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office 365 archiving

Modern archiving: top tips to dodge storage thresholds

All good things have limits, including SharePoint’s free online storage. The current 1TB per tenant, or 10GB per user limit on SharePoint/Teams may seem perfectly generous at first glance, but these days, a lot of organisations are finding themselves teetering on the edge of that threshold and needing to find a way to perform Office 365 archiving.

Now, we have a sneaking suspicion that Microsoft may increase storage thresholds to accommodate this trend in the near future, but let’s not count those chickens before they hatch. Instead, let’s take a look at why enterprise storage requirements are ballooning and what can be done to address this without putting limits on users, compromising Office 365 integration, or paying a premium for additional Office 365 storage.

Why is data growing so fast?

The obvious answer to this question is that more and more workflows are being handled digitally. Users aren’t just creating files and emails anymore – modern platforms like Microsoft SharePoint and Teams have added a whole new layer of collaborative tools to the mix. These can be extraordinarily powerful business assets, but also generate a significant amount of data in the form of voice, video, chat, scheduling and other potentially storage-heavy streams – all of which need to be stored according to compliance and data governance policies.

The pandemic-driven work-from-home movement has only added to this burden, driving up the frequency of virtual meetings, online chat, content sharing and collaboration. As a result, businesses that may have been well within their SharePoint storage limits a year ago could easily be spilling over into expensive storage space today.

Reducing your data footprint in Office 365

Step 1: Housekeeping

There are a few options available when it comes to cutting down your data footprint within Office 365, but a little bit of housekeeping is always a good first step.

The fact is, without stringent retention and disposition policies in place (read more on that here), a significant amount of “data clutter” or ROT (random, outdated and/or trivial information) can easily accumulate. A careful check of governance policies often brings this clutter to light, enabling you to defensibly delete it and free up valuable storage space. (Side benefits include improved compliance and minimised exposure in the event of a breach.)

Step 2: Archive selected content out of Office 365

If your decluttered footprint is still above SharePoint’s free storage threshold, you’ll need to get a little more proactive with your content management. By this, we mean archiving selected content outside of Office 365.

Why not just use Microsoft’s native archive functionality, you ask? Because anything kept in Office 365 (archived or not) still counts towards your storage limits, so this won’t get you any closer to sliding underneath those free SharePoint thresholds.

How to choose an external archive solution

Gone are the days of choosing an archive solution based on cost alone. In fact, in our experience with highly regulated industries, the reputation damage and fines incurred for getting this kind of data handling wrong far outweigh the price of the solution itself.

For this reason, we always recommend approaching an archive solution from a compliance and governance perspective first, including functionality like data privacy and data subject access handling.

The next consideration should be the ability to perform defensible deletion as part of the archiving process. After all, archiving is no longer a “keep it all, forever” situation. Rather, it should be a strategic function of carefully considered data retention policies. That makes what you delete just as important as what you retain, and your chosen archive platform needs to support this process.

Don’t forget to pay attention to how well a solution integrates with Office 365, as well. This is an often-overlooked feature that can make a world of difference to the speed, ease and efficiency of archiving and restoring data.

In light of all the above, our recommended archiving platform is almost always HubStor. It offers outstanding compliance and governance features, facilitates easy implementation of data retention policies via powerful data analysis tools, and resides in the Azure cloud, making for seamless Office365 integration. Add bonus built-in functionality like eDiscovery and malware protection, and it’s easy to see why HubStor leaves most other archiving platforms standing.

That said, archiving isn’t always a one-size-fits-all situation. For a custom assessment of your organisation’s archiving requirements, and tailored advice on getting the most from your free Office 365 and SharePoint storage, get in touch with Cloud Essentials’ archiving specialists.