Does Microsoft 365 Archive actually meet your needs?

Microsoft is gradually releasing more information about their upcoming Microsoft 365 Archive, including a demo video showing the first functions and details regarding use. These details raise some questions regarding the product design, and should lead adopters to consider the question of if the Microsoft 365 Archive is truly right for their organization’s needs.

Microsoft announced some months ago that they were intending to work on a new archive solution native to the Microsoft 365 suite of programs and especially SharePoint. In an ideal world, this solution would cover most of the common use cases Microsoft users encounter.

However, the information released gradually exposes a few common use cases or flaws that may make the archive less suitable for a number of organizations and complicate its use and adoption compared to existing third-party archives.

Microsoft 365 Archive lacks flexibility

One of the things obvious from the video and other material is that the Microsoft 365 Archive has a specific data structure in mind when it comes to archiving your SharePoint sites. If your structure is not in alignment with this intended design, the archive may have trouble.

In particular, the Microsoft 365 Archive is fundamentally designed around archiving, restoring or deleting whole sites via the admin interface, allowing your admin team to recover them on a case-by-case basis as needs arise. This means in practice, their solution is structured more like a backup than a true archive. Rather than allowing for more granular restore and further working with individual files, you’re restricted to larger site-sized chunks.

This is especially a concern for organizations that don’t use a multisite system for their SharePoint, but rather a smaller number of larger sites to hold all their data organized into a more traditional branching folder structure. It means the archive is not able to easily capture the totality of your data, much less offload it gracefully.

Other questionable design choices limit utility

These issues are compounded by the added complications presented by having the Microsoft 365 Archive function through the SharePoint system; trying to retrieve a file is a relatively complex process that requires requesting an admin pull the entire site from the archive back into the live SharePoint environment.

Besides this obvious bottleneck to employee productivity, there is an open question regarding how safe it is to depend on an archive solution storing on the same system as your live environment; one of the many advantages that an archive presents is that if the live system is interrupted, files can still be accessed in real time. By putting all your eggs in one basket, you risk a far more impactful interruption in productivity for your organization.

Is this archive right for you?

For organizations, these considerations should be taken into account when deciding which solutions to select. It needs to also be noted that for most organizations selecting an archive is a long-term decision, and that these systems are rarely changed until circumstances force a change, so selecting one that will best meet your needs and continue to do so long-term is key.

You can therefore ask yourself – is your SharePoint structure prepared for the Microsoft archive? Are you willing to undertake the process of restructuring and reorganizing your data, or would you rather select a solution that is better able to flexibly accommodate your existing structures?

In general, the recommendation Microsoft has long included in their materials continues to be correct – it is recommended that organizations look to third-party options for their archiving and backup needs, to ensure compliance with regulations, continued productivity, security for critical data and more.

Archive smarter with contentACCESS

TECH-ARROW’s contentACCESS Archive and Backup solution represents the best in the world with regards to archiving solutions. We offer an optimal archive solution for both contentACCESS in the cloud or on-premises, meeting both common use-cases. Our platform stores all your documents, plus your calendar items, tasks, lists, contacts, image libraries and their attachments – lightening the live system and reducing storage costs while keeping your stored information readily accessible through our Outlook integrations, Mobile App, or web access portal.

contentACCESS is also a pioneer in the field of offloading via shortcutting, allowing you to lighten systems and achieve the benefits outlined above without losing any of the information being removed. Shortcutting in contentACCESS works via offloading certain data and file types (including document versions, which are one of the most common causes of data bloat in SharePoint) into the archive and replacing them in the live system with a small shortcut. In this way, organizations maintain immediate access to all this data (which can be easily accessed by employees via the shortcut or at need retrieved from the archive) without needing to devote expensive storage space to the full load.

Thanks to our new free Storage Optimizer application, it’s easier than ever to identify which files you can most impactfully offload and save the most money on. Storage Optimizer helps to identify where your company is using your data and where you can best leverage offloading to free up space and reduce any costs incurred on your organization. These recommendations can be further refined into a Minimal, Optimal and Aggressive offloading strategy, depending on how much of your data you want to retain in an unaltered format.

If you are interested in discussing how contentACCESS can best benefit you and your organization – contact us. Discover the advantages of archiving with us, how best to minimize expenditures, how to increase your business data safety – and more. Archive smarter with contentACCESS.


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by Matúš Koronthály