Tyler Snyder

By: Tyler Snyder on August 4th, 2020

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VIDEO: Microsoft 365 Data Retention and Recovery


Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) is Microsoft’s suite of cloud services. Depending on the license tier you choose, it can include the Microsoft Office suite of products, hosted email, cloud based active directory, mobile device management, and many other great cloud services to keep your business secure.

As a managed service provider and Microsoft Partner, we are huge fans of Microsoft 365 at Innovative, and we love sharing our favorite features with our clients. Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how users can recover deleted data from Microsoft 365, or how they can undo changes that another user may have made to their documents.

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In this video, I answer those questions by showing you how to use the two Recycle Bins in Microsoft 365, and how to access previous versions of your Microsoft Office documents. I also touch on some of the limitations of Microsoft 365 data retention and recovery features, and why we recommend third-party SaaS backup solutions to protect your cloud data from a thing called ransomcloud, or rasomware in the cloud.

RELATED VIDEO: Watch a demo video to see how ransomware works in the cloud.

video Transcript

[00:06] Hey guys Tyler with Innovative here. I wanted to take a few minutes and talk to you about some of the amazing retention and recovery features within Microsoft 365, or you might know it as the Office 365 solution.

[00:20] We get a lot of questions about what really happens to data once it's moved into the cloud with these solutions, and instead of just telling you about it, I want to take a minute and show you.

[00:32] So the first thing we're going to take a look at is Microsoft OneDrive.

[00:40] For those of you that might not be familiar, Microsoft OneDrive is Microsoft's file repository functionality. Each licensed user receives a OneDrive account where they can store their own documents. There's a web version that I'm showing you right now, and there's also a PC version that can be accessed via a sync tool.

[00:59] So here are my files within OneDrive. And what we're going to do here first is delete a file and see what happens to it.

[01:06] So I'm going to select Tyler Test and click the delete button at the top. Once I do that, you can see that the file has been removed, and now we're going to go into the Recycle Bin. This is the same functionality that you would have on your regular Windows operating system. And within the Recycle Bin, we see my document. You will also notice that there is a very easy option to restore the file. And when I do that and go back into my files, we should see it down here at the bottom, and we do. So that's fantastic.

[01:41] Let's take it a step further. Now I want to delete the data, and I want to actually delete it from the Recycle Bin.

[01:52] So let me refresh this once more. There we go. Now I'm going to delete it from here. So you'll notice it's gone from my Recycle Bin. But Microsoft has a solution for that. There is a second stage Recycle Bin that only administrators have access to. The reason being is because this contains deleted data from the Recycle Bins of all the users in your organization, and you don't want just anyone to have access to that. When I go into the second stage Recycle Bin, you will notice that my file is there and that I can recover it right from this point as well.

[02:30] So I'm going to go ahead and do that. Go back to my files. And my document is restored.

[02:39] You will notice that Microsoft has put a lot of energy into making this process simple. They don't want you to have to reach out to an IT professional to recover something in their solution.

[02:51] Now I want to show you one other feature that makes Microsoft 365 very attractive, and that is called previous versions. This could be accessible on any Office suite product, so we're talking about Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, things like that.

[03:09] Now when I'm in my document, if I go under file and info, you'll see version history list listed here. What version history does is it keeps track of the changes made to your document so you can see that I've made changes an hour ago and then back on May 11th.

[03:24] When I select the different dates it shows me the way the document looked at that point in time. Within that document, within that Word document or Excel document, we have the ability to go back in time and perhaps recover earlier changes made to the document. That's just another feature within the Microsoft 365 solution that is built in to give you control of your data.

[03:45] Now with OneDrive, you have a period of time, 90 days, from the time something is deleted. It doesn't matter if it's in that first Recycle Bin or the second Recycle Bin that I showed you a moment ago. If it's deleted and lands in either of those, you're on a 90-day clock. Once you get beyond that window, the data is permanently deleted with no way to recover it.

[04:07] So let's move on to Microsoft Teams and see what options exist to recover that data. So what I have here is a simple demo team down here, and I am going to pick one of my channels here. I'm going to pick the test one, and I'm going to go ahead and delete that.

[04:26] OK, that is gone. And what I'm now going to do is go into another Recycle Bin to recover that within teams. So, if you go into manage team, which is the screen that I'm in right now under channels, you will see a deleted section. And under that section is the channel that I just deleted. You will also notice this very simple restore option, just like in the OneDrive. When I select that option, it takes a moment and then my channel has been recovered, and not just the channel but all the data within it.

[04:58] So you're sensing a theme here. They're building this to be very end-user friendly. Teams is a little bit different because the retention is not quite as long. From the moment something gets deleted in Teams, you have 30 days while it's retained. And beyond that 30-day period, the data is permanently deleted, and there's no way to recover it.

[05:18] Now let's move over to email. It's always very dangerous for me to open up my email in these demos, but what I have here is I'm in my deleted items folder. So everything in here I have purged from my inbox, and just like in all the other examples, I'm just going to pick an option here, pick an email, and I'm going to delete it.

[05:39] I could see that it's gone here, and then just like those other options, I have a Recycle Bin. When I get into that Recycle Bin, I see my item. So again, the end-user is empowered to restore this data on their own.

[0553] Now, if I click restore here, it's going to put it back into the inbox, which I'm not going to open up and show you what I have in there. But the idea is making it very friendly to the end-users.

[06:05] Now email is a little bit different than OneDrive and Teams. Email has a lot of retention built into it that can be customized so I can retain the email out of my deleted items and even beyond for years. I think it's even something crazy like 68 years that you can retain that. And the reason Microsoft does that is because by and large, emails are very small and retaining a lot of them doesn't consume a lot of storage.

[06:31] Now I will say that if you're keeping that much email, you might be in danger of needing a higher-end Microsoft 365 license to retain all that information, which can be costly. And there's also performance enhancement by keeping your mailbox small, and that's what we aim for here at Innovative.

[06:50] So we've got a bunch of great restoration options within Microsoft 365. So you know what is it missing? And then there's a couple things to note.

[07:01] Number one, what happens when you have an employee leave the organization? As long as their account is licensed, you have access to their data. But the moment you unlicense it, you're on a 30-day clock. Once 30 days is up, that data is gone permanently.

[07:18] So you're left with two options. You either keep your old user’s license, which is expensive. Or you roll the dice and don't license them and have that data deleted, but you might need it later. Neither of those are great options.

[07:29] You also have concerns with ransomware. Hopefully you've heard of this cyberattack before, but ransomware is essentially in malicious tool whose only job is to load on a computer or somewhere on your network and see what files that has access to. Its job is to go out and encrypt that information so that you can't open it and then prompt a ransom. So if you want access to your data again you have to pay it.

[07:55] And Ransomware is very, very common. It's not just big companies that are getting hit with this, it's the little guys too. And the problem is that once something is changed when something is encrypted within Microsoft 365, there's no mechanism to rollback the clock to a previous version. So we saw in the previous versions area of that Word document that we could do that, but once the data has been manipulated and changed, there's no way to even open that file. And because Microsoft doesn't have a way to rollback the clock, we can't recover that data when something like that happens.

[08:27] Now, along with Ransomware as an option called ransomcloud, it's very similar to what ransomware does at the file level. But this is at the mailbox level. It can encrypt an entire mailbox so that you can't open any of the items in there without paying that ransom. And just like our OneDrive discussion a moment ago, there's no way to turn back the clock and just recover one or that entire mailbox, because Microsoft's not focused on doing that. They're focused on making deleted item recovery very accessible and give you some retention behind it. But the moment these things are changed, you're out of luck.

[09:01] Now, Microsoft’s SLA doesn't cover any type of data loss including ransomware, so you need to be aware of that. You can't rely on Microsoft. There's no way to pick up the phone and call them to have you do a recovery. The things that they are recovering are at a geographic level to make sure that they have up-time they're not responsible for your data.

[09:23] Now I have included a couple of links to Ransomware and ransom cloud so that you can see what it controlled attack looks like. Just to be aware of it. We definitely like to educate our users here, and so I wanted you guys to have that tool at your disposal.

[09:38] So what do you do? Well, we recommend a third-party SaaS backup. You want a tool that can infinitely retain your data so that you can recover as far back as the point in time when the backups began.

[09:52] You want a tool that can protect your email, your documents, your OneDrive documents, as many Microsoft Teams as you have set up and all the channels within, you want a tool that's going to protect your SharePoint sites if you built out any of those, and you also want something that's going to protect that former employee data. You don't want to have to pay expensive Microsoft 365 license is just to keep that active. You want a tool that can protect all that data as well so that you don't have to pay those licenses.

[10:22] You also want it to have one central interface so that you can search and recover one item or an entire mailbox. And that's really, really important because you don't want to be bouncing around to different areas when it does come time to recover something you want it to be as simple as possible because you're probably dealing with a very negative situation at that point.

[10:43] So there are a lot of really, really good SaaS backup options out there. We would love to help you find the best one for your business. Please visit our website to learn more about Innovative and see how we can help you.

RELATED VIDEO: Watch a demo video to see how ransomware works in the cloud.