept for up to 93 days, regardless of whether they have been purged from the recycle bin or not.
As you can see already, Microsoft does not provide real backups. All the copies and safeguards are designed to reduce outage time and facilitate recovery after erroneous deletion of single files, directories, or mailboxes.
Real Office 365 Backups
Backup copies of your data will not be stored within the Microsoft Office 365 infrastructure but managed elsewhere. This means they can be accessed and restored from everywhere. Auto creation of programmed backups and easy backup data access with search and browsing functionalities are also essential.
In the case of Microsoft Exchange, this provides a focused and granular restore of mailboxes or emails, both for users and groups. Furthermore, Microsoft Teams Chats is also accessible for restoration from any specific day or time.
To mitigate the risk of loss even further, the Office 365 backup solution offers exports of your data in a usable way, so it can be accessed locally in case of an emergency.
And last but not least, handling of your Office 365 backups is swift and easy. When outages or data loss occur, you are able to bring back any specific file, conversation, or item in the shortest time possible.