Backing up Web Based E-mails

One of the more important parts of IT that has changed due to cloud computing is e-mail hosting. No longer are companies hosting their own e-mail; but opting for one of the common e-mail hosting solutions on the market (be it G-suite, Office365 or even GoDaddy). Even though it’s in the cloud; it’s still wise backing up web based e-mails.

Data protection by backing up web based e-mails should still be part of any businesses strategy.

There are many ways which backing up web based e-mails can be done – that’s why we are going to go through a few below.

Why back up e-mail when it is cloud hosted?

While it may not be obvious as to why you’d want to back up your e-mail when it’s hosted in the cloud; there are a few reasons why it’s still a necessity for any business to secure their data by having a backup (even if it’s cloud based).

1. Where exactly is your cloud data?

As the saying goes ‘the cloud is just someone else’s computer’. So where exactly is this computer; and is your data only stored on this computer or is it across multiple computers somewhere? By asking these questions; we’re just pointing out one thing – you’re no longer really in control of your data once it’s in the cloud.

By backing up web based e-mails to either a locally stored hard drive; or a private cloud that your businesses utilises means that if something happens to your mail hosting service that you still have control of your data.

2. Some hosting providers offer ‘backup’ but don’t always make their policy publicly available.

While most mail hosting providers say they offer ‘backup’ as part of their base terms; reading the fine print results in finding out that there are usually large restrictions on this ‘feature’.

All cloud service providers base their terms around the availability and continuity of their service. In other words; they’re only really responsible for you being able to access their service and data that is there is accessible to the correct users. They do this by making sure that the data is made redundant within their data centers.

Some offer a form of retention varying from 14 to 30 days; however it’s also known that they say users are still the owner of, and still responsible for their data. Basically this places any blame for data loss squarely on the user; and not the provider!

3. Are you in a regulated industry?

All the regular suspects that come under heavy governance of backup regulations need to backup their cloud based e-mail accounts. These include the financial, healthcare and legal sectors. The reason that these particular industries are singled out is due to the data compliance laws and regulations that they’re bound by.

HIPPA, GDPR and various privacy laws require complete and accurate records of all data to be kept for a large number of years (that usually go past the regular backup retention period most businesses would implement).

This means that it’s vital to be backing up web based e-mails and accounts regularly to stay compliant should an audit occur.

4. Ransomware

Unfortunately in today’s world; there are people out there that just want to access or damage data. It’s pretty well documented now that ransomware is a billion dollar ‘industry’ due to the fact that individuals and businesses don’t go about protecting their data properly.

A lot of what we hear from business owners are comments such as ‘it’s in the cloud, it’s safe’ give the wrong impression. Data is data, regardless of it being in the cloud or stored locally on premise. This means that even if it’s cloud based; businesses data can be impacted by a cyber attack and ransomware is still a major threat.

Having a robust backup of your mail data is still the best way to prevent having to potentially pay a ransom in the hopes that you ‘might’ get your data decrypted!

5. Could your business survive if your web hosted e-mail disappeared?

In a short answer – NO! E-mail is the most common communication type used within business.

Imagine if all your businesses e-mails just disappeared; without a trace. Would it affect your ability to service your customers effectively?
By making sure that you have multiple copies of your mailbox available; should anything happen to not only that one important e-mail, but your entire mailbox – you’re able to move forward and recover your mail data quickly.

Different ways of backing up Web Based E-mails

1. A dedicated backup solution

Whenever there is a large uptake of a particular technology – such as the cloud; this opens up fresh opportunities in a number of areas. Backing up web hosted e-mails is no different.

All the players within the disaster recovery and business continuity space are involved with a variety of solutions now available to easily protect your businesses cloud based e-mail accounts. All you need to do to see this is Google ‘Backup Office 365’ or ‘Backup G-suite’ to see how competitive this space is!

With anything backup related; it’s recommended best practice to implement and use a solution which is designed specifically for what you’re needing to solve. These solutions allow for automated scheduling, backing up data from specific date ranges and recovery processes which are simplistic to get your data back when you need it.

2. Export mail directly from your e-mail client

With all the common mail clients available; they all offer a way to import and export mail data.

Outlook allows for users to export mailbox data to a PST file.

Mozilla Thunderbird (yep – we thought it went the same way as the dodo too) is able to read .mbox files (basically the Unix equivalent of PST files) with just the requirement of installing an add-on.

Outlook for Mac allows a user to export data to an OLM file.

There are some drawbacks in this method; as it’s limited in being able to export data based on a date range without having to configure other functionality prior to doing so. Although it’s limited; the benefit is that the file is in the right format for the mail client you’re using – which means it’s a lot easier to import and get access to mailbox data in the event it’s needed.

3. Cloud Hosting Mail Export Options

Many of the hosting providers offer a way of performing a manual export of all mail data. This is a convenient way to get a copy of all your e-mail at very little cost. Although this is classified as more of a data archive; which means it’s a copy of data which may no longer be required for day to day operations but still needed in the event of an audit or legal requirement.

One thing to note with such services is the lack of options available. It’s an all or nothing approach when it comes to exporting e-mails from tools such as Google Takeout. Being limited in options; it’s unable to backup or archive e-mails based on a date range, attachment size or any other possible variant that could be used.

It’s also possible that the files that are provided may not be in the ideal format or other limitations such as size restrictions could end up preventing a successful recovery should it be required.

Summarizing the above; less control over how and what’s exported equals a higher chance of problems down the road.

Still not convinced that you need to backup your hosted e-mail; and how to do it effectively?

Then let Test My Backups know. We will be happy to take the time to provide real life cautious tales; talk through your situation and outline how we can help your business moving forward.