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Summary: Storing critical data on Microsoft SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business is vital, but backup is necessary due to potential risks like data loss, cyber threats, and service failures. This blog outlines manual backup methods and suggests professional tools for efficient SharePoint Online and OneDrive data backup and restoration.

In the modern era, ensuring a secure online repository for organizing and managing an organization’s data has become crucial. Microsoft SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business stand out as highly reliable and secure options for data storage. These platforms effectively store various types of documents, encompassing procedures, works in progress, templates, runbooks, and more.

These records are typically classified as extremely important. Any unintended erasure or data misplacement can lead to chaos within an organization. This is where backups play a crucial role in preventing such scenarios. In this blog, we will delve into the reasons for backing up SharePoint Online and OneDrive data and explore various approaches to achieve this.

Are SharePoint and OneDrive completely safe?

Certainly, Microsoft prioritizes robust security measures within its products. Nevertheless, potential risks such as inadvertent data loss and malware infiltration persist. Consequently, absolute confidence in the safety of data stored in the SharePoint Online and OneDrive platform is challenging, necessitating a consistent backup strategy. This involves preserving SharePoint Online content in offline files within local storage. Let’s delve into the rationale behind emphasizing the need for backups, shedding light on the crucial importance of safeguarding SharePoint Online and OneDrive data.

Why do we need to backup SharePoint Online and OneDrive data?

SharePoint Online and OneDrive have revolutionized data storage, prompting consideration of the necessity of backups due to Microsoft’s robust cloud infrastructure ensuring high availability and enhanced security. Nonetheless, organizations that prioritize their data still find backups imperative, advocating for backing up SharePoint Online and OneDrive for added assurance.

  • Risk of data corruption or server crashes in datacenters
  • Chances of online data hacking and other vulnerabilities
  • Failure in service, server downtime, and data unavailability
  • Cloud outages
  • Ransomware attacks
  • Accidental data deletion by users
  • Compliance requirements or company regulations
  • Employee exits and user removals

Backups serve the purpose of safeguarding copies of SharePoint Online and OneDrive data in a secure location, facilitating potential restoration to either the same or a different Office 365 account when necessary. By storing a backup of SharePoint Online in local storage, the file becomes accessible for cloud restoration as well.

So, having mentioned the reasons for a backup, the next topic of discussion would be the best practices for backup SharePoint Online and OneDrive data.

So, having mentioned the reasons for a backup, the next topic of discussion would be the SharePoint Online backup and restore best practices.

The topic includes the following subjects for discussion.

  • What SharePoint Online data can be backed up?
  • What are the manual strategies for backup and restoration?
  • How to restore lost data?
  • What are the challenges with the manual ways of backing up and restoring?
What SharePoint Online Data Can Be Backed Up?

SharePoint Online Backup will cover several features of a SharePoint account like the following –

  • Documents
  • Libraries
  • Lists and list items
  • Sites and subsites
  • SharePoint Online site collections
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Microsoft Project Online
  • Permissions
  • Pages
  • Versions
  • Forms
  • Templates
  • Settings and Views

Note: It is not feasible to create backups for Web Parts and Site page customization properties in SharePoint Online. However, other items can be stored in SharePoint Online with a designated format, allowing for efficient storage management.

What are the manual methods to backup SharePoint Online and OneDrive data?

The tool leverages the integrated eDiscovery functionality within Office 365, exclusively available for Enterprise E3 and E5 plans. This feature empowers users to safeguard SharePoint Sites and associated data through Litigation Hold, Search, and Export components. Users can customize data filtering by applying specific conditions like date, subject, size, among others. Although a litigation hold can be initiated and subsequently exported, it’s important to note that this isn’t a dedicated mechanism for backing up SharePoint Online.

  • Backup using the eDiscovery feature in Office 365: The integrated eDiscovery feature in Office 365 (available for Enterprise E3 and E5 plans) is employed for backing up SharePoint Sites and their data. This includes utilizing components such as Litigation Hold, Search, and Export. Users have the capability to apply filters based on criteria like date, subject, size, and more to refine the data selection. While a litigation hold can be established and subsequently exported, it’s important to note that this feature is not a dedicated backup system.
  • Backup using OneDrive Sync Client: Using the Microsoft OneDrive desktop application, individuals have the ability to synchronize specific documents from a SharePoint site into the designated OneDrive folder located on their system drive. This backup process primarily focuses on safeguarding files and documents stored in OneDrive.
  • Backup using Professional Utility: If you’re seeking to streamline the backup process for SharePoint Online and OneDrive data, consider opting for a reliable third-party solution such as Kernel Migration for SharePoint. This software stands out as a top-tier tool for efficiently backing up SharePoint Online and OneDrive data while ensuring comprehensive data integrity.
How to Restore Lost Data Manually?

Suppose there are no SharePoint Online Backup files are available and OneDrive; still, we can try some manual strategies to restore the data.

  • Files Restore for SharePoint: Microsoft has introduced a fresh recovery service that enables the retrieval of files and folders from the Site Library at any given moment. Those with authority, such as site owners or administrators, can utilize the “Restore this library” option found in the Library Settings panel to recover data from the corresponding Site Library.
  • Note: Users must have a minimum E3 subscription to use such retention services.

  • Use SharePoint Recycle Bins: The deleted data from SharePoint Online can be recovered back through the Recycle Bins for a limited period.
  • The initial Recycle Bin is referred to as the user Recycle Bin, housing user-deleted data for approximately 93 days, during which it can be restored. Once data is deleted from the user Recycle Bin, it is transferred to the Site Collection Recycle Bin. The total retention duration for data in both Recycle Bins is 93 days.

  • Through Retention Policies: The SharePoint Online data can have retention policies applied by the administrator. The administrator has the authority to determine the duration for which the data should be retained, even as users make changes or delete the data.
  • Take help from Microsoft: Microsoft conducts a backup of SharePoint Online data every 12 hours, retaining the backup for a period of 14 days. Office 365 administrators have the option to request a SharePoint Online backup from Microsoft, enabling the restoration of the entire Site Collection. However, it’s important to note that the restoration process takes several days to complete.
What are the Challenges with Manual Backup and Restore Practices?

Though these manual backup practices are free, there are some challenges associated with them:

With eDiscovery backup solution:

  • Limited to Office 365 E3 and E5 subscription plans only
  • More storage space is required (need to delete older items)
  • Multi-step procedure
  • If the user account is deleted, the backup data is lost forever.
  • The main purpose for retrieving archived organization data (not a complete backup solution)

With OneDrive Sync Client backup solution:

  • Inconsistent and irregular backup sometimes
  • Forced to clear more space for storage
  • Data loss risk is high due to manual errors
  • Need to install the Microsoft OneDrive desktop application
  • Only for backing up files/folders (OneDrive data)

With the Other Manual Backup/Restore Strategies

  • Limited period for retrieving data from SharePoint Online Recycle Bins
  • Usage of Retention policies is not a complete backup solution as it holds the deleted data only for a specified period.
  • Microsoft backups are useless for urgent data restoring requirements as it takes some time for a request to run and complete


After discussing the manual backup and restore practices and the challenges associated with them, we recommend using a professional solution to easily and quickly backup SharePoint Online and OneDrive data.

We’ve developed highly proficient software designed to perform SharePoint Online backup and restoration seamlessly. You can initiate this process by providing the SharePoint Site URL and login credentials. Moreover, our SharePoint migration tool facilitates smooth transitions between SharePoint Servers, whether they’re on-premises or online. Feel free to experiment with the demo version at no cost.

Kernel Migration for SharePoint