The last few years have seen a significant increase in business’ reliance on Microsoft 365® (formerly known as Office 365), with the product quickly becoming the de facto standard. Five years after its initial launch in 2011, Microsoft 365 emerged as the most widely used enterprise cloud service by user count.
Today, with more people than ever working remotely, the importance of offering data protection and security for Microsoft 365 has never been greater for managed service providers (MSPs) hoping to secure their customers, both large and small.
Under the shared responsibility model, Microsoft is focused on the physical security of its data centers, the availability of active data, as well as authentication and identification within its cloud services. However, just because Microsoft accepts responsibility for the underlying infrastructure, that does not mean they own the data. User organizations, in conjunction with their MSP, are still responsible for the recoverability and retention of their data. Backing up Microsoft 365 data to the cloud is the best way to meet that responsibility.
We’ve discussed the importance of encrypted cloud backup and Microsoft 365 disaster recovery before, and—perhaps unsurprisingly—much of what was true then continues to be true today. Deploying your own third-party backup solution for Microsoft 365, like SolarWinds Backup, continues to be the best way to maintain control over your customers’ Microsoft 365 data.
To better understand the full range of reasons that MSPs should be performing regular Microsoft 365 cloud backups, here are nine key benefits cloud backups can bring:
MSP Benefits of Microsoft 365 Cloud Backup
1. BACKUPS PROVIDE PROTECTION AGAINST ACCIDENTAL DATA DELETION
Despite modern technology advances, any process that involves humans inevitably opens up the possibility for human error. Even when these errors are minor, they can easily result in the accidental deletion of important data. Whether a deletion occurs because an end user accidentally hits “delete” instead of “save,” or because of a clumsy PowerShell command, MSPs need to be able to keep these accidental data deletions from becoming permanent and eventually affecting their customers.
Unfortunately, Microsoft 365 doesn’t always provide the data retention capabilities that MSPs need. The default recycle bin retention period is set to 14 days. Though an administrator can change that period to 30 days instead of 14, that still does not leave a substantial amount of time to discover that something critical was accidentally deleted. If you don’t have a Microsoft 365 cloud backup process in place, that information will be completely unrecoverable once those 30 days are up.
Accidental deletion accounts for 70% of SaaS data loss. Without cloud backup, the risks are real—and MSPs responsible for protecting their customers’ data need to have a fail-safe in place to mitigate these risks.
2. BACKUPS HELP FILL IN RETENTION GAPS
Once an employee leaves a company, retaining their email data can be a costly endeavor. Maintaining access to said data in the long term can be important, as you never know when you might realize that a departed employee had the exact information you’re looking for. Unfortunately, Microsoft only retains email data for user accounts for a short period of time after the account is deactivated.
Given that most organizations likely don’t want to keep paying a monthly subscription fee for an employee who has left the company, the best way to make sure that email data is saved and available for use is by using a third-party backup solution. This backup solution can ensure that Microsoft 365 account data is still available, searchable, and recoverable, long after an employee leaves the company and their account is deactivated.
While it is possible to retain the data through Microsoft 365 itself if you share the account information with an active user before it is deleted, relying on this alone can leave a business vulnerable to accidental data loss. Whether it’s due to human error or miscommunication, simply relying on mailbox sharing to save your data could lead to an accidental violation of data retention policies. By using a third-party backup solution like SolarWinds Backup, you can retain Exchange data for seven years. That means no more paying to maintain active accounts for ex-employees or needing to worry about potential retention gaps.
3. BACKUPS OFFER PROTECTION FROM THE DANGERS OF INTERNAL THREATS
We generally like to think the best of people, especially our employees—but not everyone is always worthy of that trust. Even if we remove the possibility of human error, there’s always the chance that disgruntled or dishonest employees may intentionally put important data at risk.
If someone secretly deletes sensitive data and quietly waits for the recycle bin to run out the clock, you might find yourself in serious trouble with no way to recover critical data that has now been permanently deleted. Given that Microsoft 365 has no way of knowing if a deletion was accidental, intentional, or malicious, there is no available recourse once the recycle bin is emptied. The only way to protect your data in the face of malicious internal activity is through a third-party backup solution.
4. BACKUPS OFFER PROTECTION AGAINST THE LOSSES CAUSED BY EXTERNAL THREATS
On the other side of the coin, it seems like every day we hear about more hacks, viruses, and malware attacks. Especially with the current reliance on a largely remote workforce, those attacks are only increasing. When it comes to small and medium-sized businesses, the last few years have seen a significant increase in the number of cyber attacks, with approximately two-thirds of the world’s SMBs experiencing some form of cyber attack. With ever increasing numbers and types of malicious actors targeting SMBs, it’s more important than ever that MSPs offer Microsoft 365 backup for their customers. In the event that an attack is successful, the only way to recover deleted data is through an external third-party backup.
With SolarWinds Backup, frequent backups mean you can always restore your system to the most recent version before an attack. With automatic Exchange mailbox backups performed up to six times daily and automatic OneDrive and SharePoint account backups performed up to four times daily, you can choose exactly which version you want for fast recovery. Cloud backups may not be able to prevent cyber attacks—but they can certainly help minimize the damage when they occur.
5. BACKUPS HELP WITH MANAGING LEGAL AND COMPLIANCE REQUIREMENTS
Litigation holds can sometimes be unpredictable—but when they hit, you need to be prepared with all your data retained and available. Industry-specific data retention requirements are less unpredictable, but are still strict and generally go beyond what is covered at the Business Standard level of Microsoft 365. While the more expensive enterprise-level subscriptions do come with some native litigation hold functionality, it is only designed to preserve data for e-discovery purposes. It is not designed to restore lost data—a function that can be critically important in legal and compliance matters.
Whether you’re dealing with strict industry requirements or a litigation hold, you have two options. One is to spend substantially more on Microsoft 365 and upgrade to an Enterprise edition. This will give you data protection for litigation holds directly from Microsoft. The other option is using an external third-party backup solution while maintaining your Business Standard edition. When you go with the external choice, you can activate a cost-effective solution to help ensure you are meeting data retention guidelines for litigation holds or for standard compliance, and save money at the same time.
6. BACKUPS MEAN YOU’RE ABLE TO PROVIDE BETTER SUPPORT TO CUSTOMERS
When something goes wrong, your customers know to come to you for help. If your only data recovery option depends on you sending a Microsoft support ticket and waiting for a response, you will lose control of the situation and your customers will effectively be relying on Microsoft for support rather than their MSP. This reliance could impact your ability to satisfy your customers’ needs, and negatively affect their perception of your value.
When you instead have your own backup solution at your fingertips, you have access to the retained data yourself. That means you get to stay in control, delivering results to your customers fast—without having to involve another customer support team.
7. BACKUPS HELP YOUR MSP SAVE MONEY
The more expensive Enterprise editions of Microsoft 365 are often not worth the investment for many MSPs. The truth is that for smaller MSPs and their customers, many of the applications that come with the much higher price tag are unnecessary and irrelevant. When you combine the Business Standard version with a third-party backup solution, you can save money while getting a powerful alternative that fulfills all your needs.
8. THE RIGHT BACKUP CAN ALSO HELP YOUR MSP SAVE TIME AND EFFORT
The less time you spend performing tasks that can be automated or simplified, the more time you have to devote to your customers. With a third-party backup solution for Microsoft 365 that is integrated with server and workstation backup, you can strike the perfect balance between automation and control. A unified console allows you to manage backups for all your customers, across data and device types, all from one place. When you spend less time and effort managing backups, you can spend more time assisting your customers.
9. BACKUP SERVICES CREATE A NEW REVENUE OPPORTUNITY FOR MSPS
One final key benefit of MSPs offering quality Microsoft 365 cloud backup services is the ability to help you increase your revenue. The plain fact is that the more data protection an MSP offers its customers, the more it can charge for its services. The higher the quality of service and protection that an MSP offers its customers, the more value customers will see, and the more they will be willing to pay. Having a backup available for recovery at the right time when they think they may have lost important information can go a long way in boosting customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Microsoft 365 Cloud Backup with SolarWinds
In order to access the many benefits of having Microsoft 365 cloud backups, we recommend using a powerful data protection solution like N-able Backup. This tool was designed to help MSPs protect customer data effectively—all while saving you time and money. If you’re interested in learning more about how SolarWinds Backup can help you, a free 30-day trial is available here.