Recently i was requested to review the synology diskstation ActiveBackup for Office 365 . Though Microsoft 365 provides unlimited retention period and litigation hold for office 365 applications i always had one topic in my hit list to read on why there might be a reason to have a local backup instance for Office 365 applications.This made me to do some little bit research on this topic and could see there might be few business cases ,compliance/legal requirements which demands to maintain backup copies of electronic data.
Moreover the litigation hold and retention period is not applicable for all office 365 plans. I have seen organizations consuming wide variety of Office 365 plans based on their business models.
On the other hand i see most of the office 365 backup solutions provides faster efficiency of users able to restore the content on their own mostly from the user management portal. In an ideal scenario office 365 user data recovery can be executed from a native tool set where we use the native content search or an e-discovery case from the admin portal. In a real case scenario if we don’t have an SLA for restore of data that comes in everyday for a resigned employee or an existing employee there might be some delay where only few admins are responsible in handling the operations tasks. With these third party packages we can optimize the processes for data restore.
Microsoft recommends in the service agreement page on the service availability section to regularly backup the data stored in the services. So i got an opportunity to setup and experience on how the backup and restore mechanism works with Office 365.
In this article we will have a look at Active Backup for Office365 from Synology. A little while back i setup DS920 + Diskstation with Sea Gate Iron Wolf HDD . SeaGate IronWolf is always BUILT FOR NAS Designed for 24×7 NAS workloads with better performance, spacious capacity, blazing-fast speeds and provides 2 applications sea tools and disk wizard for monitoring the drives.
In order to setup Active Backup for Office 365 we have to login to the Disk Station Manger.Keep this in mind the Active Backup for Office 365 supports only in 64 bit NAS and they must be running DSM 6.1 or later with atleast 2GB of ram.
After logged in to disk station manager in the package center , we can see the Active Backup for Office365 is present as an addon. Once its installed we can open them.
In the setup screen it provides us an option to choose in which office 365 data center our tenant resides.
Subsequent log in with the admin credentials we can see it requests for oauth permissions so that it can get the read and write access on all users data to perform the backup and restore operations.
Then it takes to the redirect page that we must confirm that we are ok with sending the office 365 data to the local DS domain.
Once it is completed Active Backup for Office 365 is opened. Navigate to Task Creation Wizard.
Here we have 2 highlighting features :
Account Discovery – When this option is turned on every new account in Office 365 gets the backup enabled automatically which is really a good features.
Enable the Active Backup Portal for end users – User logins with his own credentials and can see his own data and perform restore.
Here we have options to select the users where we need to take a backup for them. On a business standpoint we can think of 2 cases first one being the users not having the appropriate license for Litigation hold and retention policies and the latter one being VIP users or critical Financial Mailbox data that might require a local copy as per the business model concerning the audit and compliance requirements.
Selected few users for our testing and we also have the option to choose what service that needs to be backed up.
We have the site list where there is an option to choose the sites.
We have the backup and retention policy here to choose based on our requirement. We do have the file version retention policy as well.
Finally we choose the destination folder location in the NAS drive and the backup task creation is successful.
We can see the overall status and the backup summary in the Active Backup for Office 365 Dashboard once after few backup schedules have been successful.
There is an option to choose which service that we need to restore for the user. Here it can be one drive, Mail , Site , Calendar or Contacts. At the moment of writing this blog I do not see a separate option to restore for Teams Data.
Option 1 : Admin Restore
When admin logins he has the full privilege to navigate to all employees ,their data and restore them.
Option 2 : User Restore
User logins with his own credentials in the Office 365 Active Backup Portal and can see his own data.
From the Admin console logged in – have the option to choose the users.
Here we can see the option to select our restore point date and choose the required emails individually. In the restore we have two options first one to restore them directly to users mailbox and the second one where we can export them as individual email messages.
We have the option to search for the individual files with keywords, subject ,date and including with attachments which looks like a promising feature.The ability to perform a granular brick level backup will minimize most of the native recovery operations task.
In the final screen we have the option to change the user destination. In a real case scenario this can be useful where a current employee might require a data from a resigned employee after getting prior approval for a valid business reason.
Once the restore operation is successful we can see in the user mailbox it has been stored them on a separate destination folder and only the selected emails are restored.
On a export operation we the selected files are exported individually as emails.
File restore is also very promising. It makes an easy task to restore the file directly to the destination or take an export which downloads the requested file in the same format.
On doing a direct restore we can see that there is an option to restore the file sharing permission which looks great.
Below were the highlights identified from the evaluation:
1) License-free for unlimited Office 365 backups.
2) Option Monitor and manage your backup even from multiple tenants from same single dashboard.
3) There is account discovery – when this option is turned on every new account in Office 365 gets the backup enabled automatically.
4) There is an advanced search engine which allows to find any files containing the keyword including mail attachments
5) Option to preview the content of each file before we could restore them
Of course Microsoft does provide enough ways to protect data against corruption, deletion , ransomware and disaster scenarios with security, retention policies and litigation hold. If that convinces then we are ok with the native backup mechanism.As an alternative we can choose these packages that can hold data locally mostly for compliance/legal purposes , Volume of users not covering the licensing requirements to retain their data and enhanced recovery mechanism based on the business requirements.
I find this software to be beneficial for organizations that might require to backup Office 365 data as a part of their legal and compliance regulatory requirements.
Thanks & Regards