Office 365 - Email backup strategies

Audience: Departmental IT organizations and individuals interested in backing up their mailbox data.


The purpose of this document is to provide strategies for backing up your Office 365 mailbox data. These strategies include:

  1. Manually backing up data
  2. Using a third-party application to automatically backup mailbox data
  3. IT staff backing up data for all users within a department

Learn more

1. Manual backup options

This strategy is not recommended as a long term solution but can be used as a temporary measure to ensure data is backed up.

2. Third-party automatic backup tools and services

The third-party services below automatically create a local backup of mailbox data. This strategy, using these tools, can be used as a long term solution by either an individual or departmental IT staff on behalf of multiple people.

  • MailStore Server

    • MailStore Server can backup multiple Office 365 mailbox data in a local archive on your computer. You can do this either on a shared server, your PC, or USB drive as a "portable" option.
    • MailStore Server provides additional capabilities for additional cost.
    • Website:
    • Configuration instructions

  • Other options

    • Services such as CloudAlly, Metalogix, and Backupify might also provide options to automate the process of backing up and restore mailbox data. However, the Office 365 Team has not tested these services.

3. IT staff backing up data for all users within a department

Use third-party services, such as those listed above, for automating backups. Configure your preferred service to access the mailbox for each user within a department.

Prerequisite for using a service account to backup mailbox data

Create an Office 365 service account (e.g. for the purpose of accessing each mailbox. The service account will need full mailbox permissions to each individual's mailbox in order to backup and restore their mailbox data.

To obtain full mailbox permissions you can:

  • Ask individuals to grant the Office 365 service account full mailbox permissions to their account.
  • Grant full mailbox permissions on their behalf if you have authorized administrative access to the individual's account.

The strategy listed above can be required and enforced via a departmental policy as a method to ensure all user's mailbox data are backed up and capable of being restored by departmental IT staff.

Advantages of backing up departmental Office 365 email

  • Protection against data loss using 3-2-1 backup strategy (e.g., fat finger, ransomware, security threats).
    • Assists with recovering deleted email.
  • Record retention and eDiscovery.
    • The Office of Legal Affairs and Office of Cybersecurity have the ability to place mailbox holds and perform eDiscovery searches for all individuals using Office 365.
    • Using a third-party tool can be considered supplementary for the purposes of eDiscovery and record retention.
    • Ideal in a situation where departmental IT have a need to assist in such activity.

3-2-1 Backup strategy

What is a 3-2-1 Backup strategy?

  1. Have at least 3 copies of your data.
  2. Backup your data in 2 different locations.(e.g.,internal hard drive, external hard drive)
  3. Have 1 copy of your backup location offsite (e.g., cloud)
Source: 3-2-1 Backup Before It’s Too Late


  1. Cloud-based copy: Your mailbox in Office 365 is considered one copy. Microsoft mirrors your data across geographically and has various safeguards to prevent accidental deletion and provides facilities for restoring accidentally deleted items.
  2. Local copy: Third-party software can be used to automatically copy mailbox data to a departmental server or workstation. Ex: Mailstore
  3. External copy: Local copy can be saved to a backup service. Ex: Bucky Backup
Note: A department's backup strategy will be contextual based on departmental needs and resources.

Keywords:office 365 microsoft email backup restore desktop delete recover   Doc ID:72097
Owner:Christina G.Group:Office 365
Created:2017-03-28 10:42 CSTUpdated:2017-07-17 14:43 CST
Sites:Office 365
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