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Microsoft Teams is Microsoft’s fastest-growing business app, and it has gained huge popularity in the past years. It became the collaboration hub of the Microsoft 365 packages and is one of the most valued by remote and onsite employees.
Teams offers different features and functions such as chats, online meetings, videos, recordings, file sharing and more. These features generate a data-rich environment, and data is saved in various locations – Exchange, SharePoint Online, Azure Active Directory and OneDrive. However, preserving, backing up and recovering this data if necessary is the organisation’s responsibility.
Organisations and businesses need to back up their Microsoft Teams data mainly because of the following seven reasons :
- Accidental deletion
- Retention policy confusion/gaps
- Internal security threats (malicious insiders/departing employees)
- External security threats (ransomware, rogue apps)
- Legal and compliance requirements
- Managing hybrid deployments and migrations
- Teams data structure.
If they fail to do so, data loss can lead to additional financial losses, fines, litigation and security expenses, reputational damage, customer turnover and more. That is why more and more people realise the necessity of implementing proper backups and disaster recovery plans.
However, recovering Teams data can be a strenuous process, and different factors need to be considered. This article will talk about the best Microsoft Teams backup and recovery practices.
Also, if you need help or assistance with Microsoft Teams backup then contact us to setup a no obligation consultation.
An Overview of Microsoft Teams Backup Best Practices
Microsoft offers native support to backup applications and backup products but only to an extent. While many backup software and services are available, not many of them offer Teams data backup and recovery.
The main reason is it is a time-consuming and somewhat complex process. Instead of being in one location, Microsoft actually stores Teams files, media and other data types across different cloud locations.
A proper Teams backup solution and a plan for restoring Teams data are essential for your business. Microsoft Teams offers countless features, functions and data types, making it popular throughout different industries, brands, remote and onsite workers.
Some of the most used functions include:
- Teams and channels
- Conversations within channels and teams
- Chats (one-on-one, groups, teams)
- Document storage
- Online video calling
- Online meetings
- Full telephony
- Group chat
- Access control
- Assistant bots
- Accessibility features
- Channel-based working
- Message threads
- Channel favouriting and following
- Emojis, GIFs, and stickers
- Multi-factor authentication
- Microsoft Teams meetings
- Meeting scheduling
- Audio conferencing
- File sharing
- Screen sharing
- Usage reports
- Together mode
- Team messages
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Out of all Microsoft 365 applications, it is most challenging to backup Teams. That is mainly because your Teams’ data backup and recovery will take lots of time to be correctly planned and executed.
In addition to that, you need to understand precisely where Microsoft stores your app data, and you need to be able to retrieve it back. Below is a table showing a few data types, Teams related data elements and storing locations.
|Data Type||Data Type Element||Storing Location|
|Microsoft Teams chats||Chat messages, voice memos, adaptive card messages||Exchange Mailbox|
|Microsoft Teams chats||Shared files||OneDrive for Business|
|Microsoft Teams chats||Inline images, emojis, stickers, and GIFs||Azure Media Services|
|Microsoft Teams channels||Channel messages, voice memos, and adaptive card messages||Azure Chat Service|
|Microsoft Teams channels||Inline images, emojis, stickers, and GIFs||Azure Media Services|
|Microsoft Teams channels||Shared files and emails||SharePoint sites|
|Microsoft Teams channels||Wiki Tabs||SharePoint sites|
|Microsoft Teams calls||Call recordings||OneDrive for Business/Azure Media Services|
|Microsoft Teams calls||Voicemails and transcriptions||Exchange mailbox|
|Microsoft Teams meetings||Chats and voice memos||Azure Chat Service|
|Microsoft Teams private meetings||Shared files and meeting recordings||OneDrive for Business|
|Microsoft Teams channel and private channel meetings||Shared files and meeting recordings||SharePoint sites|
|Microsoft Teams meetings||Inline images, emojis, and stickers||Azure Media Services|
|Microsoft Teams live events||Recordings, reports and transcription||Azure Media Services|
*The table exhibits different Microsoft Teams data types, elements and the cloud location where they are stored.
Given all this information, you can imagine it might be challenging to choose the best Microsoft Teams practices to recover data. That’s why in this article, we discuss all the steps you need to take to ensure business continuity.
Protect All Needed Teams Data
First and most importantly, you need to prioritise your data types, files, messages, teams, channels and mark them according to what is most important for your business and which data needs to be retrieved first in case of data loss.
How to decide which data is most important?
Think about what’s most important for your workflow and organisation. Do you have regular video calls with your team to discuss project progress or ideas, and do you need their recordings stored safely? Do you mainly work via channels and chat messages? Do you share many files and media such as images, presentations, word documents and others?
How will this help me?
Answering the questions above will help you prioritise the data you need to backup and retrieve first, before everything else. It will also help the backup process since you already know where the information is stored – SharePoint, OneDrive, Azure Services or Exchange Mailbox.
Calculate the Amount of Data You Have to Protect
Storage limit considerations
Microsoft offers specific storage limits for organisations using Teams and their corresponding SharePoint sites. When you create a team within the application, you automatically create a SharePoint site for this team, where all shared files, emails and recordings are stored in the document library.
The storage limit for SharePoint items coming from Teams is 1 TB, and each user receives ten additional GB. That limit is per organisation and not per site.
Why is that a problem?
The problem with storage limit usually comes with retention policies and the inability to retrieve lost/deleted files. Typically, when the limit is reached, and the organisation hasn’t purchased additional storage, the system automatically deletes files, starting with the oldest date. If this happens, you have no control over what data is lost and what remains intact.
Is there a solution?
One way to deal with a situation like this is to purchase more storage from Microsoft. They allow you to use a maximum of 25 TB for one organisation. However, this comes with a price. You might invest them in maximum storage capacity if you have unlimited resources.
For enterprises and businesses that don’t have unlimited resources, it’s best to calculate the exact amount of data you have to protect. Luckily, Microsoft 365 can monitor and report user-specific data such as activity, storage and app use and more.
These reports can help you identify how much of your previously prioritised data you need to backup and protect against potential loss. After calculating the amount of data, you can purchase the storage space you need, ensuring your workflow will stay uninterrupted.
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Back-Up Microsoft Teams 365 Data Regularly
Regular backups are essential for all applications and data, including Microsoft Teams. With more and more employees working remotely, online communication occurs daily. Since Teams is the collaboration hub for your employees, file updates, new messages, and meetings are a constant.
You cannot predict external and internal security threats. That’s why you always need to have updated backup copies of your most valuable data. Depending on how much data you need to copy, full backups can take a lot of time.
You can implement full backups once a week or once a month. Daily incremental backups will update your previously saved files to their latest version and will not take as long as the full ones. That way, you will have the latest versions of your data and save time.
Follow the 3-2-1 Backup Rule
The 3-2-1 backup rule is a very efficient strategy to protect your data.
Many organisations and backup vendors use this rule since it’s incredibly effective. The “3-2-1” stands for:
- 3 – keep at least three copies of your data
- 2 – store two backup copies on different storage media
- 1 – keep one of them located offsite.
This rule leaves you prepared for any event that might occur. Storing a backup copy of your data offsite will allow you to continue working in case of events that affect the premises. Such events might be fires, hurricanes, power outages and short circuits.
You can save this copy on OneDrive or another cloud provider. In addition, keeping backup copies to different storage media minimises the risk of losing data due to hardware failure, accidental overwrite or deletion.
Configure Teams Compliance Retention Policies and Settings
What are Microsoft Teams’ retention policies?
Retention policies on their own are not a backup solution but a solution for organisations to keep or delete data according to their requirements. Microsoft Teams retention policies can be either static (specific data sets) or adaptive (changing according to organisational structure).
Organisation requirements can be based on legal, internal or industry standards and some examples include:
- Deleting outdated/unnecessary information
- Preserving files for a minimum amount of time (e.g. invoices)
- Deleting files that you’re no longer required to keep but might be a liability
Which settings can I configure in Teams?
As an admin, you can configure retention settings for Microsoft Teams chats messages and Microsoft teams channel messages. You can set rules to retain, delete, or retain for some time and then delete this data.
Keep in mind that if you decide to retain it, users still can delete their messages in the app, but data will be available in the eDiscovery directory.
As we mentioned above, an incremental backup will provide you with your data’s most recent forms. However, large organisations work with many employees, and some of them make mistakes, while others are departing, but you are not sure what their intentions are. All of that can result in unwanted changes or corrupted files.
Versioning keeps previous copies (updates) of documents, files, lists, and libraries available to you at all times. Enabling versioning allows you to control the content and view or restore a previous version.
The downside is that more versions of the same document require more storage space, and there’s also a limit on how many versions you can retain.
After you have decided which and how much data you need to protect, now it’s time to consider the security of your backup. That mainly involves where you store it and who has access to it.
Limit permissions and user access, implement an authentication process, do not store your backups on production servers and always encrypt your data when you copy it.
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Use Software that Supports Granular Recovery
Good backup software not only protects all of Microsoft Teams’ data but also supports granular recovery. Granular recovery is a function that allows you to select and recover a specific group of files and even single files.
This functionality is especially useful when you have large amounts of data, and recovering all of it at the same time will take a considerable amount of time. Instead, you can use granular recovery and restore custom items.