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In the realm of data management, ensuring the safety of your files is paramount. Office 365, while providing robust productivity tools, is not immune to data loss. Whether it’s accidental deletions, security threats, or retention policy gaps, data loss can strike when you least expect it. Thus, it’s crucial to establish an effective backup strategy for your Office 365 data. 

This blog post will guide you through various strategies to protect your data and ensure business continuity even in the face of unforeseen circumstances. Stay tuned as we delve into the world of Office 365 backups and how to make them work for your business.

Why Would I Need to Back Up My Microsoft 365?

Backing up your Microsoft 365 data is not just a good-to-have, but a necessity in today’s digital-intensive work environment. You might assume that your data is safe on the cloud, and while Microsoft does offer some level of protection, it’s primarily focused on infrastructure security. 

User error, intentional deletions, malware attacks, or other unexpected disasters could still lead to data loss. In these situations, a reliable cloud backup solution can be your safety net, providing an essential layer of protection to backup and restore data as needed. It’s your responsibility to ensure your business data is secure, accessible, and recoverable at all times, making a comprehensive backup strategy a vital part of your business continuity plan.

OneDrive Lacks True Backup Capabilities

Although OneDrive is a popular choice for storing files and documents due to its seamless integration with Office 365, it lacks the robust backup capabilities that businesses need for full data protection. OneDrive is, in essence, a file hosting service designed for simple file syncing and sharing. While it does offer some protection features, such as file versioning and recycle bin retention, these are far from a comprehensive backup solution. 

Importantly, OneDrive doesn’t protect against accidental deletion beyond 93 days, nor does it protect against malicious attacks or file corruption. In the event of a catastrophic data loss, retrieving files from OneDrive can be a time-consuming and arduous task, leading to potential downtime. Hence a true backup solution, one that allows for quick recovery of data, is essential for any business leveraging Office 365.

Microsoft Service Outages (or disruptions) May Result in Downtime and Data Loss

Occasionally, Microsoft services might experience outages or disruptions, which can result in both downtime and potential data loss. This usually happens due to problems in Microsoft’s infrastructure or severe cyber-attacks. During these periods, users can lose access to their Office 365 data, making it impossible to work, and even worse, some data might be lost during the outage, disrupting the workflow. Despite Microsoft’s best efforts to prevent such occurrences, the reality is, that they can and do happen. 

Therefore, having a reliable backup strategy is crucial. It can help businesses retrieve their data swiftly, ensure minimal downtime, and avoid productivity loss during such disruptions. Relying solely on the built-in backup capabilities of Office 365 is not sufficient to mitigate these risks. Implementing a comprehensive backup solution can offer the resilience and security needed to maintain business continuity and data integrity, even during Microsoft service outages.

Office 365 Recovery Tools Are Limited

While Office 365 does provide in-built recovery tools like the Recycle Bin and Version History, these are somewhat limited in their capabilities. The Recycle Bin, for example, only holds deleted items for 93 days, after which they are permanently lost. Similarly, Version History only retains previous versions of documents for 30 days. These tools also fall short when it comes to restoring data in bulk or recovering from serious incidents like ransomware attacks or widespread data corruption. 

Moreover, recovery operations often require complex administrative tasks, making the process time-consuming and challenging for non-technical users. Therefore, while these tools can be useful for minor data loss incidents, they cannot be relied upon as a comprehensive backup and recovery solution. For businesses using Office 365, investing in a dedicated backup and recovery solution is critical to ensure data integrity, business continuity, and effortless recovery in the event of a data loss incident.

Perma-Deletion in Office 365 is Irreversible

In the Office 365 environment, perma-deletion signifies an irreversible loss of data. When a file or an email is permanently deleted, either by choice or by surpassing the 93-day retention period in the Recycle Bin, recovery via inherent tools becomes impossible. This aspect underscores the crucial nature of a reliable backup and recovery solution. 

Without such a solution, significant data loss incidents could lead to the permanent loss of valuable business information, posing severe repercussions for business continuity, regulatory compliance, and overall productivity. Therefore, it’s essential to reinforce your Office 365 data management strategy with a dedicated backup solution that provides comprehensive protection against perma-deletion.

Office 365 Account Deletion Also Deletes All Data on Said Account

In the Office 365 environment, it’s important to note that deleting a user account also leads to the deletion of all associated data, including emails, contacts, and files. This deletion process is irreversible, and Microsoft does not provide a built-in method to retrieve this lost data. If an account is deleted, either intentionally or due to an administrative error, the loss of the associated data can significantly impact business continuity, productivity, and even regulatory compliance. 

Thus, the importance of a robust Office 365 backup and recovery solution can’t be overstated. Such a solution ensures data is backed up independently from user accounts, offering an invaluable lifeline in the event of accidental or intentional account deletions, and facilitating ease of recovery and business continuity.

Office 365 Isn’t Designed to Counter All Potential External Threats

While Office 365 comes with several security measures in place, such as encryption and multi-factor authentication, it isn’t built to counter all potential external threats. Cyber threats like ransomware, phishing attacks, and malicious insider activities pose significant risks to data stored on the platform. In these instances, the built-in protections of Office 365 might not suffice to prevent data breaches or loss. 

For instance, if a user falls victim to a phishing attack and their login credentials are compromised, an attacker can delete or corrupt data, bypassing the inherent protections. Additionally, Office 365 cannot protect against new, emerging threats, since it does not update its security measures in real-time. Therefore, to ensure comprehensive data protection, businesses must supplement Office 365 with a dedicated, robust backup and recovery solution that can promptly respond to and mitigate the impact of such threats.

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What Can Be Backed Up From Microsoft 365? Emails

When it comes to the components of Microsoft 365 that can be backed up, emails are a critical element. All the emails within Microsoft 365 mailboxes, including attachments, calendar appointments, and contacts, can be effectively backed up. This ensures that critical business communication and information embedded within emails are safe and can be restored easily in case of accidental deletion, data corruption, or malware attacks. 

A comprehensive backup solution would allow for easy search and recovery of individual emails or entire mailboxes, ensuring that businesses can uphold continuity, even when faced with unexpected data loss scenarios. Having a backup of emails not only safeguards crucial business information but also empowers businesses with the ability to restore their workflow swiftly.

Microsoft Exchange Server Contents

In addition to emails, the contents of the Microsoft Exchange Server can also be backed up comprehensively. This includes all data stored in mailboxes, such as emails, calendar entries, contacts, notes, tasks, and even the settings for out-of-office replies. By employing a robust backup solution, businesses can ensure that this essential data is protected against accidental deletion, system failures, or malicious activities. 

Furthermore, in the event of data loss, a comprehensive backup solution would allow for quick and easy restoration of the entire Exchange Server or individual mailbox items as needed, thereby minimising downtime and maintaining continuous business operations. This is particularly relevant in the context of PST files, which are an integral part of Microsoft Exchange Server data and are often prone to corruption or loss. By backing up these PST files, businesses can have a safety net that aids in the quick restoration of data, thereby ensuring business continuity and data integrity within the M365 environment.

SharePoint Server Contents

The SharePoint Server contents are equally important when considering what data to back up from Microsoft 365. SharePoint Server is a highly utilised platform that hosts websites, documents, lists, and other crucial business data. A robust backup and recovery solution can effectively protect everything from individual items to entire SharePoint sites, including files, versions, list items, and even site metadata and permissions. 

In the event of accidental deletion or corruption, a comprehensive backup solution can facilitate swift restoration of these items, minimising the disruption to business operations. It’s also worth noting that SharePoint Server backups can be particularly important for businesses subject to regulatory compliance requirements, as they ensure all necessary audit trails and document versions are preserved. 

Therefore, incorporating SharePoint Server contents into your backup strategy can add an extra layer of data protection, helping to enhance business continuity and compliance in the Microsoft 365 environment.

Microsoft Teams Data

In the realm of collaborative tools, Microsoft Teams has become indispensable for businesses, facilitating seamless communication and collaboration. It’s critical to include Microsoft Teams data in your backup strategy. This data includes various components such as conversations, shared files, meeting notes, and more. If any of this information is lost or compromised, it could disrupt team productivity and communication. 

A robust backup and recovery solution will ensure this data can be quickly restored, maintaining the continuity of team collaboration. Furthermore, backing up Microsoft Teams data ensures that even in the event of accidental deletions or malicious attacks, your business can swiftly resume operations with minimal downtime. Thus, data backup and recovery for Microsoft Teams is pivotal in protecting your Microsoft 365 tenant and ensuring comprehensive data protection.

How to Backup Microsoft 365 Data

Data backup in Microsoft 365 can seem like a complex task due to the diverse range of data types and the need for robust data protection. However, with the right approach and tools, backing up your Microsoft 365 data becomes a manageable process. This section aims to provide a comprehensive guide on how to back up your Microsoft 365 data, ensuring you have a failsafe mechanism to restore your crucial data in case of accidental deletions, system failures, or malicious attacks. 

Whether you are looking to back up your emails, Microsoft Exchange Server contents, SharePoint Server contents, or Microsoft Teams data, we’ll provide you with the steps to achieve a thorough backup of your Microsoft 365 environment.

Manual Microsoft 365 Backup

The process for manually backing up Microsoft 365 data involves several steps. 

Step 1: Export Mailbox to PST

To begin, you’ll need to export your entire mailbox, including emails, calendar entries, and contacts to a PST file. This can be done through the Outlook application. 

Step 2: Save SharePoint Data

For SharePoint data, you’ll need to manually download each file stored on your SharePoint sites. For backing up lists, libraries, and site metadata, you may use the export to Excel functionality. 

Step 3: Backup Microsoft Teams Data

Backing up Microsoft Teams data can be challenging due to the lack of native backup options. However, you can save conversations by copying them, and files can be downloaded individually. 

Step 4: Save OneDrive for Business Data

OneDrive for Business data can be synced to your local machine and this synced folder can be backed up to your chosen location. 

While this manual backup method can be time-consuming and may not provide a comprehensive backup solution, it is a viable solution for small businesses with less critical data. However, for a more comprehensive and effective backup solution, it is recommended to use third-party Microsoft 365 backup and recovery tools. These tools automate the backup process, ensuring all aspects of your Microsoft 365 data are thoroughly backed up and can easily be restored in case of data loss.

Automatic Microsoft 365 Backup

To streamline and secure the backup process, automatic backup solutions, such as Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365, are often the best choice. These solutions work around the clock, automatically creating backups of all your Microsoft 365 data, whether it’s emails, Exchange Server contents, SharePoint Server contents, or Microsoft Teams data. With Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365, for instance, you can schedule backups to run at the frequency that suits your business needs, ensuring your data is consistently updated and protected. 

In the event of data loss, these automatic backup solutions allow for fast and efficient data restoration. This level of automation not only reduces the possibility of human error but also frees up valuable time for IT professionals, allowing them to focus on other critical tasks. Thus, an automatic backup service is a prudent investment for any business seeking comprehensive data protection in the Microsoft 365 environment.

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Best Practices for Microsoft Office 365 Data Recovery

Utilise a Third-Party Backup Solution

Third-party backup solutions provide an essential layer of security in your Microsoft Office 365 data recovery strategy. These automated backup services offer comprehensive protection for all your Office 365 data, including emails, SharePoint data, and Microsoft Teams data, all seamlessly backed up to the cloud. Not only do these solutions save time and reduce the risk of human error, but they also ensure a swift and efficient recovery process in the event of data loss. 

One such recommended solution is Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365. With this tool, you can schedule automated backups, set retention policies, and restore data with ease, ensuring business continuity even in the face of unexpected data loss. By investing in a robust third-party backup solution, you’re equipping your business with a failsafe mechanism that ensures your vital Office 365 data is always protected.

Establish Your Backup Schedule

Establishing a consistent backup schedule is an imperative aspect of your data recovery strategy. The frequency of backups should balance the need to minimise data loss with the practicality of managing backup storage and resources. For instance, businesses dealing with large volumes of data changes daily may require daily or even hourly backups. Conversely, businesses with fewer data updates can afford less frequent backup schedules. With a solution like Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365, you can customise the frequency of your backups according to your business requirements. 

Remember, a robust backup schedule is not only about frequency but also ensuring backups are taken at a time that has the least impact on business operations. Consider conducting backups during off-peak hours to minimise disruption to your workforce. Lastly, make sure to regularly review and adjust your backup schedule as your business needs evolve.

Ensure Seamless Integration with Microsoft 365

Seamless integration with your Microsoft 365 account is crucial to ensure the efficient backing up of your data. Your backup solution should be able to interact directly with Microsoft 365 APIs to fetch data without disrupting the operational efficiency of your service. For instance, Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 integrates with your Microsoft 365 account, ensuring an uninterrupted flow of data and maintaining the integrity of your information. 

The tool supports the backup and recovery of Microsoft Teams data, SharePoint Online sites, and Exchange Online mailboxes, including emails, attachments, calendar entries, and contacts. This integration goes hand in hand with Microsoft’s security protocols, ensuring that your data remains protected throughout the backup and recovery process.

Ensure Data Resilience with Cloud-to-Cloud Backup Diversification

Cloud-to-cloud backup diversification is a strategic approach to data protection that helps ensure the resilience of your Microsoft 365 data. It involves backing up your data to different cloud storage platforms to mitigate the risks associated with relying on a single cloud service provider. This diversification provides an extra layer of protection, ensuring that even if one cloud service experiences an outage or data loss, your data is still safe and accessible in another cloud. 

For example, while you may use Microsoft Azure for primary storage, you could use Amazon S3 or Google Cloud Storage for backup purposes. This strategy takes advantage of the unique benefits each cloud platform offers, such as cost-effectiveness, geographical distribution, or specific cybersecurity features. A cloud-to-cloud diversification strategy assures that your business remains operational, even during unexpected events, by providing a robust, multi-layered data protection solution.

Enhance Data Security with Advanced Encryption

Enhancing data security with advanced encryption is another crucial step in a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery strategy. Encryption transforms your data into indecipherable text, which can only be returned to a readable format by those possessing the correct decryption key. Tools like Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365 employ AES 256-bit encryption, one of the most secure encryption methods available, to protect your data both at rest and during transmission. 

This encryption standard is used by governments and leading organisations across the globe and is regarded as virtually unbreakable. With encrypted backups, even if your data were to fall into the wrong hands, it would remain protected and unintelligible, thus ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of your data at all times. This additional layer of security is fundamental, especially for businesses handling sensitive data, as it provides peace of mind that your Microsoft 365 data is secure against potential breaches.

Opt for Proactive Threat Prevention in Backups

Proactive threat prevention in backups is an essential component of a comprehensive data protection strategy. This approach involves the use of automated systems that can identify and neutralise threats before they can inflict harm. With the increasing sophistication of cyber threats, reactive measures are not always sufficient to prevent data breaches or loss. By choosing a backup solution equipped with proactive threat prevention mechanisms, you can protect your Microsoft 365 data from ransomware, malware, and other cyber threats. 

Tools like Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 offer real-time monitoring and anomaly detection, alerting you to potential threats and allowing you to act swiftly to prevent data loss or corruption. Furthermore, these solutions aren’t just confined to cloud storage but also protect data stored in Microsoft’s local storage, providing a comprehensive security solution. By incorporating proactive threat prevention into your backup strategy, you can ensure your data is not just backed up, but also continuously protected.

Test Recovery Processes

Testing recovery processes is an integral step to ensure that your data recovery and backup strategy is robust and effective. The purpose of testing is to identify potential issues and weaknesses in your recovery process that could lead to data loss or extended downtime during an actual recovery scenario. Such tests should be carried out regularly and involve simulating various disaster scenarios to assess the reliability and speed of your recovery processes. 

Tools like Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 offer functionality to test the effectiveness of your backups by restoring data in a controlled environment, verifying that the data can be successfully recovered and that the integrity of the data is maintained. Remember, a successful backup is meaningless if the data cannot be accurately and swiftly restored. In conclusion, regular testing of your recovery processes is as vital as the backup process itself to ensure business continuity and resilience against data loss.

Steer Through Compliance Regulations

Complying with regulatory standards is a fundamental aspect of a robust data protection strategy. Businesses handling sensitive data, such as personal or financial information, must remain compliant with various data protection laws and regulations. These regulations may vary based on the geographic location and the specific industry. 

For instance, companies handling the personal data of EU citizens need to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), while healthcare providers in the United States must adhere to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Tools like Veeam Backup for Microsoft Office 365 come equipped with features that assist in maintaining regulatory compliance. They offer capabilities such as data retention, eDiscovery, and advanced search, facilitating seamless compliance with data protection regulations. 

Striking the right balance between meeting business needs and conforming to regulatory standards is crucial to avoiding potential legal ramifications and maintaining trust with your customers. It is important to understand and incorporate these regulations into your data recovery and backup strategy to safeguard your business from potential breaches and penalties.

Supercharging Next-Generation Backups with AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is paving the way for advanced, next-generation backup solutions that are more efficient, reliable, and secure. In the era of big data, managing backups manually or using traditional methods can be time-consuming and prone to error. This is where AI comes into play, bringing automation and predictive analysis to the forefront of data backup and recovery services. 

AI can be leveraged to automate backup procedures, intelligently schedule backups to avoid peak business hours and optimise storage utilisation based on data access patterns. Furthermore, AI-powered anomaly detection can quickly identify unusual activity that may suggest a cyber threat, enabling quicker response times compared to manual monitoring. 

Embracing AI in backup solutions not only increases efficiency but also adds an additional layer of security, making your data recovery and backup strategy even more robust. Tools like Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365 are incorporating AI-driven functionalities, ensuring that businesses can enjoy a seamless, comprehensive, and future-proof backup and recovery solution.

A Strategy for Sustainable Security

In an era of relentless cyber threats, establishing a sustainable security strategy is paramount. Such a strategy should incorporate a holistic view of data protection that goes beyond the traditional backup and recovery options. An effective strategy must include a multilayered approach to data protection, ensuring that data is secure both in rest and in transit. Data encryption, proactive threat detection, regular testing of recovery processes, compliance with regulations, and leveraging AI technology are all important components, but they must be underpinned by a culture of security awareness within the organisation. 

Continuous education and training of staff to recognise and respond to potential threats are crucial. Furthermore, a sustainable security strategy should also be scalable and adaptable, equipped to evolve with changing business needs, emerging threats, and advancements in technology. 

By adopting such a comprehensive and robust approach to security, businesses can ensure the protection of their valuable data assets and maintain trust in their brand. Tools like Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365 enable businesses to implement this sustainable security strategy effectively, offering end-to-end security features that safeguard data, ensure compliance, and optimize recovery options.

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Benefits of Using Automated, Paid Backup Solutions for Office 265 Backup and Recovery

Transitioning to the cloud has revolutionised the way businesses store and manage data. However, it also presents new challenges in data backup and recovery. Manual methods or free solutions often fall short of offering comprehensive protection, especially in complex environments like Office 365. 

In contrast, automated, paid backup solutions bring numerous benefits to the table, enhancing data security, streamlining workflows, and ensuring business continuity. Let’s delve into the advantages of using automated, paid backup solutions for Office 365 backup and recovery.

Easy File Access

Automated, paid backup solutions provide easy and quick access to your files, enhancing operational efficiency and user productivity. By maintaining secure backup copies of your data, these solutions ensure that your business-critical information is readily available, irrespective of any disruptions or data loss incidents that may occur. 

Furthermore, advanced search features enable users to locate specific files or folders within backup copies swiftly, eliminating the time-consuming process of manual searching. This easy file access is particularly helpful during audit checks or regulatory compliance exercises where specific data needs to be retrieved promptly. Thus, solutions like Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365 make data management more efficient and seamless, delivering a superior user experience.

Added Cybersecurity Features

In addition to their primary role in data storage and recovery, automated, paid backup solutions often come equipped with robust cybersecurity features, significantly enhancing the overall security posture of your business. These features may include end-to-end encryption, ensuring that your data remains secure, both while in transit and at rest. 

Moreover, they often offer anomaly detection capabilities, using sophisticated algorithms to identify and alert you to any unusual activity that could indicate a potential cyber threat. Such proactive measures help in mitigating risks and enabling rapid response to any potential breaches. In the case of Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365, these cybersecurity features are integrated into the solution, providing a comprehensive approach to data protection that goes beyond just backup and recovery. 

By leveraging such advanced security functionalities, businesses can better protect Microsoft 365 data, ensuring that it remains secure against the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats.

Ease of Use

One of the key benefits of automated, paid backup solutions is their ease of use. With a user-friendly interface and intuitive features, these backup solutions streamline the process of data backup and recovery, making it accessible even for those with limited technical expertise. They automate routine tasks such as scheduling backups, alerting users about potential threats, and providing seamless recovery of data, thereby reducing manual oversight and the risk of human error. 

Moreover, the simplicity of these tools does not compromise their functionality or effectiveness; they still offer comprehensive data protection and robust security features. In the context of Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365, this ease of use is evident in its straightforward setup, clear navigation, and hassle-free maintenance, simplifying the management of your Microsoft 365 tenant backups. Thus, businesses can focus more on their core operations, knowing that their backup and recovery needs are taken care of effectively and efficiently.

Cost Efficiency

Investing in an automated, paid backup solution such as Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365 can also lead to significant cost savings. Traditional manual backup methods can be labour-intensive, requiring dedicated staff and resources. However, with an automated solution, the process of data backup and recovery becomes much more efficient, reducing the need for manual intervention. This can lead to a decrease in labour costs, freeing up resources for other important business functions. 

Moreover, these solutions are typically based on a subscription model, allowing businesses to scale their backup needs in line with their growth, thereby optimising costs. The robust security features of these tools can also help avoid the financial ramifications associated with data breaches or loss. Therefore, while there’s an upfront cost, the long-term benefits of enhanced security, operational efficiency, and resource optimization result in substantial cost efficiency.


How much does backup for Microsoft 365 cost?

The cost of backup for Microsoft 365 can vary significantly depending on several factors. These include the size of your organisation, the amount of data you need to back up, your required retention period, and the specific backup solution you choose. For instance, Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365 offers a range of pricing options to accommodate different business needs and budgets. 

They operate on a licensing model, where the cost is usually on a per-user basis. It’s best to contact a Veeam sales representative or visit their website for the most accurate and up-to-date pricing information. Remember, while cost is an important consideration, it’s equally important to consider the value and security these services provide in protecting your crucial data assets.

Can you backup Microsoft Office 365 to an external hard drive?

While you can manually export certain data from Microsoft Office 365 to an external hard drive, such as emails, contacts, or calendar items, this approach doesn’t constitute a comprehensive, reliable backup solution. It’s time-consuming, prone to human error, and doesn’t cover all data types in Office 365. Comprehensive backup solutions like Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365 are designed to be cloud-based and automate the backup process, providing consistent and reliable protection for all Office 365 data. 

They ensure safe, secure, and easy-to-retrieve backups, enabling businesses to maintain business continuity, meet compliance requirements, and safeguard against data loss. Therefore, while it’s technically possible to manually back up some Office 365 data to an external hard drive, it’s not recommended as a complete data protection strategy.

Can I download all my emails from Office 365?

Yes, you can download all your emails from Office 365. There are different methods to do this, including using the Outlook desktop client or a built-in eDiscovery tool. However, it’s important to note that while this process allows you to save a copy of your emails, it does not serve as a comprehensive data protection strategy. 

For efficient, consistent, and automated backup of all your Office 365 data (not just emails), consider investing in a cloud backup solution like Veeam Backup for Microsoft 365. This ensures that your emails, along with other important data, are securely backed up, easy to recover, and guarded against data loss.

How do I backup my emails and files in Office 365 for free?

While some built-in features in Office 365 can help you preserve your data, they don’t provide a comprehensive backup solution. For instance, you can use the export feature in Outlook to save a copy of your emails, calendars, and contacts. For files stored in SharePoint or OneDrive for Business, you can download them directly to your local storage. However, these actions must be performed manually, leaving room for human error, and they do not cover all types of data in Office 365. 

Furthermore, these measures are not built for long-term retention and do not facilitate easy data recovery in the event of loss. It’s important to stress that these in-built features are designed for data archiving, not data backup. For a complete, reliable, and automated backup of your Office 365 data, consider investing in a dedicated backup solution. Even though they may not be free, their value in protecting your crucial data against loss can far outweigh the cost.