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Back-up tools for Office 365

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Current status of my research: AvePoint, Barracuda and Metalogix are unable to backup Microsoft Teams. Waiting for API.

Hello Micheal,

 

For your Office 365 export and archiving needs, I would suggest you to try free trial version of Vyapin Office 365 Management Suite and Office 365 Archiver.

 

For Backup, Archive, reuse your Office 365 mail items, folders, boxes, user data, tasks and more you can use Vyapin Office 365 Export Tool.

 

To Archive SharePoint sites and libraries along with the corresponding schema and metadata, You can try Office 365 Archiver.

Looks like a very limited tool to export information at a client level. What evidence exists that this is a tool that can do enterprise level backup?

Yes, you are correct, it is not a complete enterprise level back up, not yet. The tools are evolving and we are currently working on other elements of O365, should get there soon.  However, for users who are looking for specific back up needs in SharePoint online and Exchange online, these tools may be of help.

So what are the "specific backup needs"? Is this like moving copies of messages to a PST?

Can you handle Groups, Teams, and Planner or do you just do basic workloads?

Yes, the exchange online export tool covers mailboxes, public folders, contacts, tasks etc. The Sharepoint online archive tool covers almost all content level backup.

Right, but where do you back stuff up to and how can it be recovered?

 

Not to put too fine a point on this topic, I continue to search for the "perfect" (or at least, near-perfect) backup tool for Office 365 tenants. Right now, I can find:

 

  • Tools that deal with the two basic Office 365 workloads - Exchange Online and SharePoint Online
  • Tools that backup to on-premises systems or cloud datacenters
  • Tools that can handle some aspect of the integrated Office 365 apps, but not all

I think that the industry as a whole is still limited by the on-premises roots of the majority of backup tools. These tools work well in an on-premises environment but struggle in the cloud when they have to deal with issues such as:

 

  • Greater data volumes (like Exchange Online 100 GB mailboxes)
  • New ways of storing data (like Exchange expandable archives)
  • New applications (like Teams, Planner, and Groups)
  • New infrastructure challenges (like moving masses of backup data across the internet)
  • New requirements (like data soverignity and GDPR)
  • New technical challenges (like handling the wider use of encryption technologies inside Office 365 because IRM is much easier to deploy and use in the cloud, or the lack of a suitable backup API for most of the Office 365 data sources)

 

No backup vendor that I have spoken with in the last few years has good answers to these questions. Some, like AvePoint, have made a start to move from their on-premises roots to support the new applications. Most remain focused on the basic workloads and ignore the new challenges. Hence the reason why I challenge any backup vendor who posts here to proclaim the wonders of their tool. All have nice marketing material, few have good answers to the questions that I pose.

 

Tony - how did you get on with the vendors at ignite? Have any of the o365 backup solutions moved on..?

Nope. Things remainded pretty well as they were. I talked about the topic in my "Ten critical areas for those moving from Exchange on-premises to Office 365" session, but no vendor rose to the bait to tell me that they had a better solution!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvNcHkbEhwA

Hey @Tony Redmond and @Sie Harris,

 

have you looked into the latest release from the AP Cloud Backup? It finally covers all the points and  questions you mentioned. Feel free to ping me, if there's still a question and you need more info.

 

Rob

I have never heard of "AP Cloud Backup."

 

As to "finally covers," you'll forgive me if I retain some disbelief until I see a backup service that can deal with the complexities of Groups, Teams, and Planner as well as the basic workloads (Exchange, SharePoint, and OneDrive) and can handle the volume of data generated by a moderately large and busy tenant. 

:D Fully understand your concerns.

 

I mean exactly AvePoint Cloud Backup, which covers Exchange, SharePoint, Groups (+Group under a Team), Exchange Public Folder, Project Online, Dynamics 365 (starting December).

 

Conversation in Teams, or some metadata in Planner cannot be kept, since Microsoft says, "we cannot imagine, why it would be useful to backup Planner information" and therefore we do not provide an API (yet). Hence, whenever the API will be available, partners will be able to also cover these last things. :)

 

Since the backup solution is 100% Azure hosted, it perfectly scale out and therefore already successfully backup tenants with several TB in size. I still understand, why you still raise your eyebrow, but just give it a try. :)

I had a conversation about AvePoint Backup with some of their executives last week. AvePoint is the first backup vendor to support Office 365 Groups (except those that use Yammer to hold their conversations), so they get some kudos for that.

 

Chats in Teams are preserved in Exchange mailboxes - but the problem is that it is impossible to rebuild a conversation from the individual items that constitute a chat without great effort. The metadata about stuff like channels is available through the Graph. All in all, an imperfect situation.

 

Saying that a solution will scale out perfectly just because it is hosted on Azure conveniently ignores the salient point that backup data must first transit from the customer tenant to Azure. I'm not convinced that this is as scalable as you assert, especially when Office 365 provides no APIs designed to backup data, which means that all backup vendors are forced to use APIs created for other purposes.

 

So, I am familiar with AvePoint... but while it is better than most, it's still not what I am looking for.

Hi @Tony Redmond, since the SaaS solution resides in the same datacenter like the customer's tenant, there are huge bandwidths. Similar to Microsoft's High Speed Migration API, but just the other way around.

 

For the Team Chats and all around it, again, since there's no API at all, vendors are limited in certain ways.

 

And sorry to say that, and don't get this personal, but awaiting a "Backup-API" is quite naive in my opinion. What would happen, if developers only use APIs in this way, how the OEM would like to have them used? We would have only 5% of solutions in the market today. Interpreting APIs in different ways made partners like Nintex or Bamboo possible and make solutions like Flow, PowerApps or Bots in Teams useful. Without that, life would be sad :( ;)

 

Happy to further chat with you offline. I don't want to convince, just would like to understand and discuss other ideas and opinions. :)

Yes, I realize that the Azure datacenters and the Office 365 datacenters are colocated. However, that doesn't guarantee that a backup product can stream information as quickly as you might imagine. Apart from the network paths, there are other limitations, like throttling and API constraints. I would like to see independent proof of throughput.

 

I'm not waiting for a backup API and do not expect Microsoft to deliver one. After all, their message is that you do not need backups. The point is that all backup vendors depend on whatever APIs exist to stream data out of Office 365 and, if necessary, recover that data in a usable manner. I accept that this is very possible for the basic workloads, but as Office 365 becomes more integrated and more applications are built on top of the fabric (like Teams and Planner), the old-fashioned and on-premises centric notion that backups are necessary becomes less and less valid. IMHO, of course.

When it comes to backup Office 365 Backup solutions there you can easily get more than 100 3rd party tool to backup. Among them, each has there own pros and cons. The one I liked was SysTools Office 365 backup & restore tool that helped me to create the backup of office 365 to PST and EML format. This tool is the cheapest tool in the list and one can easily test this utility by downloading the free demo version. 

Hi @Stephen Mag, your solution is Exchange ONLY! And only export. For Import you need to buy another tool. :D

 

@Tony Redmond: One last note here. Throttling is already addressed with App Pools and as I said, scalability through Azure. I'm not convincing you, just sharing some facts. :) Have a great X-mas time.

One question about Azure... it can be expensive when you start to use many resources. What costs are involved in backing up say 1,000 mailboxes with an average size of 20 GB and 200 sites holding 5 TB of documents?

Hi @Stephen Mag,

 

Your contribution is appreciated! :) 

 

I think the main issue in this topic is that all the tools we find are only partial able to back-up data. Of course, for many companies files and email are still the most important types of data. But as we move more and more to the other tools, we need a back-up tool we can install now and that covers everything across Office 365, not just files and email. We don't want to change back-up tools every year :)

Hi, @Robert Mulsow 

Working with SysTools, I personally tried this Office 365 Backup and Restore tool and found that user can easily take backup and Import it into office 365. As you can see in the image both options are given:3

 Free demo version is available so you could try this tool once before coming to any solution. 

Thanks

 

Hi @Michiel van den Broek

Yes, I agree with you but investing $19 on SysTools Office 365 Backup & Restore for the unlimited period of time is not a bad idea as it can be useful in various scenarios. Also, it covers most of the things like backup office 365 files, mailboxes, contacts, calendars, manage multiple users accounts, export to PST and EML format, import multiple pst file to office 365. 

 

Stephen, don't you work for SysTools? At least... that's what your profile indicates.

 

SysTools.jpg

 

And if so, why would I not be surprised that you would advocate spending money on a tool that is utterly useless as an Office 365 backup program (in all but some limited circumstances). 

 

But then again, isn't it also true that SysTools spends a great deal of time and energy pushing its tools to anyone who will listen using social networks and other forums? 

 

Just wondering...

Hi, @Tony Redmond 

This thread was started with a query:

"Started this question a while back on Yammer. What tools do you use to backup mail and files stored in Office 365?"

I m not giving any false statement here. I shared my point of view as I tested this tool personally. Here, in this thread, I just explained its features that what it can do.

 


Tony Redmond wrote: 

But then again, isn't it also true that SysTools spends a great deal of time and energy pushing its tools to anyone who will listen using social networks and other forums? 

 

Just wondering...


No one is pushing anyone to buy their tools. It's up to them that what they want they are getting. 

 

Thanks & Regards 

Stephen

Right, anyone can make a recommendation - but when you work for a vendor and you make an explicit recommendation that someone should purchase your product, it is good manners to advertise that fact. If you don't, then the recommendation is automatically suspect because you're simply hyping software in the hope of a sale. 

I would recommend UpSafe Office 365 Cloud Backup

 

It's one of the best backup solution for Office 365 backup, and certainly the most COST-EFFECTIVE one. 

 

It can backup and re-store emails, contacts, calendar, OneDrive and Sharepoint. Encryption, GDPR-compliance, granular or full recovery are all included.

I have never heard of Upsafe and know of no customer who uses this technology to backup Office 365 data.

 

Saying something is GDPR-compliance is misleading. Backups don't make anything GDPR compliant.

 

Reading the documentation makes me think that Upsafe does Exchange and SharePoint, but it can't handle other Office 365 applications like Teams, Planner, and Yammer (add Stream, etc. as you want). So it's yet another in the long list of backup applications that take the same old on-premises attitude to backup and try to apply it to cloud data. In this case, it looks like Upsafe uses Amazon Web Services to store the backup data on S3, which is fine as long as it meets your data sovereignty needs. However, it's impossible to say as the FAQ or other information on the web site doesn't have enough technical depth to know how the product works.

 

I see that @Juan Carlos González Martín is cited on the web site in a 2015 endorsement, so I'd be interested in hearing from him as to whether this application is worthwhile. However, I also think that a 2015 comment is absolutely worthless today given the amount of change that has happened inside Office 365 in that time.

 

Also, I have a natural caution about any company whose web site is cluttered with language errors. As in "We are a bunch of nerds from all over the word who gathered around this project."

 

I'm happy to be proven wrong... maybe Upsafe is capable of dealing with the full gambit of Office 365 data.

 

TR

Ey Tony,
Sincerely, I had totally forgotten I had written a review for this product and I don't even remember the original reason why I wrote...if you go to my post (I know it's in Spanish) I simply evaluate the product from the point of view of the use the tool makes of Office 365 APIs...at this time the product was in Beta and I didn't mention any recommendation to use it...in general I have followed your comments about Office 365 backup topic and I totally agree with them....when a customer asks me about Office 365 backup I have to tell them the true reality about what Office 365 backup means and also de implicit limitations any called Office 365 backup tool has

No worries JCM,

 

This is one of the reasons why I do not write reviews of products. You end up in the situation where you (and your reputation) are used by the vendor to justify their product for years afterwards, even when technology has changed so much that the conditions you wrote about have long since disappeared in the waters of history. I imagine that you looked at Upsafe with SharePoint in mind... and as things like Groups, Teams, and Planner didn't exist, you reviewed the product on that basis. Office 365 changes so quickly that a review starts to smell soon after it is written... and unfortunate fact of cloud life.

 

TR

Most companies want to get rid of PSTs because these files are insecure and post a real risk in terms of information leakage, as Sony discovered some years ago.

 

I personally think that anyone who wants to backup Office 365 data to PSTs is suffering from a mild form of self-delusion. Sorry if I insult anyone... But you need help.


@Tony Redmond wrote:

Most companies want to get rid of PSTs because these files are insecure and post a real risk in terms of information leakage, as Sony discovered some years ago.

 

I personally think that anyone who wants to backup Office 365 data to PSTs is suffering from a mild form of self-delusion. Sorry if I insult anyone... But you need help.


It means that one should stop you using MS Outlook also. If you think so that PST is a bad format then you should recommend Microsoft stop giving new updates. 

Still, the large number of organizations have their data stored in PST file format.

 

 


Rylan King wrote:

It means that one should stop you using MS Outlook also. If you think so that PST is a bad format then you should recommend Microsoft stop giving new updates. 

Still, the large number of organizations have their data stored in PST file format.

 

 


You don't need to stop using Outlook. PSTs were invented a long time ago when mailbox quotas were small (like 50MB to 100MB) to give users more space. We're talking 20 years ago... But time moves on and Office 365 makes 100GB quotas available to users, so there is no need to continue using PSTs. 

 

The PST is an insecure (passwords are easily cracked) and fallible file format. Storing content in PSTs means that it is not indexed and discoverable. Companies cannot apply policies to content held in PSTs (DLP, retention, classifications). In short, PSTs are a horrible thing to have. They should be eradicated from all Office 365 deployments as quickly as you can, which is what many major companies are doing now. The problem is that PST eradication takes lots of preparation and is costly, but it has to happen... IMHO.

 

See https://www.quadrotech-it.com/what-are-pst-files-and-why-do-they-matter/ for more...

Tony,

 

    In what way are .OST files better for security than .PST files, or are you suggesting that all email be accessed through the browser?

 

Thank you,

 

Steve

 

Great message from @Tony Redmond. We should not only do, what a customer or a business unit wants, we should always advise on best practices and recommendations. Only in this way, when thinking pro-actively, the business prepares for the future and stays competitive. Otherwise, companies are in danger to fail the digital transformation and then fail their business.

 

For the OST vs. PST question. The first one is only a local temporary copy of PST content, hence, it's even worse to use this as a backup. There are a couple of good 3rd party solutions in the market (like AvePoint, Veem, Skykick, etc.) to backup in a more secure format including encryption. This does not only apply to email, but also to the other data stored in Office 365. In line with Tony, I'd recommend to go away from those PST "backup" and use real backup tools.

 

Consider this like a car insurance. You don't really want to use it, but if something happens, you're happy when you have an insurance, which covers everything (and not only the tires ;) ).

An OST is tied to a mailbox and can only be opened by the owning mailbox (they match with MAPI ID). A PST can be opened by any Outlook client, so it is inherently less secure than an OST (that being said, utilities exist to convert an OST to a PST). 

 

Another point is that you can use the Outlook slider to restrict the amount of information synchronized to the OST. If you were worried, you would keep maybe the last three months of mailbox data in your OST.

 

However, I am not really concerned about OSTs. These files live on personal laptops and workstations and can be encrypted using BitLocker. What I am worried about is where people put PSTs on shared drives or use PSTs to swap information with others. This is what happened in the Sony hack - attackers were able to access file servers and grabbed PSTs from those locations. That's much easier than trying to hack into multiple user PCs to look for PSTs... But again, if a non-protected PC falls into the hands of an attacker, both PSTs and OSTs can be compromised.

 

My advice (always) to CIOs is to minimize their company's exposure to risk by eliminating PSTs whenever possible. Sometimes PSTs are a necessary evil, as when you export eDiscovery results to PST to give data to an external expert, but you should always have a good and well-documented reason to put data in a PST.

Highlighted

*Disclaimer, I didn't find a product that would meet/match the requirements Tony*

At the last company I worked for I was tasked with evaluating products to backup O365.  I reviewed Barracuda, Backupify, Unitrends, and one other that slips my mind (I skipped AvePoint due to the price point).  While none of these products were perfect we did end up going with Backupify.  The reason we chose them were the ability to redirect restores both in Exchange, OneDrive, and SharePoint, they provided unlimited storage, and the method of restores were obvious for the user and provided security against overwrites.  They also had the ability to backup O365 group SP content.  With that said I had concerns about the data center reliability (I think they had two), the interface was clunky and didn't provide a lot of basic reporting I would like.  I also had an issue trying to restrict backing up certain things (which might sound counter-intuitive).  Was this a great product?  No, but it met the basic requirements of what we needed balanced against price.  My review of the products was in July-Aug 2017 time-frame so this product and others might have changed since then.

Chris

I should add at the time we started using the product we had a very small workload of data in O365 (probably 20 mailboxes and a few sites...35-40GBs). We were a company of about 250 people and I wouldn't have expected the overall data set to exceed 2TBs. I definitely had concerns when/if the data set reached or exceeded that level, and/or trying to do a restore of all those materials (the restores I did do the in the single GB size were decent).

Hey @Christopher Moore,

 

great use case, that you shared.

 

It's funny with the AvePoint pricing. :D Although they have changed their pricing entirely, there're always these rumors with too high prices. Would you check tool capabilities independently of prices or is it your first filter criteria?

Pricing isn’t necessarily the primary criteria but, as for many orgs, it looms large. In this case I didn’t look at AvePoint more fully due to the price point. You work for AvePoint right?

Hey @Christopher Moor,

sorry I didn't got back to you earlier. You're right, I'm working for AvePoint, but that's not the point. I like your wording (something like) "if it's the perfect tool, no, but it covers the use case..." This is exactly my view! I'd like to encourage people to compare options and chose the right one for their needs, not the perfect one. Therefore I was interested, why you're directly excluding options without really comparing.

Times are changing very fast and cheap products could be very expensive 6 months later (or the other way around) as well as missing features can be included a few months later. Hence, I'm not pushing for a certain product, I just want to encourage everybody to really compare in order to find the best product for their use cases. :)

Have a great day

Hello Frank,

 

I am very new to the backup & restore world and wanted to understand what are the recommendations on taking back up of Office 365 and SharePoint online.

 

Deepak S.

 

Deepak,

 

as with many other services, backup highly depends on requirements. For many of my customers there are corporate compliance rules demanding to physically own business-related documents. Means backup is not for restore options or DR only. Flexible tools with low complexity (and pricing) can do this job. But other customers may have other, possibly more complex, requirements (and also bigger budgets;-). Please contact me directly for a detailed discussion or consulting.

 

Thanks, Frank

Tony, do you have enough evidence from you customers that a complex backup/restore solution for Office 365 applications (such as Groups, Teams, Planner, StaffHub) is really needed?

Or it is pure theoretical exercise in capabilities of various commercial backup solutions?

 

Thank you

Oleg

I think there are three aspects to consider here.

 

First, Office 365 is a more complex environment and I don't think ISVs who market backup products for Office 365 can claim that their products handle Office 365 when they really only handle a defined subset, such as Exchange Online or SharePoint Online.

 

Second, there is a trend inside Office 365 to move some work to new apps (for example, from email to Teams). The new apps are relatively recent, but don't they deserve as much attention as the traditional apps, especially in an era when compliance and data governance has become more important.

 

Third, Microsoft says that a tenant's data is theirs... but unless you can extract and move that data, can that claim ever be tested? 

Hey @Tony and @Oleg Melnikov,

 

since more an more companies are using Groups and Teams, this becomes more and more important for an cloud backup solution. Hence, with Exchange only you don't have a comprehensive solution. I haven't heard the requirement for Planner, StuffHub or Project Online backup not that often - so far - but this can change in the future.

 

@Tony Redmond, I have to disagree with you point 3. Microsoft clearly states, it does NOT own your data. Microsoft is only data processor, but not data owner. This is also very important to know in regards to GDPR. However, this also makes clear, why customers need additional backup solutions, because Microsoft is not responsible for that. Please see the Office 365 Trust center if you've doubts:
https://products.office.com/en-us/business/office-365-trust-center-welcome
"With Office 365, it’s your data. You own it. You control it. And it is yours to take with you if you decide to leave the service."

"a tenant's data is theirs" means the tenant owns the data, not Microsoft. It is just one way of saying this in English.

 

And re. the quote... without the ability to backup (or extract) the data from apps like Teams, it will be impossible for a tenant to leave Office 365...

In case of components (mailbox, calendar, files) - there is a practical possibility to execute your rights for your data - there are plenty of tools that allow you to pick up your data and leave or move it to another service provider.
In case of more complex applications (Groups, Teams, Planner, StaffHub) - even if you will be able to pick up your data and leave Microsoft - where will you move it? There is no mapping or migration tool that will move your Teams for example to an alternative service provider’s application.

So the only practical scenarios where I can see one will need a full backup and restore capabilities for complex applications are:
1. User error (accidentally deleted or modified data in unreversable way);
2. Ransomware (shared data is encrypted due to attack on a computer of one of the users).

Any other real use cases?

You're right that there is no viable target for something like Teams right now, but that's because Microsoft doesn't have an API to allow developers build something like a Teams to Slack (or another app) tool. It's an obvious and glaring gap at the moment that I have been pretty strong about when I have had the chance to talk to Microsoft on the topic.

Hey @Oleg Melnikov,

 

check out this free ebook for cloud backup. There you can find further use cases. Your mentioned cases are the top 2, so great Job! :)

https://www.avepoint.com/unlimited-cloud-backup-ebook/

 

Also, there are sill technical glitches (even I recently had with Office 365) or rogue Administrator, which can also require a backup solution, just to name two further examples. But again, these are just examples and every company should evaluate themselve, if this is really something, which is happening in this company (and how often) and if they want to secure these use cases with a dedicated backup solution.

Phil, which document this comparison table was taken from?

We use Keepit, selected it as will backup everything on office 365, emails. SharePoint, teams etc.

 

Not had much need for restore, but when needed it works well.

 

 

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