GTB IT Solutions

The importance of backing up your Microsoft 365 data

May 16th, 2023

As a small business owner, you understand the significance of your data. Whether it's customer information, financial records, or vital documents, your Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) holds the key to your business's success.

However, relying solely on the default backup system within your Microsoft 365 tenant/account can expose your business to unnecessary risks.

In this article, we'll explore the importance of backing up your Microsoft 365 data and why it’s usually a good idea to have a separate backup of your Microsoft data.

For GTB newer clients, setting up a backup of your 365 to GTB’s Cloud DR (disaster recovery) system is now a default recommended for all onboarding clients or those moving to 365 away from other systems.

For older GTB clients, you may or may not have a 365 backup in place already; but we will soon be emailing most clients, who don't have this backup, and suggest you consider it.

Microsoft 365 is not a backup solution:

First a story to illustrate the bottom line here. Colleagues of ours in the IT Alliance run 365 back-ups for several hundred businesses with over 2,000 365 users.

Over a two-year period, they had five requests for their 365 backups to have data restored. In each of those cases, the users were VERY happy that they had a 365 backup outside of 365!

To illustrate further, when documents are downloaded from backups inside Microsoft 365, they lose their sub-folder structures.  Imagine if there was an issue of some sort, and all of your documents lost their folders and were put into a single big folder. How long would that take you to sort out?

Furthermore, if someone accidentally or deliberately deletes a folder of documents, and if this falls outside of the retention and recycle bin settings, you can end up losing those documents permanently.  

Why doesn’t Microsoft address this, you ask?

Good question. As we understand it, 365 uses a ‘shared responsibility model’ where Microsoft puts in a huge amount of effort to protect you at the infrastructure level, but where at the user’s data level – you bear ultimate responsibility.

In short, 365 is for storage, syncing, collaboration, productivity, workflow, communication, but is not a fool-proof backup solution.

Microsoft recommend that user’s backup their own data outside of 365.

So, GTB has a system for automated continuous backup of clients 365 data, which we keep on secure GTB-owned servers in New Zealand. These are located in two different regions to give redundancy and protection against disasters. This acts as a ‘back stop’ to 365’s own protection processes. If you would like your 365 backed up, get in touch now.

Here is more detail:

  1. Security Risks and Data Loss: The cyber landscape is constantly evolving, and small businesses are increasingly becoming targets for data breaches and ransomware attacks. Relying solely on Microsoft 365's native backup system puts your data at risk. Malicious attacks, accidental deletion, or even a simple human error can lead to permanent data loss. By having an external backup, you create an additional layer of protection against unforeseen incidents and significantly reduce the impact of potential data breaches.

  2. Comprehensive Data Protection: Microsoft 365's native backup system is primarily designed to safeguard against infrastructure-level failures. Microsoft describes this as the ‘shared responsibility model’. While it provides basic backup and recovery capabilities, it may not offer sufficient granularity and flexibility for your specific business needs. External backup solutions allow you to customize backup schedules, retention periods, and restoration options to fit your requirements. With a comprehensive backup strategy, you gain more control over your data and ensure business continuity in any situation.

  3. Compliance and Legal Requirements: Depending on your industry, you may have strict compliance and legal obligations to protect sensitive data. For example, in NZ, accountants and lawyers are required to hold information; lawyers for up to 10 years. By implementing an external backup solution, you can meet these requirements more effectively. This not only helps you avoid potential penalties but also enhances your reputation as a trustworthy business that takes data privacy seriously.

  4. Faster Recovery and Reduced Downtime: Imagine the impact on your business if you were to experience data loss or system failure within your Microsoft 365 environment. Recovering from such incidents solely from the default backup system can be time-consuming and may result in prolonged downtime, leading to loss of productivity, revenue, and customer trust. An external backup solution allows for faster data recovery, minimizing downtime and ensuring your business operations can quickly resume without major disruptions.

  5. Long-Term Archiving and Data Retention: Your business may have long-term archiving requirements for compliance or historical purposes. Native Microsoft 365 backups are typically limited in their retention period, making it challenging to meet such obligations. An external backup solution enables you to store data for extended periods, ensuring compliance and providing you with the flexibility to access historical information when needed.


As a small business owner, protecting your Microsoft 365 data is not a luxury—it's a necessity.

Relying solely on the default backup system within your Microsoft 365 tenant/account exposes your business to unnecessary risks.

By implementing an external backup solution, you fortify your data security, gain greater control over your backups, meet regulatory requirements, ensure faster recovery, and reduce downtime.

Don't wait for a data loss incident to realize the importance of data backup. Take proactive measures today and safeguard your business's most valuable asset: your data. Contact GTB now.



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