Backup and Recovery

Backup and Recovery: The process of safeguarding data by creating copies for restoration in case of loss.

Backup ensures data safety through unalterable copies, while Recovery restores data when necessary. Yet, 46% of small businesses haven't tested their backup plans, highlighting the critical need for regular testing to maintain data integrity and business continuity.

Backup and Recovery TL;DR

Backup involves creating unalterable copies of data to guard against unexpected losses. Recovery is the act of restoring this data when needed. Though you need to be aware that 46% of small businesses have never tested their backup and disaster recovery plan according to Riverbank’s Annual BDR Survey. Backup and Recovery (and testing), they're essential for maintaining data integrity and ensuring business continuity.

What is Backup and Recovery and How Does it Work?

Backup is the act of creating immutable snapshots of an organization's data to protect against loss, damage, or mutations like ransomware. Recovery, on the other hand, involves restoring this data, either to its original location or to a safe alternative. Together, they form an integral strategy to ensure data integrity and availability.  

While there are both onsite and cloud-based solutions that support this process, the essence remains: duplicating critical data for protection and restoring it as needed for business continuity.

What are the 3 Methods of Backup and Recovery?

Full Backup

This method involves creating a comprehensive copy of all data on a system, server, database, or any connected data source. It ensures that every piece of data is backed up for protection. While thorough, full backups can be time-consuming, especially with large data sets. Modern data management solutions aim to minimize the frequency and duration of full backups.

Incremental Backup

Starting with a full backup as its foundation, incremental backups then only capture new or changed data since the last backup, be it full or incremental. This method significantly reduces the amount of data stored and speeds up the backup process. However, recovery can be more complex, as it may require the last full backup and all subsequent incrementals.

Differential Backup

After an initial full backup, differential backups capture all changes made since that last full backup. Unlike incrementals, they don’t consider changes from the most recent differential or incremental backup. While storing more data than incremental, they simplify the recovery process, as you'd only need the last full backup and the latest differential.

How is Backup and Recovery Relevant to Microsoft 365?

Within Microsoft 365, Office 365 backup and recovery focus on protecting data across services such as SharePoint, OneDrive, Teams, Outlook and Exchange Online. While Microsoft offers built-in recovery for issues like accidental deletions or system glitches, a robust backup strategy for M365 backup is essential to shield data from broader threats and ensure its consistent availability and integrity.

Why is Backup and Recovery Important?

While backing up data is vital for safeguarding organizational assets, the real value emerges when that data is readily accessible during crises. Data backups are not just duplicates but lifelines during emergencies, damages, or unforeseen disasters. The primary goal is to ensure rapid recovery and restoration, maintaining business continuity. Thus, a robust backup strategy should be complemented by efficient recovery processes, ensuring both data protection and its timely accessibility.

What are the Data backup Methods?

Local Backup

Local backups involve storing data on premises close to your organization. This approach allows for quicker data backup and restoration times. This can be a cost-effective solution for smaller organizations that do not have a lot of data or that do not need to comply with strict data retention requirements. However, local backups are vulnerable to physical damage, such as fire or theft, and they can be difficult to access if your local storage device is not connected to a computer.

Cloud Backup

With cloud backups, data is stored offsite, typically in a secure data center managed by third-party providers like Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud Platform (GCP). Accessible from anywhere with an internet connection, cloud backups offer flexibility and scalability. Automated processes can be set up to ensure regular backups, and the offsite nature provides protection against local threats. It's often seen as a cost-effective solution, especially when scaling storage needs.

Hybrid Backup

Hybrid solutions combine the best of both local and cloud backups. Organizations leverage the speed and accessibility of local backups while enjoying the security and scalability of cloud storage. This dual approach ensures robust data protection, offering a balance between quick access and disaster resilience.

What are the Data Recovery Methods?

File Restore

Focused on individual files and folders, file restore is the go-to method for quickly recovering specific lost or corrupted items. Instead of restoring the entire backup, you simply select the original file from the backup and restore it to the desired location. It's an efficient way to address specific end-user file recovery requests.

Image Restore

When you need to recover the entire system, image restore comes into play. Relying on a complete system image backup, this method is particularly useful in scenarios like system failures where restoring the entire device becomes necessary.  

Bare-Metal Restore

For the most severe cases, like when moving data from a compromised system to an entirely new device, bare metal restore is the preferred method. It ensures a clean start to a new system, eliminating concerns about lingering issues from the previous setup.

In addition to these three main methods, there are also a number of other data recovery techniques that can be used in specific situations.

What are the Challenges of Backup and Recovery in Microsoft 365?

  • Comprehensive Protection: One of the biggest challenges in backing up Microsoft 365 data is ensuring comprehensive coverage across all the various services and data types. Microsoft's native backup options primarily focus on Exchange Online, with limitations in covering SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, and other 365 workloads.
  • Data Retention: Microsoft 365's built-in retention policies may not always match an organization's specific requirements, potentially leaving gaps in data protection.
  • Data Recovery Time Objective (RTO): The RTO, which specifies the maximum acceptable downtime for data recovery, can also be a challenge with Microsoft 365 native backups. The recovery process can involve complex procedures and potential data loss, leading to extended downtimes that can disrupt business operations.
  • External Threats: With rising threats like ransomware, the importance of having robust external backup solutions becomes clear. Such threats can significantly impact data stored within Microsoft 365.
  • Data Volume Growth: As data volumes in Microsoft 365 continue to grow exponentially, managing backup storage and data retention becomes a significant challenge.  
  • Accidental Deletions: Human errors, such as unintended deletions, pose a risk. Once data is deleted and surpasses the recovery window, it may be permanently lost.

What are the Best Practices for Backup and Recovery?

Define your backup and recovery needs

The first step is to understand your organization's data protection needs. This includes the types of data to be protected, the frequency and retention period outlined in your organization's backup policy, and the required recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO).

Schedule regular backups

It's crucial to schedule backups consistently, tailored to the organization's data and operational needs.

Test Recovery Procedures

According to Security Magazine, disaster recovery testing frequency is low – only 50% of businesses test annually, with 7% not testing their disaster recovery set up at all. Regularly testing the recovery process ensures data can be restored effectively when needed, minimizing potential downtime.

Keep your backups up to date

It is important to update your backups regularly to ensure that they contain the latest data. This may require you to back up your data more frequently than you would otherwise need to.

Stay Updated

As Microsoft 365 evolves, its policies may change. Staying informed and adjusting backup strategies in response is essential. Join Alcion's Discord community to share feedback, ask questions, and engage directly with the Alcion team. Your input helps shape the future of data protection

Use Third-Party Solutions

For added security and flexibility, consider integrating third-party backup solutions into your data protection plan.

Discover the Power of for Office 365 Backup and Recovery

Navigating the complexities of Office 365 backup and recovery requires a robust cloud backup and recovery solution. precisely delivers that, combining advanced features with user-friendly interfaces.

Why settle for less when you can experience the future of cloud backup solutions? Request a PoC or schedule a demo to witness firsthand how Alcion can revolutionize your backup and recovery strategies.  Alternatively your first backup is just a few clicks away! Get started with a free trial of our platform.

Table of contents

Get Started With Alcion

Start a free trial (no credit card required) of Alcion or contact us to discuss your requirements and how Alcion might be able to help.

Get Started with Alcion - CTA Illustration