Let’s correct a few misconceptions about your Office 365 data. We speak with businesses regularly about the Microsoft Office 365 data that’s powering their day-to-day operations — in Exchange, SharePoint, and OneDrive. We’ve realized that many of these companies have the same misconceptions about what Microsoft does and doesn’t do when it comes to safeguarding their data. It’s time to set the record straight.

1. “Microsoft offers geo-redundancy for Office 365, so they’re backing up our data.”

Not exactly. Microsoft’s geo-redundancy is about maintaining uptime for Office 365 users. When they promise geo-redundancy, Microsoft is saying that if one data center fails, the company can redirect customers’ environments to a data center in another geographical area.

From an uptime perspective, this is a terrific service. Imagine a hurricane, flood, or regional power outage that takes down a Microsoft data center. In such a situation, you’ll be thrilled to know that Microsoft can redirect your Office 365 service to a data center somewhere else in the country — a region not in the middle of a natural disaster. In some cases, Microsoft can even execute these data-center redirects without users realizing that it’s happening.

But this geo-redundancy, like most of what Microsoft promises users in its service agreement, is about maintaining reliable access to their Office 365 services, not about backing up your data in those services. In fact, if someone in your company accidentally deletes data in your Office 365 environment, Microsoft will likely perceive the deletion as intentional — and simultaneously delete that data from all locations where they might be storing it for geo-redundancy.

Why Aren’t You Already Protecting Your Office 365 Data? Read more here.

2. “Sure, our Office 365 account doesn’t include an official backup plan, but Microsoft is obviously looking after our data. It’s their cloud, after all.”

We hear variations of this assumption all the time. For businesses using SaaS tools today, it’s hard to imagine a cloud provider — particularly one as large and dominant as Microsoft — not taking de facto responsibility for making sure their customers’ data is always backed up and easily accessible.

Unfortunately, this simply isn’t the case. In the Microsoft Services Agreement, which covers all Office 365 products, the company explicitly states that it does not take responsibility for backing up your data in their software applications.

In fact, Microsoft’s agreement clearly puts this responsibility directly on you, the customer, with the following statement: “We recommend that you regularly backup your Content and Data that you store on the Services…”

If that isn’t clear enough, on several of its blogs and web pages, the company states that “With Office 365, it’s your data. You own it. You control it.”

3. “We don’t have to worry that an infrastructure problem on their side will keep us from our 365 tools or data. We’re talking about Microsoft.”

This is an understandable assumption, especially considering that Microsoft touts geo-redundancy as an uptime safeguard against problems with its facilities or networks. But you might be surprised how often Microsoft experiences infrastructure challenges of its own — some of which it cannot resolve right away for customers.

In 2018 alone, Office 365 users around the world had their work disrupted by:

  • An April outage in Europe that left many UK users unable to access their Exchange Email mailboxes for several days.
  • A September lightning strike that brought down the cooling systems at a Microsoft data center in Texas, leaving users across the region and beyond unable to access Office 365 services including Exchange, SharePoint, Microsoft Teams, and Azure.
  • A November outage of Microsoft’s multi-factor authentication service, which left users around the world unable to access any of their Office 365 services — with many locked out for the entire day.

If your company relies on anytime access to Office 365, these should serve as a wakeup call that it’s time to find a reliable, easy-to-use solution for backing up and retrieving your Office 365 data. Your first step: speak with a trusted third-party Office 365 data protection expert.

Prepare for the unexpected. Learn more about backing up Office 365 data by downloading our white paper, “Even the Cloud Experiences Storms.”