Revisiting some facts around Microsoft 365 backup

A while ago I wrote an article:

Do you need to backup Office 365?

Recently, Tony Redmond wrote this article on a similar topic:

Questioning Six Reasons Why Backing up Office 365 is Critical

That then lead to the following debate:

The Great Debate: The Need For Office 365 Backup [VIDEO]

I’ve also seen people quote the following from Microsoft:

Microsoft Services Agreement

which contains the following clause:


which reads:

“We recommend that you regularly backup Your Content and Data that you store on the Services or store using Third-Party Apps and Services.”

However, it is important to note at the top of that document:


which reads:

These terms (“Terms“) cover the use of those Microsoft consumer products, websites, and services listed at the end of these Terms here (#serviceslist) (the “Services“).”

Note hyperlink to “services” that agreement actually covers. That leads to the following URL:

and when you look through that list there are no M365/O365 commercial services listed:


Thus, that Microsoft Services Agreement doesn’t apply when talking about data retention in Microsoft 365 commercial products.

In fact, the following slide was taken from a recent Microsoft Ignite 2020 presentation:


Here’s the time stamped video it came from – (Protecting Exchange Online Mailboxes As A Secure Vault)

I will also highlight the following article:

Set the OneDrive retention for deleted users

which says:


The minimum value is 30 days and the maximum value is 3650 days (ten years).

As my original article states and Tony Redmond reinforces, the importance is to understand what M365 does out of the box with data retention and how that can and ‘should’ be configured to reduce risk. After which, third party products can be added to supplement what Microsoft 365 does. As I say, more backups are good but at some point they fail to significantly reduce risk for the investment made in them. That point is up to the individual business to determine.

It is important to have the correct information when it comes to data retention and recovery in Microsoft 365, and if you don’t appreciate what can be done with Microsoft 365 out of box then I’d encourage you to go and take a closer look, because it does a pretty good job in my opinion.

5 thoughts on “Revisiting some facts around Microsoft 365 backup

  1. Might need to review the covered services. Now covers Microsoft Teams and OneDrive. Although it doesn’t mention SharePoint which ultimately seems to be the backend to all of these services


    1. I don’t follow what you mean?? The MS commercial services agreement covers commercial services like Teams and SharePoint. This article initially points to the consumer services agreements which is totally independent of commercial services like Teams and SharePoint in Microsoft 365.


  2. If this is not the location of the correct Service Agreement, can you please share a link to the appropriate SA for Microsoft 365 commercial?


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