Dynamics 365 Backup And Restore Strategies [A Complete Guide]

Jun 07, 2024 Aiswarya Madhu

For organizations using Dynamics 365, advanced data backup and recovery are essential. Dynamics 365 provides comprehensive solutions, but given the rising threats like ransomware, it's crucial to continually analyze and enhance your backup strategies.

According to a recent IDC study, 79% of organizations had to activate a disaster response due to ransomware attacks, with 83% facing data corruption and nearly 60% experiencing unrecoverable data. These statistics underscore the need for advanced support from service providers to ensure your data protection measures are up-to-date and effective.

To help you navigate this crucial aspect of data management, we've compiled a detailed guide to Microsoft Dynamics 365 backup and restore strategies.

This guide will assist you in planning your backup strategies in advance, ensuring that your organization is well-prepared to safeguard its data against potential threats, including how to backup Microsoft Dynamics 365.

What is Dynamics 365 Backup And Restore?

Dynamics 365 Backup solutions are designed to help companies keep their production and sandbox environments safe. These solutions offer full and incremental backups of entities, records, forms, and field attributes within Dynamics 365.

By preserving metadata, properties, and data structures, Dynamics CRM Backup solutions enable businesses to have flexible control over their data, allowing for granular recovery and restoration.

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Why is Purpose-Built Backup Important in D365?

In SaaS setups like Microsoft Dynamics 365, the provider handles the system's foundation and features, but customers are responsible for keeping their data safe. Although Microsoft offers basic data backup, organizations want extra protection from things like accidental data loss, corruption, cyberattacks, and other risks. This ensures stronger data security and resilience.

Here are the top reasons why tailored backup solutions are essential for Dynamics 365:

  • To Ensure Protection Against Data Loss: Think about a scenario where a user accidentally deletes important customer records, such as sales orders or service requests.

According to surveys and stats, 76% of organizations have experienced critical data loss, with 45% of those losing their data permanently. Common causes include human error, cyber-attacks (specifically ransomware and account takeover), hardware failures, and natural disasters.

Without a backup, this data could be lost permanently, leading to operational disruptions and potential revenue loss. Regular backups enable organizations to recover such data quickly, minimizing the impact of human errors.

To Adhere to Compliance and Legal Requirements: D365 holds a wealth of sensitive information, including customer details and financial records. To comply with regulations such as GDPR or HIPAA, businesses must ensure the security and integrity of this data.

Backup solutions help meet these requirements by providing a secure and accessible copy of the data, ensuring compliance in the event of audits or data access requests.

To Cut Back on Security Threats: Cyberattacks are a growing concern for businesses. 79% of companies have experienced at least one cloud data breach, emphasizing the need for robust backup solutions.

Ransomware, malware, or phishing attacks can compromise data integrity and lead to data loss. By regularly backing up data stored in D365, organizations can recover from such attacks, reducing the impact of security breaches on business operations.

The WannaCry Ransomware Crisis: A Lesson in Cybersecurity Vigilance

Imagine this scenario: it's a typical workday, and your computer screen is suddenly hijacked by a menacing message. Your system is locked, your files are encrypted, and a chilling ultimatum demands payment for your data's freedom. This is what happened to countless businesses worldwide when WannaCry struck in May 2017.

WannaCry, using cyber tools stolen from the NSA, spread rapidly, infecting over 300,000 computers in more than 150 countries. Victims ranged from small businesses to major corporations, all running outdated Windows software. The ransomware encrypted files and demanded $300 in Bitcoin, threatening data destruction if unpaid. Many organizations, including critical sectors like healthcare and transportation, were severely impacted.

Despite Microsoft releasing a patch in March 2017, many systems were outdated and vulnerable. The ransomware spread unchecked, locking down not just individual computers but entire networks.

Consider the impact: a hospital unable to access patient records, a transportation company paralyzed, and countless businesses frozen. For those without proper backups, the situation was dire. Paying the ransom didn't guarantee data recovery, risking permanent data loss.

This crisis underscores the importance of robust cybersecurity measures. Regular software updates, cautious email practices, and reliable data backups are critical defenses. The WannaCry attack is a stark reminder to prioritize cybersecurity strategies and safeguard digital assets against the growing threat of cyberattacks.

To Pare Down Retention Policy Gaps: While D365 offers some built-in data retention and recovery features, they may not cover all scenarios. For example, accidental mass deletions or system failures may not be adequately addressed by default retention policies.

Advanced & customized backup solutions provide additional flexibility and control over data retention, ensuring comprehensive protection against data loss.

To Ensure Robust Offsite Storage: Storing backups offsite is crucial for disaster recovery and business continuity planning. Research says only 15% of IT managers and 12% of IT users follow the “3-2-1” backup rule, which involves creating at least three copies of data, storing them on at least two different storage media, and keeping one copy off-site.

In case of instances such as a fire, flood, or cyberattack affecting the primary data center, offsite backups ensure critical data remains safe and accessible, allowing for quick restoration and minimal downtime.

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Steps to Backup Dynamics 365

Getting Started

First, log into the Power Platform Admin Center using System Admin or System Customizer credentials. This access level is required to navigate and perform backup and restore operations.

Creating a Manual Backup

Manual backups offer greater flexibility than system backups, allowing you to control when backups are created and retained for up to 30 days. Here’s how to create one:

  • Log into the Power Platform Admin Center: Ensure you have the necessary admin rights.
  • Select the Environment: Choose the Dynamics 365 environment you wish to back up.
  • Navigate to Backup and Restore: Go to the backup and restore section within the selected environment.
  • Create a New Backup:
    • Click on the "New Backup" option.
    • Provide a name and label for the backup, e.g., "Manual Backup May 2024."
    • Add any additional notes if necessary.
    • Click "Create" to initiate the backup process.
  • Monitor Backup Status: The status will show as "Creating" and change to "Available" once completed.

Restoring Data

Restoring from a backup allows you to revert to a specific point in time. You can restore data to the same environment or a different one. Here’s how to restore from a manual backup:

  • Select the Backup: In the Power Platform Admin Center, choose the backup you want to restore.
  • Initiate Restore: Click the "Restore" button next to the selected backup.
  • Choose the target environment. If restoring to a different environment, select it from the list.
  • Confirm and Execute:
    • Review the restore details.
    • Click "Restore" to begin the process. Note that this might take some time depending on the data size.
  • Post-Restoration Steps:
    • The environment will enter Administration mode to prevent changes during the restore.
    • Disable Administration mode once the restore is complete to resume normal operations.

Considerations

  • System vs. Manual Backups: System backups are automated and retained for 7 days, while manual backups can be retained for up to 30 days, offering more control.
  • Sandbox vs. Production: Restorations cannot be directly performed on Production environments. Convert your Production environment into a sandbox for such operations.
  • Backup Retention: Ensure you are aware of the retention periods and manage backups accordingly to prevent data loss.

Limitations of Native D365 Backup Options

While Dynamics 365 provides comprehensive backup solutions, there are some limitations to consider:

Linear Recovery Process

Microsoft's recovery process requires administrators to revert to a specific date and time in the past when data was last believed to be correct, potentially losing everything that has been added since then.

Imagine a scenario where an administrator needs to recover data from Dynamics 365 after a major data corruption incident. They must revert the system to a specific date and time when the data was last accurate. This means any data added or changes made since that point will be lost, which can lead to significant gaps and errors in the restored data, impacting business operations and decision-making.

Retention Limitations

The retention period for system and manual backups is fixed, which means once the retention period (28 days for production and 7 days for sandbox) expires, the backups are permanently deleted. This limitation requires organizations to plan their backup strategies carefully to ensure critical data is not lost.

Restoration Limitations

Restoring from a backup can be a time-consuming process, especially for large datasets. This downtime can impact business operations, making it essential to schedule restorations during off-peak hours.

Microsoft estimates that it takes about 30 minutes to restore every two gigabytes of data. Recovery can take longer during a prolonged outage in a region, especially if many geo-restore requests are initiated for disaster recovery.

The granularity of restoration is limited. Restoring a backup will revert the entire environment to the backup point, which can result in the loss of any changes made since that time. There is no native support for item-level restoration, meaning you cannot selectively restore individual records or configurations.

Unless a database is inaccessible or a user reports an issue, administrators may have no way of knowing that data has been deleted or corrupted.

During a restore, the system must be taken offline or converted to read-only to avoid the creation of more data that will be displaced when the database is reinstated.

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Why is there a Need for a Support Service Provider?

Tailored Backup Solutions

Consider the case of a financial services company experiencing a significant data corruption incident that disrupts their operations. Relying on the native recovery process means losing critical transaction data recorded after the last backup.

A tailored service provider can implement an advanced incremental backup system, allowing for more granular recovery that minimizes data loss and ensures business continuity.

Automated Backup and Recovery

Imagine the scenario of an e-commerce business that relies on Dynamics 365 for order processing and inventory management. The challenge here is the potential for human error and the need for backups to be conducted without disrupting daily operations.

While Dynamics 365 offers scheduled backups, the process still involves some manual oversight. A consultant can implement an automated backup and recovery solution, scheduling regular backups during off-peak hours to avoid interruptions.

This system ensures all data is consistently backed up and can be quickly restored in the event of data loss, minimizing downtime.

Extended Retention Periods

In the scenario of a healthcare organization that must retain patient data for several years, Dynamics 365's native backup solution might fall short.

Without extended retention periods, the organization risks non-compliance with regulatory requirements, which can lead to severe penalties and reputational damage.

A service provider can address this challenge by offering a backup solution with extended retention periods tailored to the organization's specific needs. By implementing a solution that allows for the secure storage of patient records and medical histories for the required duration, the service provider ensures compliance with healthcare regulations.

Proactive Monitoring and Automated Alerts

Administrators may not be aware of data deletions or corruption until significant damage has occurred, as detection relies on user reports or database accessibility issues.

Consider the case of a marketing firm when they accidentally delete critical campaign data. The issue goes unnoticed until a major campaign falters. In such instances, A D365 consultant can help you implement proactive monitoring and automated alerts to detect anomalies early, allowing for timely intervention and data recovery before substantial losses occur.

Granular Restore Capabilities

Native restore processes replace entire databases, making it difficult to recover specific data without complex and error-prone scripts.

If a retail company needs to recover specific customer records after an application error. Native recovery options require restoring the entire database, which is inefficient.

A service provider can offer granular restore capabilities, enabling precise recovery of affected data without impacting the rest of the database. This includes backup management strategies that create backup sets containing only the necessary data, point-in-time recovery options to restore data up to the moment before an error occurred.

Cost-Effective Storage Solutions

The cost of maintaining multiple data copies in Dynamics 365 can escalate, as organizations must pay for UAT, Sandbox, and other environments. Service providers can offer cost-effective storage solutions by utilizing compression and deduplication techniques to reduce storage space, implementing lifecycle management policies for backups, leveraging tiered storage based on data importance, utilizing cloud storage for scalability and flexibility, and optimizing backup frequencies.

Conclusion

Dynamics 365 provides native backup solutions, but the complexities and demands of modern business environments often necessitate additional support from tailored service providers.

To delve deeper into how tailored service providers can enhance your Dynamics 365 backup and restore strategy, get in touch with our dynamics 365 experts.

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