Microsoft 365 Backup Gaps You Need to Know & How to Regain Control over Your Data

With millions around the world relying on Microsoft 365 (previously Office 365), it is rapidly becoming the go-to productivity suite for businesses of all sizes however; many are completely unaware of one misconception that has dangerous implications on one’s business continuity.

Many do not know that Microsoft's backup policies is actually limited and that it does not guarantee a complete and quick restoration of lost data.

This article aims to provide greater clarity on where Microsoft’s responsibilities regarding backup and recovery end — and where yours begin. With this knowledge, you can then confidently harass the full potential of your Microsoft 365 investment without ever worrying about data loss.

Microsoft Data Backup & Restoration Limitations 

“Why do I need to back up a cloud solution like Microsoft 365?

Doesn’t Microsoft take care of it?”

To answer this, let us take a closer look at the extent of what Microsoft offers.

Do you know Microsoft is only responsible for its infrastructure? Microsoft operates on a shared responsiblity model. This means that Microsoft is only responsible for maintaining the high availability and overall security of its cloud service, while the responsibility of the DATA residing in Microsoft 365 is YOURS. You are ultimately responsible for the recovery of your data in the event of a data loss.

Microsoft Shared Responsiblity Model_AvailEase Managed Microsoft 365 Backup

Data loss can and will happen when you least expect it. The most common causes are as below. To a certain extent, Microsoft has done a great job in mitigating these issues but is helpless when it comes to Human Error - the most common cause of data loss in Microsoft 365.


Accidental deletion
(Human error)


Virus / Malware

server (2)

Hardware failure


Software failure


Natural disaster

Let me now explain why is this so in relation to the key Microsoft 365 applications:

Outlook and Exchange Online - Retention Limitations

We all know deleted emails are moved to the Deleted Items folder but what happens if you empty that folder? Are these emails still recoverable? If you keep these emails in the Deleted Items folder, how long are these kept in there before they are permanently removed?

Microsoft does offers some protection against end-user deletion errors, with its default email retention period of 14 days. This can be extendable up to 30 days however; beyond this period, the deleted emails are unrecoverable. So say for example if 3 months down the road, you suddenly realized that you accidentally deleted an important email, unfortunately that data is gone indefinitely.

Another issue to note is when you need to preserve the mailboxes of individuals that have left your organization. Once an account is deactivated, the data within the account is removed. As a result, some companies are still paying extra just to maintain these inactive licenses.         

Outlook Exchange Limitation

SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business – Retention Limitations

Here the retention policy is slightly longer - 93 days. But similarly, once the deleted document, library or folder exceeds the retention period, the data is unrecoverable.

Document Versioning does provides some protection allowing you to restore back to previous versions in the event data is corrupted but it does not protect against accidental deletion. 

SharePoint OneDrive Limitation

Backup & Retention Policies are NOT a Substitute for a Complete Backup & Restoration Solution.

Microsoft has these layers of protection but there are still multiple downsides. Firstly, keeping up with and managing the evolving policies is time-consuming and inconvenient. Secondly, even when data is retrievable, the process is long and complicated, and retention policies vary for each application.

Lastly, these backup and retention policies DO NOT provide a complete backup solution. Microsoft themselves, in their service agreement recommends leveraging on 3rd party services for regular backup and added data loss protection. (See screenshot below)

Microsoft Service Agreement Snapshot

Evaluation Criteria for Microsoft 365 Backup Solution

More SMEs and enterprises alike, are complimenting their Microsoft 365 with a 3rd party backup solution for added data loss protection. Here are the key questions to keep in mind when selecting the right solution, as well as why AvailEase Managed Microsoft 365 Backup can be that complete backup solution for you:

AvailEase Managed Microsoft 365 Backup

1. How easy is it to implement and use?

AvailEase Managed Microsoft 365 backup offers a hassle-free, fully managed cloud-to-cloud backup solution. Our team of Microsoft specialists takes care of all of your backup needs and worries, so you can focus on more pressing business matters.

2. Does it cover all your Microsoft 365 data?

It is important to look for a solution that gives you complete backup of all your Microsoft 365 data. With AvailEase, you get full data backup across the Microsoft 365 suite of tenants (Exchange Online, SharePoint, OneDrive and Microsoft Teams) with UNLIMITED storage and retention, so you will never feel like you have to compromise as all data is permanently stored.

3. Is your data kept safe, in transit and once stored in the cloud?

With industry leading 256-bit encryption, you will have peace of mind that your data is always protected against cyber-attacks or leakages.

4. How quick and easy is it to restore data?

AvailEase’s user-friendly web console allows easy search and restore capability with just a few clicks, cutting down the recovery process from an average of six hours to mere minutes. Be up and running again in the shortest possible time and eliminate costly business disruptions.

5. Are you able to search and restore individual items and not just entire mailboxes/libraries?

Our easy-to-use granular recovery feature ensures that you are not limited to restoring mailboxes or libraries in their entirety, but also be able to recover specific files, emails or documents. This also supports point-in-time recovery for better disaster recovery and RPO.

6. Is there reliable technical support?

Our network operations center provides 24x7 backup monitoring and alerts to ensure the integrity of your data backup. Never have to worry about data loss with experts keeping eye on your critical data around the clock.

7. Does it offer an affordable and flexible solution that grows with your business?

AvailEase offers great scalability with our fixed fee per-user subscription model – in short, you only pay what you need and be assured of a more predictable monthly IT spending.

Want reliable Microsoft 365 backup & protection against data loss?