Need to Know podcast–Episode 193

Join us in this episode as Brenton speak with Lorenzo Coppa from Gluh, which is clever way for IT Resellers to sell more hardware with less hassle and overhead. Brenton and I also bring you up to date with all the latest Microsoft Cloud news. Just because Ignite is over doesn’t mean that the news stops from the cloud. We’ll bring you up to date with everything you need to know.

Take a listen and let us know what you think –

You can listen directly to this episode at:

Subscribe via iTunes at:

The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:

Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.





Updated version of Windows 10 1803 rolling out

Ignite book of news

Create an organisation wide team in Microsoft Teams

New capabilities coming to the SharePoint Migration Tool

How Azure AD can help clean up data in your on-premises Active Directory

Reset passwords from all versions of Windows

Ignite 2018 session Youtube index from CIAOPS

ID Fix tool

The benefits of certification


I’m seeing a growing number of progressive IT Professionals wanting to become certified so they can differentiate themselves from the crowd. I’m also seeing many of the same tired old responses to why people won’t get certified. Most of these are really just based on fear of failure.

The first major excuse people use is around the fact that they believe practical experience is enough. The problem is that practical experience is not consistent across the field. Everyone’s practical experience varies. How do you go about measuring that in a consistent manner? What is the best way to determine that everyone meets certain minimum standards? How to actually ensure that people have some idea about the products they install and support? Answer? Certification. Complete an independent standard exam to demonstrate your knowledge across a broad range of topics on the product. That provides you with a skills measure against the field. It provides external parties a way to very that you are indeed knowledgeable in what you say you are. It provides a public benchmark.

The next major excuse people provide is that fact that the topics covered in the certification aren’t relevant. Every course will cover both material that is and isn’t directly relevant. It is therefore important to focus on certifications that are most aligned to the profession you are working in or you wish to head. Also, don’t forget that technology changes over time, as do the needs for people in their careers. The skills you have today may not be the skills you need tomorrow. They may also not be the skills you require if you desire to change roles down the track. Broadening your knowledge is a good thing because there are many areas where you simply don’t have the experience. Certification forces you to examine and at least learn these to some basic level.

Another common excuse I see is the claim that customers never ask to see any type of qualifications from IT people. This may be because most people “assume” that IT Professionals are exactly that, professional. One of the traits of being professional is the desire to keep up to date and continue to develop knowledge that can be applied to helping those you serve. Doing things the same old way because it has ‘always’ worked is not being professional, it is being ignorant. Many of the careers we consider ‘professional’ like engineers, accountant, doctors, lawyer and so on are generally required to complete some ongoing form of professional development. This is aimed at ensuring that they stay current with all the trends in their field. It ensures that appreciate the changes that are happening that affect the people that they serve. If you want to join say the Institute of Professional Engineers, for example, you will need to commit to completing ongoing professional development.

Certification is going to give you recognition from an independent authority that you have competent knowledge in that topic. It is going to make you prepare and broaden your knowledge of the product. There hasn’t been a certification process that I have gone through where I didn’t learn something new. That is really the key reason for undertaking certifications, they are an excellent way to grow your own knowledge about your profession. This concept of learning is really the difference between those that undertake certification and those that rail against it. Certification doesn’t make you an expert but it does ensure you know your subject. If you really know your stuff, then you are more than willing to be tested on it.

My experience is that the people who rail most loudly against the benefits of certifications are those that have the greatest fear of being exposed as not really knowing as much as they think or claim. If you are confident in your knowledge you should welcome the chance to prove whether your knowledge is indeed as thorough as you believe and as current as your believe. You should always welcome the chance to learn more no matter what form it comes in. You should also welcome the chance to push yourself because certification isn’t really about external accomplishment, it is about the inner satisfaction of setting goals and achieving them.

There is a reason that people pursue higher learning delivered from places like university and technical colleges. They do this to provide themselves with a greater level of knowledge that can potentially be applied to their career and in turn given them greater opportunities and outcomes. Will they use everything they learning immediately? No. Are they likely to use everything they learn in these higher institutions during their career? No. Are they going to have to continue learning throughout their career? Of course. There is reason they call institutions like universities centres for “high education”.

Those who wish to achieve understand that they need to invest in themselves. They understand that they need to invest in knowledge to provide them with a competitive advantage. They also understand that if they continue the lifelong pursuit of knowledge they will continue to lead those that don’t. They understand that technology is now changing so rapidly that there isn’t any other option but to embrace on going learning and development. Failing to do so will consign you to the status of ‘has been’.

Are certifications are prefect measure of knowledge? No. Do they have merit beyond the mere academic results they provide? Absolutely. Those that embrace this as a lifelong commitment to learning will reap the benefits. They see certifications as not only an endorsement of their knowledge but also as a way to challenge and lift themselves beyond the mediocre. Those that deride certifications are probably fearful of not living up to where they believe their knowledge and currency is. Remember, as Archilochus said, “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”

Customising the top navigation bar in Office 365


You may not realise that you can customise the top navigation bar in Office 365 as a global administrator. This will give you some branding and navigation options across your tenant.


Navigate to Organizational profile in the Admin center and select to Edit the option Manage custom themes for your organization.


You now need to simply upload the required graphics but you will note that you can include a URL for the logo you add. This URL can basically be any web site address.


From the above, you can see that I’ve uploaded a logo, set the logo link to point to the default SharePoint site for the tenant and set a background image for the banner.


If you scroll further down the page you will a number of additional options, including the ability to display the full name for the logged in user, which I have selected.

Save you selections.


Without the banner background your navigation will appear like what you see above.


With the banner background your navigation will appear like what you see above.


If you then click on the logo you’ll be taken to the web site you entered during the configuration. In this case, to the default SharePoint site for the tenant.

Hopefully, you can now see a few more branding options for your Office 365, including the ability to link to any web location via a logo. That, I find is a very common request from many organisations.

Do you need to backup Office 365?

The question of whether you need to backup data (emails and files) stored in Office 365 is one of the most common questions I see. The best answer is that you need to have as many backups of your own data as you feel comfortable with. That comfort level will vary with each person and business, but in general, more is better.

Let’s start by defining what most people consider to be “traditional” backup. A “backup”, for this definition, is a full copy of your data at a point in time that allows you to easily do a single item restore (such as a single email or file) if required, to the original or alternate location, that is retained for an extended (greater than 30 days) period of time. If this is the type of backup you wish to have then you should look at using a third party tool to supplement the way Office 365 retains your data.

Microsoft is indeed able to restore your data if required but how they do is very different from what people may appreciate. Microsoft also does not publicly publish the specific process by which it backups up information in its data centers, however it certainly does backup your data as shown here:


Which can be found at –

Also in “Protecting Privacy and Data” – (page 3) you will find the following statement about Microsoft Online Services:

“Additionally, each service has established a set of standards for storing and backing up data, and securely deleting data upon request from the customer.”

Office 365 is also certified to many industry standards which you can read about here:

These contain standards around maintaining data within its services. With all this, you should then feel completely at ease with the fact that Microsoft is indeed protecting your data in many different ways, to industry leading standards or better, one of which is the process of backup. It is important to however understand how the common initial “traditional” definition of backup highlighted above may be different within Office 365.

If needed, Microsoft are not going to restore a single item, such as one email message back into a mailbox. They will however restore a full mailbox for you back to a point in time. Also, they will not be able to restore a whole mailbox from say 12 months ago because, as you can appreciate, the amount of data storage required to provide this across all mailboxes in Office 365 would be enormous. Thus, if you have a need to have Microsoft restore a whole mailbox, you’ll need to typically request that as soon after the event as possible and do so by logging a support ticket with Microsoft.

Likewise with SharePoint. Microsoft won’t generally restore a single file into a document library, they will restore the whole site collection or OneDrive for Business back to a point in time provided it is within a recent time window. To do this, you’ll need to once again raise a service ticket with Microsoft.

Another point to remember with restores completed by Microsoft, for mailboxes and SharePoint sites, is that the restore will be over what is already in place. That is, restored data will be to the original location. Restored data from Microsoft cannot be recovered into an alternate location for comparison.This means that this will erase any current information in that location and replace it with everything from the restore. Thus, the data will be rolled back to that moment in time for a whole mailbox or site collection.

Thus, if you are looking for single item recovery of deleted items like files and email messages and/or items that are beyond the default Office 365 retention periods (for example from 12 months ago), then you need to consider a third party backup tool that you purchase, configure, manage and maintain yourself. Also, if you are looking to restore a whole mailbox, SharePoint site collection or OneDrive for Business without logging a support ticket with Microsoft, then you need to consider a third party tool. Also, if you wish to control where the destination of the backed up data is, you will again need to consider a third party solution. Finally, if you want granular control over the schedule of when backups actually take place, then you need to look at a third party backup solution.

Office 365 typically maintains data using a retention process. This means that Office 365 will make sure the data is made available but it does not generally keep a copy of that data forever. In essence, old deleted data will be aged out and eventually purged from the service after a period of time. That period of time varies by service as well as the license assigned to that data. There are however features that are part of the more advanced licenses and available as add ins, such as Litigation Hold that can be used to retain data indefinitely. The important difference here is “traditional” backup versus retention. For an overview of Office 365 retention policies see:

The important thing people need to understand is what protection does Office 365 provide them out of the box and do they need to supplement that? Take OneDrive for Business and SharePoint for example. Every time you update a file in either of these two services a previous copy of the file is kept. This allows the user to easily roll back to a previous version of that file if needed. By default, and this can be changed, Office 365 will retain 500 copies of previous version of a file. Once it reaches that limit it will commence over writing the oldest version.

Having version history in SharePoint and OneDrive for Business means that you can “recover” older items quickly and easily. You can also recover a whole OneDrive for Business quickly and easily using this recent feature:

That same feature will soon be available for SharePoint document libraries.

Next, let’s take a look a what happens when you delete a file in OneDrive for Business or SharePoint online. Once a file is deleted it goes to the user’s recycle bin where it can be recovered if needed. If it is removed from the user recycle bin it goes to an administrator recycle bin. The total time that a file is retained across these recycle bins is 93 days. After that the file is purged from the system. I have outlined this process in depth in this article:

What about deleted emails? An email that is deleted from the inbox is sent to the deleted items folder for that mailbox and retained there indefinitely. If it is removed from the deleted items folder it can be recovered for up to 14 days by default, which can be extended to 30 days via PowerShell. After that the email is purged from the system. I have detailed how to extend the default period to 30 days using PowerShell here:

Now the time that both of these processes retain for can be extended. In the case of OneDrive for Business and SharePoint you can use labels and retention policies to effectively maintain that data forever. With emails you can add the Litigation Hold feature to achieve basically the same effect. Thus, with either some additional configuration or additional license, Office 365 can retain data for a very long time. However, you need to appreciate that this is retention not backup as we defined it earlier.

What’s the difference between retained and backed up data in this context? If you enable extended retention policies for file data in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business beyond the default period, the information is kept in something called a Preservation Library. The challenge with this is there is only one Preservation Library per site. This means all the retained data is lumped into this one location. That can make finding a single file to restore a challenge. Preservation Libraries are also generally only available to administrators not end users.

In the case of deleted emails an administrator would need to use a tool like eDiscovery search to recover the deleted items. The items will certain be available but the structure they resided in would not be. Thus, if you deleted a file from your inbox that was stored a number of sub folders below the inbox, those folders would not typically be recovered using this eDiscovery process typically.

As you can see, there is a difference between what many people consider backup and the way that Office 365 retains data and how it can be accessed. In many cases it can be as good as a backup, however if your requirement for backup is what was defined initially, then implementing a third party tool is probably recommended. The downside to implementing a third party tool is that you need to pay, configure and maintain this. This means the additional cost of this needs to be weighed up against how often it will actually be required and what situations it provides protection above and beyond what Office 365 does. That is a decision that each business needs to make for themselves. This is a risk management decision.

In all of this you’ll also need to consider that Office 365 is fast becoming more than simply emails and files. It is Teams with chat, it is Yammer with discussions, it is Sway with presentations, Planner with tasks, and so on. No third party tools I know of will in fact backup these Office 365 services in any way. As the use of these additional services continues to grow, this means that you are going to have to rely on the processes that Microsoft has in its back end to potentially recover your data if required. At this point in time, there is no other option.

Of course, some features like Litigation Hold require a more advanced license, like Exchange Online Plan 2 but generally you don’t just get the one feature with these advanced licenses, you get a range of additional features. Thus, if you want Litigation Hold and upgrade a mailbox to Exchange Online plan 2 not only do you get Litigation Hold but you also get unlimited archiving as part of that upgraded license. Compare this for paying for a third party backup solution which generally only gives you the option to backup data and doesn’t provide much in the way of end user functionality. Also, chances are that you will rarely need that backup however the added features of advanced license can improve productivity for your end user every day.

In a perfect world, yes, you would add additional backup capabilities to Office 365 because more backups are better. However, we live in a world where compromises need to be made for different business reasons. We need to make decisions based on business risk. Thus, you need to balance risk with the offset mitigation cost and return on investment. Personally, if I had to choose between having a third party backup solution or upgrading an existing Office 365 license to include more functionality, I’d fall into the camp of providing users with additional day to day functionality. This is because I understand what Office 365 does. I understand how to get the maximum retention and recovery from what is provided out of the box and by adding advanced licenses to Office 365 and I am happy with that. I don’t believe adding third party backup software provides more value than what Office 365 can provide. Yes, I understand there maybe circumstances that may not be optimal but given how likely that circumstance may be, I believe that choice to be circumspect.

In summary then, yes, Office 365 does backup your data. However, the way that backup takes place and how it can be used to recover information is probably different many people’s “traditional” concept of backup. It is therefore important to understand:

  1. What Office 365 provides out of the box
  2. What additional configurations can be made to Office 365 to improve that
  3. What Office 365 services can be added to improve or enhance what is provide by default

Only after completing these steps should you consider adding additional third party backup solutions if appropriate.

Need to Know podcast–Episode 192

A follow up from our last episode with more news and updates from Microsoft Ignite. Brenton an I add a few more points of interest that came out of the conference including update on Microsoft Whiteboard, updates from Azure and multi geo for SharePoint and OneDrive plus plenty more. So tune in for the latest and greatest from Microsoft Ignite.

Take a listen and let us know what you think –

You can listen directly to this episode at:

Subscribe via iTunes at:

The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:

Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.




More interesting news from Ignite

Absorbing content from Ignite 2018

New features for Microsoft Forms

Introducing Multi-Geo in SharePoint and Office 365 Groups

Passwordless phone sign in

SharePoint powers teamwork in Office 365

Microsoft whiteboard now available on more devices

Azure monitor just got better

Move managed disks and VMs now available

Announcing Microsoft Threat Protection

Centralised Office 365 Add in deployments with PowerShell

The three common Outlook add-ins I suggest be deployed across the entire organisation are:

1. Report Message

2. Message Header Analyzer

3. FindTime

You can allow users to deploy these individually but that opens up potential security concerns if users can install their own add ins. The better way is to deploy these centrally for all everyone.

You can do this using the Admin center in Office 365 but an even smarter way is to use PowerShell to do this, especially if you are going to install these add ins in multiple tenants.

To achieve this with PowerShell you are firstly going to have to go download and install the:

Office 365 Centralized Deployment PowerShell

which will allow you to deploy add ins using PowerShell commands.

Once you have installed this software go and fire up PowerShell command editor. You’ll need to connect/login to this service using the command:


but I’ve made connecting to the service easy for you by uploading a connection script to my GitHub repository here:

The thing to note about the connection is that this services doesn’t appear to support MFA identities so you’ll need to use an admin account that doesn’t have MFA enabled on it.

Once you have connected you’ll need to install the add in into the tenant using the command:


when you do this you’ll need to know the ‘Asset ID’ of the add in, which you will find in the URL for that add in in the store. The asset id appears in the form of WA104381180 for example. However, rather than you hunting around for these I’ve got them for you here:

Report Message = WA104381180

Message Header Analyzer = WA104005406

Findtime = WA104379803

The full command looks like:

New-OrganizationAddIn -AssetId ‘WA104381180’ -Locale ‘en-US’ -ContentMarket ‘en-US’

make sure you change the Locale and ContentMarket options to suit your environment.

You’ll then need to enable the add in within the tenant using the command:


for this you’ll need to the ‘Product Id’ of the add in. You can find that by running the command:


Here are the Product Id’s for my recommended add ins:

Report Message  = 6046742c-3aee-485e-a4ac-92ab7199db2e

Message Header Analyzer = 62916641-fc48-44ae-a2a3-163811f1c945

FindTime = 9758a0e2-7861-440f-b467-1823144e5b65

The full command to enable the add in within the tenant looks like:

Set-OrganizationAddIn -ProductId 6046742c-3aee-485e-a4ac-92ab7199db2e -Enabled $true

Finally, you’ll need to assign the add in to users. In this case, I believe these add ins should be mandatory for all users. Thus you run the command:

Set-OrganizationAddInAssignments -ProductId 6046742c-3aee-485e-a4ac-92ab7199db2e -AssignToEveryone $true

to do this.

Now you are all done and those add ins will roll out to every user in your tenant.

To read more about the PowerShell options available to you with PowerShell and centralised add in deployment check out this from Microsoft:

Use the Centralized Deployment PowerShell cmdlets to manage add-ins

I have also made the full deployment scripts for these three add ins available on my GitHub repository to save you time. You’ll find that script here:

That should make deploying your favourite Office add ins into Office 365 easier.

Need to Know podcast–Episode 191

Brenton and I get you up to date with all the most important announcements from Microsoft Ignite. You’ll hear about the new Microsoft Virtual Desktop services, improvements in OneDrive, and some exciting updates happening with Microsoft Stream. Throw in a Windows 10 update with news about Azure and there isn’t enough to cover everything in one episode. All this and whole heap more on this special Ignite update on the Need to Know podcast.

Take a listen and let us know what you think –

You can listen directly to this episode at:

Subscribe via iTunes at:

The podcast is also available on Stitcher at:

Don’t forget to give the show a rating as well as send us any feedback or suggestions you may have for the show.




Windows 10 1809 update

Top learnings from Microsoft Ignite

Password-less sign-ins

New in Teams