Tag: office365

Office 365 and the backup/data loss conundrum

With GDPR on the horizon and many organisations rapidly moving to Office 365, Azure services, Skype for Business and SharePoint online it seems many are not 100% clear on the distinction of responsiblities between their organisation and Microsoft themselves.

The plain bare fact is that YOU and your organisation are responsible for your data. All of it. Not Microsoft, sure they provide the service and there are SLA’s associated with those services – but those SLA’s can still be met if even if all your data was maliciously or accidentally erased i.e. the service is still running (even though all your data is gone!).

Microsoft are not responsible for backup or restore of your data.

Again, you might say there is 30 days backup for Office365 and 14 days for SharePoint online – but this only provides a limited amount of protection against data loss. Believe it or not any restore requirements are on a best effort from Microsoft as oppsed to tied to a distinct SLA. As with all cloud services, functionality and features continually change and evolve, a good thing generally BUT when talking about backup/restore and data loss this uncertainty around continual change represents a significant risk to your critical data.

Granular restore of a specific document in SharePoint online? Forget it, it’s either the whole Site Collection (yes, everything!) or nothing.

What to do about it?

First the DON’T: Don’t rely upon Recycle Bins & Version control; Don’t rely upon Microsoft Support; Don’t wait for a best effort restore that might wipe more recent data

Much like the traditional backup method > to tape, offsite storage, cyclical backup procedure, testing restores you need an equivalent plan for your data stored in:

  • Office 365
  • Azure VMs
  • SharePoint Online
  • Skype for Business
  • Onedrive
  • and more

You need a service that backs up your data reliably & efficiently, that has SLAs associated with it and allows easy granular data based restores as & when needed. Here are some BaaS options:

KeepIt – www.keepit.com – Simple setup cloud to cloud backup storage; backup Office 365 or G-suite; Easy to restore

Metalogix Essentials – www.metalogix.com – Migration and backup/restore for Office 365

CloudAlly – www.cloudally.com – Office 365 backup within a few clicks; Non-destructive Restore

AvePoint – www.avepoint.com – DocAve has been backing up SharePoint before cloud was a thing; Now they do Cloud; It’s a good thing

Skykick – www.skykick.com – SharePoint & Onedrive backup; Fast search; One-click Restore

There are more options of course.

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DirSync, Azure AD Sync – Support Ends April 13, 2017

Official Microsoft support for DirSync (x64, single forest) and Azure AD sync (multiple forests) ends within a year on April 13th 2017.

The information was only sent by email last week and not everyone will be aware and the only official Microsoft statement I can find is linked below:


Of course end of support does not mean your sync tool of choice will stop functioning – it will happily continue to function, but an upgrade will be needed to ensure it remains in support from next year onward.

So get your upgrade boots on and get Azure AD Connect working which is the replacement for any of the previous sync tools and was released in 2015, the link above has further links for an in-place or swing upgrade – whatever floats your boat (in reality choose the method that suits your organisation, also test it first in non-Production!!!)

Azure AD Connect
Azure AD Connect

Azure AD Connect essentially replaces any of the following you might still be running:

  • Dirsync
  • Azure AD Sync
  • Azure AD Connector
  • FIM 2012 R2


So seriously consider upgrading this side of Christmas, and not next Easter. You have been informed!

End of Support for legacy Azure sync products
End of Support for legacy Azure sync products
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Will Microsoft get it right with Windows 10?

Quick Background

You might be surprised to hear there are a fair number of people out there who were/are very happy with Windows 8. You will be even more surprised to know that some of them are not using a touchscreen or tablet interface, yes indeed they are happy with just the good old keyboard and mouse.

However the majority were not. I believe it was a bit of arrogance from Microsoft in making large assumptions about what people wanted in Windows 8. Maybe they should have learned from the Vista failure, perhaps they did as that was a different problem related to speed (or lack of) and reliability and driver issues.

There is no denying that Windows 8 is fast and relatively stable but the biggest mistake was assuming user would have a touch biased interface available across all systems – particularly among Desktop PCs and non-touchscreen Laptops. As an IT professional when I first came across Window 8 I had it setup in virtual environment to ‘test drive’ it, that initial test drive put me off Windows 8 almost permanently. The frustration at the wholesale changes and inability to intuitively do what I needed was enough for me to tell all and sundry to avoid Windows 8. The culture shock with the UI was that significant.

Microsoft OS 1 Year sales figures
Microsoft OS 1 Year sales figures

It was inevitable however that newer PCs would eventually drop support for Windows 7 drivers, becoming Windows 8.0 only and then 8.1. Once they did so it forced the OS upon people as opposed to being a consumer choice. I suspect Linux, Apple and Google (ChromeOS) reaped some of that frustration.

So what now for Windows 10 and what advice to those thinking of buying a new Windows device, should they wait for Windows 10 General Release?

I have been using Windows 10 Technical Preview for a few months now and I have to say I love it. It is a natural progression from Windows 7, with the speed and – as development continues hopefully – the reliability of Windows 8. There are plenty of changes but it really does feel like a true successor to Windows 7 rather than 8 or 8.1.

Now the interesting part, when will Windows 10 be ready and available? There are no firm dates as it’s too early but end of 2015 or early 2016 is probably a good guess. Sales of PCs have been relatively flat in recent years and a release of a desirable new OS from Microsoft can often provide a boost to PC manufacturers such as Dell, HP or Acer. There is rumour that licenses may actually be free for specific versions of Windows 10, however I doubt very much if Microsoft will try to levy a subscription charge instead. That would be a fatal mistake for consumers.

What about Business and Enterprise users?

The good news rumour of free licenses for Windows 10 will not apply to business users at all. In fact the cost to business may be the winning formula for Microsoft in terms of its share price and profit forecast!

The bad news however is your business applications. Most large companies I know and have worked within are either already using or migrating to Windows 7. Huge efforts have been made to rewrite & redeploy these important applications to work with Windows 7. Sadly Microsoft will probably only support applications written for or that work on Windows 8.1.

The move to Windows 10 is inevitable, so I strongly urge you to dig out the ‘Windows 8.1 Upgrade Assistant’ and run it in your environment today. That will go some way in telling you if your Windows 7 apps will work with 10. Starting early means less headache later. Good Luck.


Sales of the Windows Operating System and its close cousin the Office Suite continue to be a huge revenue stream for Microsoft with little sign of it shifting significantly over the next 3-5 years. Often the lock-in is due to corporate IT strategy based around a Windows client and the Office suite, which extends to influence users to seek the same familiarity on their personal devices.

It is still hard for me to use an on-screen keyboard as well as I can the traditional mechanical clunk, click. I’m getting there and Google Apps are immense in providing ease of use via multiple devices. I suspect the traditional PC will still be around as the workhorse for corporate and fixed domestic use, however mobile tablet and cellular devices will allow easier and more expansive capability and multi-device working. Enabling that seamlessly and securely is the key, so Windows 10 with OneDrive is a move in the right direction as is Office 365.

Windows 10 will complement those products and enhance mobility, it will be the true client Cloud OS just as Server 2012 R2 is touted as the server Cloud OS! People will take to it, corporate decision makers may decide to try flavour of the month but most will stick to tried, tested and invested. I expect Windows 10 to be as successful as Windows 7.


Since I drafted this blog post Microsoft have basically said anyone with Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 will get a free upgrade option to Windows 10 in the first year. Talk about kick-starting early adoption, a great move in my opinion – might stop me waiting for the first major service pack before upgrading to a newer OS. But hey habits are hard to break!

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