Office 365 Litigation Hold vs. Backup Solutions

Post Date: 01/30/2020
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Every day more organizations are making the shift to Office 365. Why wouldn’t they? With a host of collaboration services at end users’ fingertips and the cost of maintaining on-premises infrastructure, it’s difficult to not give in to the allure of a cloud-based collaboration platform. There’s no need to worry about server patchesupgrades, or….backups? 

While there are many infrastructurerelated tasks that are no longer necessary in an Office 365 world, backup is still something thats needed by both end users and businesses at large to help protect them from situations such as the accidental or malicious deletion of content,

What About Litigation Holds?  

Theres a common misconception that putting a litigation hold on all mailboxes can resolve the need for a third-party backup solution. While its true that litigation holds can allow for the preservation of e-mail content, its ultimately a tool better suited for security and legal needs than for end user service delivery. Here are a few things to consider: 

1. Using this method retains content from an entire user’s mailbox including irrelevant items such as spam or marketing e-mailsDoing this for all mailboxes in an organization can create massive amounts of clutter when attempting to leverage the eDiscovery and Content Search centers. 

Have questions about the differences between litigation holds and third-party backup services? Check out this post: Click To Tweet

2. The purpose of the litigation hold is not to restore lost data, but instead to preserve it for the purposes of investigations. Using this as a restoration method isn’t sustainable for most IT service managers. For example, if a manager was trying to retrieve a specific e-mail from a former employee’s mailboxthey would have to: 

  • Have an admin with the appropriate permissions perform an eDiscovery search 
  • Export the results of the search to PST 
  • Distribute the information to the requesting manager 
  • The manager would then have to open the resulting PST in Outlook (assuming there’s  appropriate knowledge on how to achieve this) 

3. Backup data is generally considered to be a copy of content stored in another location that’s able to be used in the event of data loss. Litigation holds do not provide a physically separate copy of the file. For security-conscious organizations or for those that must remain compliant with specific regulations, the inability to maintain a separate copy of the content falls short.

    • An example of such requirement is the CMMC Regulation C029 which states, “Regularly perform complete and comprehensive data back-ups, as organizationally defined, and store them off-site and offline.”

4. While the eDiscovery Center can be leveraged to search for content across Office 365, litigation holds are only applicable to Exchange mailboxes and e-mail content. This only further stresses that using these holds isn’t a viable Office 365 backup strategy on its own for additional services, such as Teams, Planner, and OneDrive to name a few. 

5. Litigation holds require you to keep paying licensing fees to Microsoft to maintain the data of former employees. 

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Why Third-Party Solutions Still Matter 

By investing in a third-party backup solution such as AvePoint’s Cloud Backup, providing backup and restore functions can be properly integrated into an IT Service Management process and made available to both the business and end users without the limitations of litigation holds or the additional permissions required for the eDiscovery Center.  

AvePoint provides organizations with support for major Office 365 workloads such as Exchange, SharePoint, Groups, Teams, OneDrive, Planner, Project Online, and Public Folders. With up to four restore points a day, flexible storage location options, and out of place restore capabilities, Cloud Backup can fit most organizations recovery point objectives and data security strategies. 

Want to learn how Cloud Backup can make a difference in your organization’s Office 365 strategy? Request a free demo today! 

Be sure to subscribe to our blog for more on litigation hold best practices. 

Antoine Snow is a senior solutions manager at AvePoint, leading the Public Sector business unit. He has held various positions in IT over the past several years ranging from front-end web developer to Microsoft 365 Service Owner. In his current role, Antoine focuses on governance and adoption challenges plaguing the modern workplace and helping government organizations understand the components of a governance strategy and its implementation. Antoine's views on these topics can be found in various blog posts and has been the focus of one-to-one workshops.

View all post by Antoine Snow
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