How to Take SharePoint Online Backup, Best Practices

Megha Sharma
Megha Sharma linkedin | Updated On - October 28, 2022 |

Read time 5 minutes

Office 365 SharePoint or SharePoint Online is a popular platform to store and manage data online. It stores data in the form of SharePoint lists and libraries. The highest level of data storage is Site Collection, which is composed of multiple SharePoint Sites. Though a little complex in structure, SharePoint Online is considered one of the best applications for content management and collaboration. Also, this cloud version of SharePoint facilitates universal accessibility of data, which makes it the best application for remote working and working from home.

Is SharePoint completely safe?

One cannot feel completely confident about the security of data stored in the SharePoint Online environment, and so, there is a regular need for backups. Why are we focusing on backup? Here are some valid points which compel users to think about how important It is to back up their SharePoint Online data.

Why do we need to backup SharePoint data?

SharePoint Online backup is suggested because there can be

  • 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

And backups are meant to secure a copy of the SharePoint Online data in a safe destination so that it can be restored to the same or different Office 365 account when there is a need.

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?

Users can back up the following data from SharePoint Online.

  • 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: The backup of Web Parts and Site page customization properties in SharePoint Online is not possible.

What are the native methods to backup SharePoint Online?

When we talk about the manual backup of SharePoint Online, we have these options with us.

  • Backup using the eDiscovery feature in Office 365: It utilizes the integrated eDiscovery feature in Office 365 (only for Enterprise E3 and E5 plans), which allows users to backup SharePoint Sites and their data using its components – Litigation Hold, Search, and Export. Users can add conditions based on date, subject, size, etc. to filter the data. A litigation hold can be created and later exported. However, keep in mind that it is not a dedicated backup mechanism.
  • Backup using OneDrive Sync Client: With the Microsoft OneDrive desktop application, users can sync the desired SharePoint site documents to the OneDrive folder on the system drive location. And this backup mechanism is mainly for the files and documents in OneDrive storage.
  • Backup using Professional Utility: If you do want to automate or simplify the backup of SharePoint Online data, you are welcome to choose a trusted third-party software like Kernel Migrator for SharePoint to backup your SharePoint Online data automatically. It backups almost all components of SharePoint Online.

How to Restore Lost Data Manually?

Suppose there are no backups available for SharePoint Online, we can try some manual strategies to restore the data.

  • Files Restore for SharePoint: It is a new recovery service provided by Microsoft, which offers to restore files and folders from Site Library at any point in time. An option is available within the Library Settings panel named “Restore this library,” which can be used by Site owners or administrators to restore data from the respective 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 first Recycle Bin is called the user Recycle Bin, which contains the data deleted by the user, for about 93 days (can be recovered within this period). The data deleted from the user Recycle Bin shifts to the Site Collection Recycle Bin. The combined retention period for both the Recycle Bin is 93 days.

  • Through Retention Policies: Retention policies can be applied by the administrator to the SharePoint Online data. They can decide the data retention period on the desired data while the user performs modification or deletion actions on it.
  • Take help from Microsoft: Microsoft takes a backup of the SharePoint Online data every 12 hours (this backup retains for 14 days period. The Office 365 administrator can contact Microsoft for the SharePoint Online backup filing a request. This can be used to restore the entire Site Collection together. Though, the process takes some days the completion.

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
  • 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 have an easy and quick backup/restore of SharePoint Online data.

    We bring you the most suitable tool to backup and restore the SharePoint Online data. You can do start the process using the SharePoint Site URL and login details. In addition, the SharePoint migration tool allows migrating between SharePoint Servers (both on-premises and Online). It can be tried for free with the demo version.

    Kernel Migrator for SharePoint