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Recovering Data/Content in SharePoint Online

Shashi Duddukuri | | September 11, 2018

In this blog I would like to discuss on how we can back up on restore SharePoint Online content, A lot of my clients have this question in their mind when they plan to migrate from on-premises to online, how do I do a backup of my content? And how do I restore it? I would say when it comes to back up in SharePoint Online, you don’t have the opportunity to back up the entire server from your end since these servers are maintained by Microsoft on their cloud environment.

You might be wondering or thinking about what the possibilities are in order to have the back up of your content in case of data loss. In this case, there are several options available in SharePoint Online which can provide you the opportunity to recover your content.

1. Using the OOTB Recycle bins and Version control

In this case you can only retrieve the content of document libraries (such as Files and folders) and SharePoint list items, by default all the document libraries enabled for major versions will allow you to restore the versions.

Users can retrieve their deleted items from User Recycle Bin (known as first stage recycle bin). By default, these files can be retained by users for 90 days, when users delete any files or items it will go to the recycle bin and then it goes to “Site Collection Recycle Bin” (known as second stage recycle bin). To retain their content, users can contact their site collection administrators and retrieve their data by providing the specific metadata information about the content. Site Collection Recycle Bin can hold the sites deleted by users which can be retrieved from there.

Version control is very useful when someone modified a document with unwanted content. We can retrieve an earlier version to overwrite the files, this feature needs to be turned on for each library to ensure the version control is working on their libraries.

2. Manual backup of your document libraries and sites

This option has certain limitations, you cannot preserve all metadata, versions or permissions of the files. This will allow you to ensure your document library content and list data saved to your shared location on any on premise servers or computers locally, which can be retrieved to your respective sites.

With this option we can open the document libraries in Windows Explorer mode to copy our content to any shred locations on a daily or weekly basis. For the restoring lists we need to export import them but may not be possible with a complex list which can have calculated to lookup columns present in the custom lists.

3. Raising a MS support request to restore the data

With this option you need to be a global admin to raise a request with MS support. We can raise a request by going to   Office 365 admin site and start your request for the content which we require. By default, the Microsoft team will perform a daily backup of your site collections every 12 hours and they will keep them for 14 days, when we request for any restoration of data, we need to provide the specific details (such as site, libraries and timestamps) of the content in our request.

With this option you have certain limitations on your data. It will overwrite your existing data with the request copy and it will create duplicate copies in your libraries, which you can identify and delete upon your findings.

4. Using third party tools

By opting for third party tools, makes it easy for an administrator to backup and restore SharePoint Online content and overcome the limitations of the above options.

There are few tools available in the market which can be used for recovering data in SharePoint Online. I’ve personally not used any tools, but these tools are available to help in the SharePoint Online world.

  • Avepoint
  • Quest
  • Metavis
  • Thinkscape

Please leave any questions or comments below. For additional SharePoint assets please click here.

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