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Backup and Replication in Office 365

So, you’re using Office 365. It’s a great product that offers a lot of benefits but – and this might surprise you – backups aren’t one of them. You could be forgiven for thinking they are, since data security is a big part of Microsoft’s pitch for Office 365. However, there’s a big difference between replication (which you do get in Office 365) and a backup (which you don’t).

Backup vs. Replication

Backup is the process of making a secondary copy of data that can be restored to use if the primary copy becomes lost or unusable. Backups usually comprise a point-in-time copy of primary data taken on a repeated cycle – monthly, weekly, hourly or every few minutes.

Replication involves transferring data to a secondary location either immediately or with a short time delay. Both methods create a secondary copy of data, identical to the primary copy, but with replication, only one copy of the data is kept at the secondary location. This means that the replicated copy doesn’t include historical versions of data from preceding days, weeks and months, unlike a backup.

This means that any data corruption or user file deletion is immediately (or very quickly) replicated to the secondary copy, therefore making it ineffective as a backup method. For example, some of the things replication won’t protect you from are:

  • File or data corruption – If the file or data itself becomes corrupted, due to a bug in your code or mechanical failure, then that data is lost as the corruption is copied to all the replicas.
  • Accidental Deletion of files, data, or the entire storage account.
  • Losing control of the account to someone else – if someone gets rights to your subscription or account they can do whatever they’d like to it, including deleting it.

Ensuring Your Operations

Don’t get me wrong, replication is a great feature to have in Office 365. It ensures continuity of service in the event that a datacenter is compromised, which is more than you could hope for if the same applications were running on your server. It’s just not the comprehensive protection that a backup offers.

There are plenty of options for backing up Office 365 (as well as your other cloud data and applications). Just remember, it is critical that your backups not be stored on your primary storage system. If you lose the system, you lose your backup data and the ability to recover it.

If you’ve just realized your data isn’t as secure as you thought and want to discuss your options, get in touch with Prophet’s IT support team.

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