In this blogpost I’d like to describe on a high level what you can do regarding backup (and restore) Microsoft Teams chats and files (January 2019, this might be subject to change).
Do you need backups of Teams (data) stored within a global hyperscaler cloud infrastructure? Shouldn’t it be resilient and highly available based on the SLAs …? Well, there is no one-size-fits-all-answer. It depends on your requirements and needs. However, in my opinion, it’s not a bad idea to have a (working) backup in place in case data was deleted or became inaccessible, anyhow.
Where are my Teams conversations and files located?
We need to differentiate between actual Teams and Chat (see screenshot below, I’ll call it hereinafter “Personal Chat”). “Personal Chat” are direct one on one (1:1) as well as one to many (1:m) chats or conversations. The difference is what’s being used under the hood. Let’s dig in a bit deeper.
Your chats are stored on your Exchange Online (EXO) Mailbox in an hidden folder (not on Exchange Server). The hidden folder “TeamChat” on your EXO mailbox is underneath of the “Conversation history”-folder. By default the chat copies are available for 14 days in the Deleted Items folder in Outlook.
Teams are Office 365-based, i.e. Office 365 Groups with SharePoint Online and Exchange Online are utilized.
For Teams Chats almost the same as for “Personal Chat” applies: Due to the fact that we therefore have Office 365 Groups, its mailbox hidden folder on EXO (not Exchange Server) are the storing the chats.
“Personal Chat” Data
If you exchange files it will be stored in your OneDrive For Business\Microsoft Teams Chat Files.
If you share files in a Teams Channel it will be stored in its associated SharePoint Online Document Library Folder of the Teams channel.
By default deleted files on SharePoint online are available for 93 day to be restored if no other configuration was set or quotas are applied and excceeded.
What backup and restore limitations do I have (after a “soft-delete”period)? (January 2019)
If a Team was deleted and you notice this or get requested to restore a Team after the “soft-delete” period of 30 days (default) the content is permanently deleted and cannot be restored, see link at the bottom “Restore a deleted Office 365 Group”.
You cannot restore a Team 1:1 after its 30 days “soft-delete” period.
Chat even if you have the data cannot be restored or at least I did not find a way to accomplish this easily. I was thinking about importing chats based on scripts in a newly re-created Team and it’s channels but it seemed to be a way to cumbersome to quickly test it with some lines of ps script code.
What backup options are there?
Option 1: Archive Teams
Archiving is not backup. However if you archived instead of deleting it, you can restore it easily via the Teams Admin Center or via the Teams Client, see link at the bottom “Archive or restore a team”.
Option 2: Office 365 Security and compliance center (eDiscovery cases, retention policies)
You can maintain copies of chats by using eDiscovery cases/litigation/inplace hold/retention policies. You can set this up to store the copies hidden in the mailbox. Either for a certain periode of time or indefinitely.
You can configure retention policies to retain files longer and to be stored in the preservation hold library. However, you might search and access the retained chat/files but not within Teams as it were before the “permanent” delete.
Option 3: Thirdparty solution/s?
Most of the thirdparty backup solutions are offering options to backup Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and OneDrive For Business data. Some providers also mention capabilities to restore Office 365 groups but it needs clarification if they have working restore procedures to recover a deleted Teams after the default “soft-delete” period of 30 days. If you consider to leverage a thirdparty solution you should take this into account for your Microsoft Teams evaluation and proof of concept phase.
Conclusion and summary
If a Team get’s (soft) deleted you can restore it within 30 days by default.
Beyond 30 days, there no default or extend restore procedure to get the deleted Team to 100 % recovered as it was before.
Thirdparty solutions might provide an exception to a certain extent and add value based to extensible restore capabilities which should be thoroughly examined during an evaluation or proof of concept phase.
In case you have certain security and compliance requirements you should evalute features provided by the Office 365 security and compliance center, Teams Lifecycle Management options based on the Graph API (https://3k09.wordpress.com/2018/11/20/whats-new-in-managing-microsoft-teams-11-2018/) as well as thirdparty backup solutions.
- Welcome to Microsoft Teams: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/MicrosoftTeams/teams-overview
- Location of data in Microsoft Teams: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/location-of-data-in-teams
- Where is my data?: http://o365datacentermap.azurewebsites.net/
- Archive or restore a team: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Archive-or-restore-a-team-dc161cfd-b328-440f-974b-5da5bd98b5a7
- Recreate deleted channel: https://microsoftteams.uservoice.com/forums/555103-public/suggestions/17009224-recreate-deleted-channel
- Re-using the same Channel Name: https://microsoftteams.uservoice.com/forums/555103-public/suggestions/16927219-re-using-the-same-channel-name
- Provide ability to fully recover deleted Teams: https://microsoftteams.uservoice.com/forums/555103-public/suggestions/18643102-provide-ability-to-fully-recover-deleted-teams
- In-Place Hold and Litigation Hold: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/exchange/security-and-compliance/in-place-and-litigation-holds
- eDiscovery cases in the Office 365 Security and Compliance Center: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/Office365/SecurityCompliance/ediscovery-cases
- Ovierview of retention policies: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/securitycompliance/retention-policies
- Restore a deleted Office 365 Group: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/admin/create-groups/restore-deleted-group
- Thirdparty Backup (just to list a few)
- Barracuda Office 365 Backup: https://barracudamsp.com/product-details/office-365-backup/
- Acronis Office 365 Backup: https://www.acronis.com/en-us/business/backup/office-365/
- Veeam Office 365 Backup: https://www.veeam.com/backup-microsoft-office-365.html
- CodeTwo Office 365 Backup: https://www.codetwo.de/backup-for-office-365/
- AvePoint Office 365 Backup: https://www.avepoint.com/products/cloud/backup/office-365-backup