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Summary: Microsoft 365 is widely adopted by businesses, but data loss risks persist. This article outlines common causes of data loss, including accidental and intentional deletions, malware attacks, migration errors, application neglect, and user license cancellations. To prevent data loss, it recommends disaster recovery planning and regular backups using tools like Kernel Office 365 Backup.

Microsoft 365 stands out as one of Microsoft’s most business-friendly products, drawing millions of businesses and users. Its cloud-based nature offers flexible data management. Despite robust security features, the potential for errors remains, which can lead to minor inconveniences or major data loss nightmares.

Numerous users procrastinate when it comes to Backup Office 365, inadvertently adding to their data load. However, various vulnerabilities exist that can jeopardize your data, potentially leading to data loss. In this article, we’ll discuss common scenarios that can result in Office 365 data loss and how to safeguard your data.

What are the common reasons behind data loss in Office 365?

Various situations can result in loss of data in Microsoft 365, but the most common ones are given below-

1- Deleting data by accident

Accidental data deletion ranks as the primary cause of data loss in Microsoft 365. Such occurrences are, by nature, unintentional and unavoidable. Users may inadvertently delete files and documents across various Office 365 applications, encompassing SharePoint Online, OneDrive, and Exchange Online.

What causes accidental deletion?

  • The user clicked on the wrong button and deleted an email, item, or file that was not supposed to.
  • The user assumes that files are no longer required and deletes them once the current project is over, only to realize they are necessary for future projects.

Microsoft 365 offers data recovery options, including email retrieval. In cases of accidental deletion from SharePoint Online, the data is retained for a period of 93 days. Beyond this timeframe, the data is permanently removed from the Recycle Bin.

2- Deleting data intentionally

Intentional deletion is another cause of Office 365 data loss, often stemming from delayed or inadequate communication with the admin when an employee departs the organization.

Consider a scenario where an employee is on the verge of leaving the organization, either through resignation or termination, and they retain access to Office 365 data. In such cases, there is a risk of the departing employee deliberately deleting accessible folders and data.

Hence, it is imperative to promptly notify the Office 365 administrator when an employee is on the verge of departing from the organization. This proactive step will aid in averting the unintentional deletion of crucial data.

3- Malware, Ransomware & viruses

Despite the continuous efforts to bolster security on various platforms, malicious activities continue to evolve. Even with robust Office 365 security measures in place, the persistent threat of cyberattacks remains. These incidents can strike any user account, leading to potential data loss. In the event of a hacker gaining access to your Microsoft 365 account, the application may struggle to identify the unauthorized user.

How does it occur?

  • Phishing attacks- These attacks trick you into putting essential information, logins, passwords, and email addresses, which attackers can later use to remove your entire data.
  • Ransomware – Office 365 access can also be affected when ransomware locks your system. These attacks occur within a fraction of a second and can cause a heavy loss to the business.
  • Malware – Malware can enter your system or Office 365 account via a lousy email attachment, compromising your system, server, and network data.

The entire staff must undergo extensive malware and cyberattack prevention training and implement strict policies to avoid such situations.

4- Poor data migration

When migrating data between email servers, the risk of substantial data loss is ever-present. Data loss can occur when the migration process between two email platforms encounters issues or errors. Additionally, there’s a chance of unintentionally deleting or overwriting critical information during the migration process.

This situation often arises when manual migration procedures are employed, which are prone to errors. Even a minor error during the data migration process can lead to significant losses for the organization.

To avoid those situations, experts recommend using reliable third-party software like Kernel Office 365 Migration tool for migrating data to Microsoft 365.

5- Neglecting the protection of applications

While vendors frequently safeguard vital data files located outside of Exchange Online, Office 365 apps are frequently neglected. Many individuals choose to store critical data in Office 365 applications rather than on network drives. However, failing to back up this data promptly can result in potential loss. Hence, it is imperative to also prioritize the protection of Office 365 applications.

6- Cancellation of user license

Upon an employee’s departure from the organization, their access to the Microsoft 365 account is typically revoked, and the corresponding Office 365 license is canceled. Unfortunately, the data stored in that account is often overlooked, leading to unintended data inaccessibility when an account’s license expires.

How to prevent data loss in Office 365?

A more effective approach is to proactively prepare for the worst-case scenarios. Numerous organizations establish comprehensive disaster recovery plans that can be swiftly executed if necessary. These plans outline the precise steps to be taken during times of crisis.

In addition, users must develop a healthy habit of regularly backing up all their essential data. Automated tools can be utilized since they offer secure backup of data error-free. Kernel Office 365 Backup is the best tool to help you backup Office 365 mailboxes. It has advanced features like selective data backup, saving data in multiple file formats, supports all mailboxes and Microsoft 365 versions, etc. Also, the tool process is relatively smooth, and you can export your Office 365 mailboxes to PST or any other format.


While storing data in Office 365 is generally secure, the potential risks of malware infiltration or intentional data deletion by users make data backup essential. This article outlines common scenarios that could lead to Office 365 data loss, emphasizing the importance of data backup for security. Also, we have provided a solution to export Office 365 data to PST.