The 411 of Cloud Backup Rules

The 411 of Cloud Backup Rules

The 411 of Cloud Backup Rules

By Paul LaPorte | December 09, 2015

Onsite vs. cloud: How backup rules have changed

Backup, access, and compliance are the core elements of a backup strategy. When moving to the cloud, traditional backup rules have changed. Microsoft performs a backup every 12 hours, but that backup is only retained for 14 days – not long enough to meet even the shortest of access or compliance needs. If you need to recover for reasons beyond the scope of the recycle bin, your options are limited to only one – you place a request to Microsoft to perform a restore from one of these backups. This can take two days to process, and will overwrite all changes made since the backup was taken. There is no access to these backup files, so you cannot manage them offsite for longer periods. For more information on Microsoft backup and retention policies, read this Technet article.

This situation requires creative backup alternatives for most companies to meet internally or externally dictated requirements. Your company now has to decide how it will meet this new set of backup challenges.

Cloud Backup Strategies

Backing up SharePoint online content for business continuity, archiving, governance, or compliance reasons is challenging with several strategies:

  • Backing up content to another cloud storage location
  • Backing up to your on-premises location
  • Do nothing

After going through the above exercise, you must then decide:

  • How much to back up
  • How frequently
  • What to do with the backups once you have them

If O365’s 14 days of non-controllable backups is not sufficient, what are your options?

Option 1: Cloud-to-cloud backup


  • Continued investment in a pure cloud strategy.
  • Avoid the 14 day O365 backup limit.
  • Avoid being a data hostage to a vendor.


  • Cloud to cloud backup speeds are very slow, leading to unmet Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs).
  • Cloud backup data is orphaned from enterprise backup data.
  • Potentially cost prohibitive.

Option 2: Cloud to on-premises backup


  • Provides data assurance, flexibility, and peace of mind.
  • Cloud to on-premises backup is easily integrated into an enterprise backup process and strategy.
  • Offers complete control of compliance and other business requirements (i.e. e-discovery).


  • Breaks the paradigm of going to the cloud.
  • Slow backup speeds.

Prioritize Your Content

Bandwidth realities may prevent you from doing traditional backups as they take too long. This will require you to prioritize your content. What is the easiest way to do this? Have each department prioritize their content. To learn more about prioritizing content, read my free ebook 7 Steps to Creating a Successful SharePoint. Once you have a solid understanding of prioritizing content, this will help you quickly reduce the scope of your backup project.

Store Content in a Usable Format

Content stored in SharePoint is not usable without SharePoint. If the intent is to use a backup for purposes of accessing mission critical content during a service interruption, you need to think differently about your backup. Consider a backup solution that allows you to take your high priority content and store it in a native file format so users can quickly and easily use content with applications such as Word or Excel. Providing content in an accessible format will allow your end users to work without interruption.

For a good cloud to on-premises backup choice that stores in a native format, check out Essentials for Office 365.

Regardless of where you choose to store backup content, ensure end users have easy access to mission critical content at all times. This access requirement often leads us in the direction of on-premises, local storage where you have full administrative control, and your management capabilities are understood.

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Paul LaPorte

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Written By: Paul LaPorte