How to continuously back up Microsoft Office 365

Protection September 21, 2022

Continuous Data Protection (CDP) works by actively monitoring a target to detect and capture data changes in a near real-time manner. Unlike normal incremental scans or snapshots, which occur in a scheduled fashion, CDP is always running to capture new and modified files as the changes occur.

What makes this feature so important?


Understanding the challenges of backing up Office 365

In the days of on-premises Exchange, SharePoint, and SQL Server, backup software was using the Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) interface to capture backups. An agent using VSS would make calls to initiate the capture process, and VSS would quiesce the application and deliver the snapshot.

However, Office 365 backup isn’t as simple, because no such backup interface exists!

As a result, backup vendors are forced to work more like archiving software. They must connect to Office 365 using Microsoft’s APIs, and then traverse the hierarchy of data, evaluate for changes, and make calls to capture the delta.

Performing in this manner is a departure from the traditional backup approach since data is captured and managed at the individual object level. The process is difficult to scale and performance is tricky because of the API throttling policies Microsoft enforces for both SharePoint Online and Exchange Online.

This means many vendors offering Office 365 backup simply do not scale, so they target the small business market. We regularly hear this from IT professionals at medium and large enterprises who have evaluated Office 365 backup vendors. There’s a common theme that scaling beyond one or two terabytes of data is not possible. The other challenge is these vendors can’t perform quickly enough to capture the incremental within a nightly backup window.

But never fear. Veritas is here with continuous data protection.


How can you strategically apply CDP in your Office 365 backup plan?

Veritas can backup multiple terabytes per hour from Office 365, but even with this kind of throughput, the reality is that very large Office 365 tenants can still take time to traverse the data to capture the incremental. And here is where CDP has a nice fit in your Office 365 backup strategy: you can augment scheduled incremental jobs with continuous backup on high-importance site collections.

For example, if you have tens of thousands of OneDrive for Business users, then you have tens of thousands of site collections to protect. Any Office 365 backup solution will need to start scanning at the top of this list of site collections, make its way down to the bottom, and then repeat to capture your next incremental. If the incremental scan takes four hours to complete, you have a 4-hour recovery point objective (RPO) at best. But with CDP, you can target the OneDrive site collections owned by executive users, for instance, to achieve an RPO of a few seconds for their data.

The same strategy can be employed for Teams sites and any other SharePoint Online site collections.


How to enable continuous data protection in your Veritas tenant

Our development team did a fantastic job with Veritas Alta™ SaaS Protection, making CDP simple to configure. Here are the steps to enable it:


  1. On a specific Veritas Alta SaaS Protection connector, simply click the checkbox setting to enable “Continuous Data Protection.”
  2. Next, run the connector in a standard scan mode. Doing this will enable the Veritas to perform the necessary CDP registration with the targets that are in the configured scope of the connector.


Now you can go grab a coffee because that’s it!

You now have the flexibility to use scheduled or on-demand incremental scans in conjunction with running continuous protection. And you can use CDP on select targets, while you protect other targets with entirely different policies.

With the simple steps above, your Veritas solution is now actively looking for changes and backing them up within seconds.

If you want to learn more about Veritas’ Office 365 backup capabilities, download this Microsoft Office 365 backup solution datasheet, or connect with your Veritas account representative to book a demo and discuss how Veritas can help your organization.

Wayne Mortenson
Cloud Specialist
VOX Profile