Apr 22, 2024
3 min read

Microsoft 365 Backup Retention Made Easy with Alcion

Microsoft 365 Backup Retention Made Easy with Alcion

Implementing a robust backup retention policy for Microsoft 365 can be a daunting task for many organizations. The challenges range from understanding the native retention capabilities of Microsoft 365 and their limitations to finding a solution that simplifies the process and ensures data protection and compliance.

However, there is a better way.

Alcion follows a backup retention scheme based on the GFS (Grandfather-Father-Son) algorithm. This is a popular strategy used for managing backups by saving different versions of data with varying frequencies.  

Alcion’s Backup Retention Scheme And How It Can Help You

In particular, for our Security tier, Alcion retains three backups per day for 30 days, one daily backup for 90 days, one weekly backup for 26 weeks, and then monthly backups forever. This represents a comprehensive approach, broken down below, that creates multiple layers of backup with varying retention periods to balance between accessibility, storage footprint, and data protection.

Let's break down each component of Alcion’s retention scheme:

1. Three backups per day for 30 days

  • This part of the scheme focuses on short-term Microsoft 365 data retention, offering high frequency backups that are retained for a month.
  • It allows for recovery from very recent issues like ransomware attacks, accidental deletions or corruptions that are identified quickly.
  • Alcion would store a total of 90 backups (3 backups/day × 30 days) after the first 30 days.

2. One daily backup for 90 days

  • After the first 30 days, the frequency of backups retained is reduced. Only one backup per day is kept and these are maintained for a total of 90 days.
  • This part of the strategy helps in situations where issues are not detected within the first month.
  • It provides a good balance between the recency of the data and storage efficiency.
  • In total, 90 additional daily backups are retained after the initial 30-day period (since the first 30 days of daily backups overlap with the three backups per day)
  • A total of 180 backups are retained at the end of the first 120 day period after backups are started.

3. One weekly backup for 26 weeks

  • As the backups age beyond 120 days, the retention frequency is further decreased to one backup per week, extending up to half a year.
  • This stage covers longer-term issues that may not be identified within the first few months.
  • This period accounts for a total of 26 weekly backups.
  • A total of 206 backups are retained at the end of the first 43 weeks since backups started.

4. Monthly backups forever

  • Beyond the first 26 weeks, the backup frequency shifts to a monthly basis indefinitely.
  • This long-term retention is crucial for compliance with certain regulations, historical data analysis, or disaster recovery scenarios.
  • The indefinite retention of monthly backups ensures that there is always a historical record of data, albeit with increasing gaps in time.

Why is This a Better Approach?

The GFS scheme implemented by Alcion allows for progressively reducing the frequency of backups as the data ages and allows us to pass on the improved cost-effectiveness to you in the form of lower subscription costs. It provides a robust framework ensuring that more recent data has more recovery points, while older data, which is less likely to be needed urgently, is stored with less frequency but for a longer or indefinite period. This backup retention scheme is particularly useful in environments where Microsoft 365 data integrity and availability over long periods are crucial. For example, in the financial services sector, companies like Milestone Financial Engineers rely on Alcion's comprehensive approach to address their compliance and long-term retention requirements. Similarly, healthcare and legal sectors can benefit from this robust backup retention strategy to ensure the protection and accessibility of sensitive data over extended periods.

What's Next?

Now that you understand how Alcion simplifies Microsoft 365 backup retention, assess your organization's current Microsoft 365 backup retention strategy and identify areas for improvement. Sign up for a free trial and see how Alcion can help or chat with our team on best practices to design and implement a backup retention policy that meets your organization's specific needs and compliance requirements. With Alcion this is easier than you’d expect.  

Ben Young
Ben Young
Technology Evangelist

Ben Young is a Technology Evangelist at Alcion with over ten years of experience in the Managed Service Provider (MSP) and Cloud Service Provider (CSP) markets. He's an expert in using APIs to automate complex tasks and integrate different technologies. His skills are recognized internationally, and he shares his knowledge through writing and speaking engagements. His passion is showcasing the art of the possible and being a product champion.