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February 20, 2019
Office 365

Backing up Office 365 Data: On-Premises vs Cloud

You already know that you need to be backing up your Office 365 data. But would it be better to backup your data on-site or to use a cloud backup?

What do you need from a backup?

In most cases, you’ll need a backup to protect your data from ransomware, employee error, malicious internal attack, third-party integrations, and accidental overwrites. For every backup method you use, you’ll want to make sure it meets the following SAFE criteria:

  • Secure: Your data should be secure from unwanted intrusion as well from accidental or intentional destruction

  • Accessible: If you need some data back, you need a fast and easy way to retrieve it

  • Fast: Backup storage and retrieval should be fast so that it can be backed up and retrieved with a minimal disruption to your business

  • Easy: The data backups need to be as easy as possible to ensure that your data will be backed up regularly. Ideally, your backup will be automated

Using on-premises backup

If you decide to go with an on-premises backup, it will usually cost you a little more up-front, but it might wind up being cheaper in the long run. You’ll need the appropriate storage hardware (hard drives), and you’ll need to set it up to easily backup your data.

Expected Vulnerabilities:

On-premises backup is susceptible to the following vulnerabilities:


Your on-premises backup is only as safe as the hardware. Any portable hardware that can access the backups can also damage the backups, and all the normal hazards that apply to any computer equipment (user error, ransomware, natural disaster, flooding, smoke damage) apply to your backups.

Ease of use

The more secure you make your backups, the less accessible those backups will be in the event of a data loss.


The speed of an on-premises backup is limited to the speed of the drive, the speed of the computer equipment, and the speed of the cables. More money can create a much faster and robust system, but cheaper systems are likely to suffer from lag.


On-premises backup is usually not automated, so it’s important that regular backups are performed.

Your IT department can mitigate a lot of these vulnerabilities, given the right tools and equipment. Cheap equipment, substandard tools, and poorly trained IT staff can make your on-premises backup bulky, insecure, and hard to use.

Using cloud backups

Cloud-based backups usually have a very low up-front cost, as they’re often based on a subscription model where you’re either charged on a monthly or a usage basis. For smaller companies without a dedicated IT department, cloud backups may be the easiest way to start making regular backups.

Possible vulnerabilities:

If you’re going with a cloud backup provider, there may be a big difference in the quality of service you receive. Higher-level backup providers usually have fewer vulnerabilities.


Because a cloud-based backup is online, it can be hacked. You can mitigate this risk by choosing a backup provider with strong security measures. The best backup providers will also duplicate your data on multiple servers so that a hardware problem with a single server won’t destroy your data.

Offline access

A cloud backup is only accessible when you’re online. If your Internet Service Provider gives you choppy or inconsistent service, a cloud backup may be difficult to access without a reliable Internet connection.

Ease of setup

Your cloud backup solution may offer automated backups, but it could be difficult to properly setup your backups when you first start with a new service. Some backup service providers will walk you through setup with onboarding, but others are complicated to setup and offer little guidance.

Hybrid backups

Many companies will opt for a hybrid model. With a hybrid model, some data is backed up on local or network hard drives on the premises, some is backed up to a cloud, and some data may be backed up in both locations. A hybrid model offers increased protection against data loss, but it could expose your company to a higher risk for data breaches and theft. Because a hybrid model requires excellent data management skills, it’s best to discuss the options with your IT department to find ways to eliminate or lessen the risk.


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