SharePoint Online Backups

Hi, We are using SharePoint Online with a single site collection and a number of sub-sites. We are at the stage were we are considering Backup policies/solutions. What exactly is the default situation, i.e. if a user accidently delete a file today, how long into the future can that file be retrieved? Is this configurable and what other options should we consider? Thank you for your time, Ollie
8 Replies
best response confirmed by Chris Webb (MVP)
A deleted file or item can be recovered from the Recycle bin for 93 days.

Also in a document library, 500 versions of files are stored, so in the event of a file being overwritten / corrupted, you can restore a previous version.

You could configure retention policies, so any file changes or deletions are captured and retained for a defined period - e.g. for a Finance site, perhaps retain for 7 years.

And by the way, Microsoft does not provide granular backup and restore, so you are limited to the options mentioned by Rob

I agree with the points noted by @Rob Ellis . However, Rob said 'You could configure retention policies, so any file changes or deletions are captured and retained for a defined period - e.g. for a Finance site, perhaps retain for 7 years.'


If you create a retention policy (in the O365 Security and Compliance admin portal under 'Classifications') and apply it to a SharePoint document library, it is not possible to delete anything from that library, which we found can be annoying for end users. If you don't want end users to delete, uncheck the delete option from the group (contribute/edit) permissions. 


You might also consider breaking up your single site collection and creating more context-specific sites from the existing sub-sites, then applying site specific permissions and retention policies to the libraries. 


Also consider, if you have Win10 devices, asking users to use the 'Sync' option in the libraries to sync the content to their local machines. Our end users quickly adopted this option to avoid having to go to the browser every time, and often said that they considered the browser based version as the 'cloud back up'. 

@Andrew Warland regarding the deletion issue - that sounds like you are using labels, rather than a site level retention policy.

There is a difference in behaviour when applying a label with associated retention, I agree.  I documented it here.

@Rob Ellis thanks, yes, I was referring to retention labels applied to document libraries. Users cannot delete documents when this happens, which I actually think is correct behaviour as 'retention is retention' - there would be no point in making a document 'invisible'.


This touches on when a retention label should be applied to a library (assuming you use this option). Administering a reasonably large and active environment (500 site collections, users cannot create their own), we found that (a) most records that need to be kept are in team sites (including separate project sites), (b) team sites can remain active for years, but (c) project sites tend to last for the life of the project. 


Accordingly, our retention model is to apply retention labels to inactive libraries in team sites, and at the site level in inactive project sites (and also old inactive or redundant team sites). 


One of the reasons we decided on applying labels to inactive libraries, and using the option 'when label was applied' (rather than date created or modified) as the trigger was to facilitate the disposal review process. Otherwise you'd end up with a trickle of records over time. 


I think, based on long experience with other DM systems, that active libraries should remain active - allowing add/delete. 

As @Juan Carlos González Martín mentioned Microsoft does not have granular backup/restore but you can get these features through AvePoint which offers complete Office 365 coverage. Data would also be backed up for up to for times a day and you would be able to retrieve it at any time in the future. You can read more about the product here.
@Oliver McErlane 

@Oliver McErlane Microsoft right now does not have any backup option. Although they allow third-party applications to partner with them to provide the type of services you are looking for. I searched for some solutions myself and found the following list. In no particular order,







@Philip_Foden we are evaluating these two vendors at the moment


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