How MSPs can back up Microsoft 365 for their clients?

Acronis
Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud
for Service Providers

Data is under attack, and cybercriminals are on a streak. The global average cost of a data breach is now $4.35 million, hitting a new high in 2022. With the figure expected to reach $5 million per incident in 2023, data security requires more concerted efforts than ever.

Businesses use software applications, such as Microsoft 365, to digitize their operations, but these applications are the primary targets of cyberattackers. Therefore, comprehensive and effective data security must begin with effective backup and recovery of the data these applications use and transfer.

This article explains how you — as an MSP — can safely back up your clients’ M365 data when fulfilling your primary security responsibilities.

Why back up Microsoft 365?

Microsoft 365 tools store and process a vast amount of sensitive data, such as email messages, documents, spreadsheets, presentations and files. However, these solutions are not fool-proof. Aside from cyberattacks, data loss can also occur due to accidental or malicious deletions, cloud or data center disruptions, plugin and application conflicts, and other errors. In light of such eventualities, you need a third-party backup solution that makes up for the four M365 limitations reviewed below.

Limited retention period

M365’s retention window is 30 to 90 days. This can be a problem if you need to recover data that does not fall within this timeframe. Additionally, suppose you manually remove data from the Recoverable Items folder or hard-delete a file. In this case, the data is permanently gone unless you subscribe to eDiscovery, a plan designed to retain data for use as evidence strictly in legal cases.

Limited recovery options

Microsoft 365's built-in recovery options are limited and may not recover all data types. For example, under the basic recovery options, you can restore accidentally deleted emails via the Deleted Items tab. But this only works for recently deleted files, not long-deleted files, compromised mailboxes, or failed migrations.

OneDrive weakness

Although OneDrive is cloud storage, it stores synchronized copies of M365 data. This means that when data is corrupted on your local device, any data on the OneDrive cloud is automatically infected as well. Additionally, M365 does not follow the 3-2-1 backup rule where you have three separate backups stored on two media carriers and one off-site. Instead, any backup data is stored along with the source data, making your backups vulnerable to the exact same threats as the source data.

Security risks and compliance requirements

M365 operates via a shared responsibility model when it comes to data security which requires users to provide additional security for their data. Any clients in heavily regulated industries also have compliance requirements that mandate data retention for years. Therefore, relying solely on the M365 retention window is a violation and could lead to sanctions.

The benefits of a third-party backup solution

Since third-party services are more efficient than built-in M365 backup tools, you and your clients will gain the following three benefits from using them.

1. Added cybersecurity features

Third-party backup solutions provide added cybersecurity features such as advanced encryption and security protocols, multifactor authentication, and access controls. These add another layer of protection to your data and minimize the possibility of syncing a corrupted file to OneDrive. But not all “third-party solutions,” including Acronis’, provide additional security features automatically. MSPs can, however, add additional protections for complete protection — such as the Advanced Email Security pack for Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud.

2. Cost-efficiency

Since M365's built-in backup features do not suffice for many clients, they may be forced to develop in-house backup infrastructures, which are costly to develop and maintain. However, third-party backup solutions can provide more robust data backup, reducing this cost. Furthermore, many third-party solutions operate on a pay-as-you-go model, allowing your clients to pay only for the features they need.  However, the flexible licensing model on the Acronis M365 solution is very attractive.

3. Native cloud failure protection

If OneDrive goes offline, you will lose access to your data until the service is back up and running. Third-party backup solutions, on the other hand, save data in multiple cloud locations, minimizing the potential for data loss. So, even if one cloud experiences downtime, you will still be able to get to your data via another. Acronis’ M365 protection services include ALL storage. Basic Microsoft PoneDrive includes up to 100GB of data, and it is expandable beyond that.

How to back up Microsoft 365 for your client

You should first make sure your organization is using a good backup solution. How do you know if a third-party backup solution is “good”? Check for these three things:

●          Harmonized storage and accessibility: The solution must keep all of your clients’ business data — emails in Outlook, OneDrive files and many more — in a secure cloud; it must also guarantee accessibility at all times.

●          Ease of use: Choose a tool that lets you configure backup settings easily and has a friendly UI. You can dig around for customer reviews or check popular product review websites like G2.

●          Backup restores: Use a tool where you can regularly test backup restores to ensure you can restore backed-up data anytime. It is also important to choose a tool with the flexibility to recover an entire mailbox or individual email messages, as well as recover either your entire OneDrive backup or individual files and folders within.

Conclusion

First, M365 protection in Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud is backup only. The Advanced Backup pack for M365 delivers superior additional features and functionality such as Group Management and more. And Acronis' Advanced Email Security performs significant inbound and outbound scanning, among other security checks. Not only this, it provides enhanced features to support the most important email traffic and compliance requirements.

For comprehensive backup of your clients’ M365 data, you need a specialized backup solution like Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud, which offers a win-win situation: It protects your clients' Microsoft 365 data. Plus, it enables quick data recovery in the event of accidental or intentional data loss, increasing your clients’ confidence in your security solutions and services.

Request a demo or try Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud today.

About Acronis

Acronis is a Swiss company, founded in Singapore. Celebrating two decades of innovation, Acronis has more than 1,800 employees in 45 locations. The Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud solution is available in 26 languages in over 150 countries and is used by 20,000 service providers to protect over 750,000 businesses.