Does Microsoft Back Up My Microsoft 365 Data?

Created by On January 15, 2023 |  Last Updated On July 2, 2024
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Microsoft 365, which includes One Drive, Outlook, SharePoint, Teams and many others, is a cloud-based suite. As a result, Microsoft stores your files and data on cloud servers instead of saving them locally on your computer. Unfortunately, Microsoft provides some basic security features, but they do not fully protect and prevent data loss.

Does Microsoft Back Up My Microsoft 365 Data

Microsoft offers backup services, which may entail more than your business needs. The shared responsibility model gives rise to this, and we will explore it further in this article.

Does Microsoft Back Up My Microsoft 365 Data?

Microsoft only offers a partial backup solution for some of your Microsoft 365 data. However, some features help with some data recovery scenarios:

  • Version History: OneDrive and SharePoint allow you to restore prior versions of uploaded files and save them for a specific time (usually 30 days).
  • Deleted Items Folder: Emails deleted in Outlook can be recovered from the Deleted Item folder before the system empties them for a specific time.
  • eDiscovery and Legal Holds: It is helpful for legal issues but could offer a better solution when creating backups for data protection.

Microsoft 365 Backup (Preview)

Microsoft is developing a new service called Microsoft 365 Backup, which will allow organisations and enterprises to configure backup policies for OneDrive, SharePoint, and Exchange Online Mailbox Data. It offers features like:

  • Faster restores: Recover data in hours instead of days.
  • Improved protection: Protects against accidental deletion or even ransomware attacks.
  • Self-service options: Back up and restore data directly within the Microsoft 365 admin centre.

Why You Might Need Additional Backups

Even with Microsoft’s built-in features and the upcoming “Microsoft 365 Backup” service, there are situations where additional backups might be necessary:

  • Limited Control and Granular Recovery: You have minimal control over the backup process retention periods, and restoring specific files or folders from a particular point in time is possible.
  • Not Disaster-Proof: Major outages, data breaches, or accidental deletions (beyond the limited version history and deleted items folders) could still result in data loss.
  • Long-Term Archiving Needs: Microsoft’s solutions might not be sufficient if you need to keep data for an extended period for legal or compliance reasons.

Understanding Your Microsoft 365 Data

Before diving into backups, let’s establish what includes your Microsoft 365 data. Think of it as your digital workspace, containing everything you store:

  • OneDrive: Your cloud storage locker holding documents, photos, videos, and more.
  • SharePoint Sites: Collaborative workspaces for teams, often involved with documents, lists, and applications.
  • Exchange Mailboxes: Your email hub, storing messages, attachments, and calendars.
  • Teams Chats: Teams Chats serve as the communication centre for projects and collaborations, containing chat messages, files, and recordings.
  • Custom Applications: Built on the Microsoft 365 platform, these applications may hold unique data specific to your needs.

Protecting this digital data is crucial, ensuring seamless work and peace of mind.

Data Backup in Microsoft 365: The Shared Responsibility Model

Microsoft 365 offers some data protection features but acts as a safety net, not comprehensive backups. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Limited Retention Policies: Microsoft retains deleted data for a specific period, varying by service and plan. Beyond that timeframe, lost files might be gone forever.
  • Accidental Deletions: Rest easy knowing Microsoft can recover accidentally deleted files for a limited period (30 Days). But be wary: those files are gone for good once the grace period passes. Check out this article to learn How To Recover Unsaved Word Documents in 2024.
  • Ransomware and Compliance: Once Microsoft is practising safe or automatic deletion to some extent, it will ensure you do not delete your files. Ransomware locks it and encrypts your data; there is barely much Microsoft can do. Also, if your business or commercial enterprise has clear rules that data must not be retained, again, Microsoft native apps will not cut it, which, when reported, can be detrimental to your organisation to the extent of being considered out of compliance!

Exploring Microsoft 365's Built-in Data Protection Features:

Microsoft equips you with some built-in data protection tools, but remember, they’re not substitutes for dedicated backups:

  • Version History: A lifesaver for accidentally overwritten documents in OneDrive and SharePoint, allowing you to revert to previous versions.
  • Retention Policies: This helps keep data for a specific period, but recovering particular files or folders beyond that timeframe might be impossible.

The Importance of Additional Data Backup Solutions:

Some expenses considered redundant include: The only solution for a total backup is to get an offsite third-party backup. These solutions act like an additional safety vault, offering:

  • Automatic Backup: Keeps the data backed up somewhere frequently; you may have an old copy if you need to restore it.
  • Granular Recovery: You can recover exact files, folders, and an entire mailbox.
  • Disaster Recovery: Ensures higher protection against unfavourable incidents that may warrant shutdowns, such as ransomware attacks or natural calamities.
  • Compliance Support: Intended for the business documentation and compliance, guaranteeing you are ready.

Alternatives for Backing Up Your Microsoft 365 Data

Options to Protect Microsoft 365 Data

  • Third-Party Backup Services: Currently, many firms offer this backup service through the cloud for Microsoft 365. Some of these services can, for instance, take full backups on a daily/weekly/monthly basis without you having to trigger it and have superior options for restorations.
  • Local Backups: One can save the necessary documents in OneDrive or Microsoft 365 and access them offline by downloading them to the computer or an external hard disk.

Choosing the Right Backup Solution

The nature of the data you are backing up through the Microsoft 365 backup solution determines which is best for your business. Some factors are the size of your data, the degree of security required, and your budget.

Addressing Concerns: Answering Your Burning Questions

What if My Data Vanishes After the Backup Period?

Unfortunately, Microsoft’s automatic backups have a time limit. However, manually created backups or additional data storage solutions (like external hard drives) can bridge this gap for long-term protection.

What if My Data Gets Corrupted or Attacked?

While Microsoft’s backups offer protection, they might not be invincible against specific data corruption scenarios or cyber threats. Additional security measures like strong passwords and encryption can add another layer of defence.

Do Different Subscription Plans Offer Other Backup Options?

Some higher-tier Microsoft 365 subscriptions provide extended retention periods and additional data protection features.

Take control of your information with our in-depth guide: How Can I Backup My Microsoft 365 Data?


Microsoft 365 offers essential built-in data protection features but has limitations, particularly for long-term and disaster recovery. To ensure comprehensive data security, employing third-party backup solutions is vital. These provide automated backups, granular recovery options, and enhanced protection against outages, data breaches, and compliance issues.

While Microsoft 365’s tools are helpful, integrating additional backup measures ensures your critical information remains secure and recoverable.

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