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How to Back Up and Recover Microsoft Teams Data

Microsoft Teams is a communication and collaboration platform. It has persistent chat, video meetings, file storage, and application integration. Many companies rely on it as their central source for talking to colleagues and sharing data.

As a result of the pandemic, Microsoft Teams has seen a surge in popularity. While the platform was always popular and growing in usage, the fact that so many people were suddenly forced to work from home saw Teams boom.

Some may think of Teams as an alternative to platforms like Zoom or Slack. In actuality, Teams is so much more than that. It stores a lot of data, like chat messages, documents, images, videos, audio recordings, contacts, and more. It can be the central repository for projects and departments, along with a way to hold virtual meetings.

Since Teams is so data-rich, it’s important that you backup everything that’s stored on it. While traditionally users might have stored data within their computer’s local folders, which are easy to backup via the network, things are more disparate on Teams.

Backing up Teams isn’t as simple as flipping a switch. You need to carefully plan and consider to understand not only what types of data your organisation are producing, but understand where Teams data gets stored.

Teams is part of Microsoft 365 and there’s no end of products on the market that can backup products within that package like OneDrive, SharePoint, and Exchange. However, there are some applications that lots of backup products don’t support, including Yammer, Planner, and Teams.

What makes Teams backup complicated is that the data isn’t stored in a single place. Conversation history and calendar data is stored in Exchange, chat files in OneDrive, and channel files and wikis in SharePoint. This means that you need to backup all three of these different Microsoft 365 facilities to have full coverage of your Teams data.

While most backup applications will be able to capture this data, providing you know to tell it to, restoring is a bit trickier. The data might be recoverable, but placing it back into Teams so that it’s accessible as it was beforehand often has to be done manually. For large organisations, this isn’t good enough.

Happily, Microsoft have released a Teams backup API that will make things a whole lot easier. The freshness of this API means that backup vendors won’t have yet integrated it into their services, but they should do soon – you might want to contact them to find out when that’s going to happen.

Until then, you should follow Microsoft’s standard retention policies to capture as much as your Teams data as possible. The Microsoft 365 administrator can find these within the Data management section of their dashboard – retention policies can be set on the basis of deletion (purging data automatically when it’s no longer useful) and preservation (keeping data active and accessible in order to comply to laws, until it’s then sent for deletion). Using these policies, you can recover data without pulling your backup, which should reduce workload.


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