Office 365 Advanced eDiscovery goes beyond search basics

Advanced eDiscovery in Microsoft 365 — or Office 365, depending on your subscription — is a powerful tool that can index data sets and make it easily searchable.

This tool also supports the import and analysis of external data. This is a useful feature for legal and human resources positions or any other job in which you need to search through data for keywords and use the AI features of the platform to weed out undesirable information. Before we look at Office 365 Advanced eDiscovery, let’s start with some basics.

The standard eDiscovery feature is available to any Business or Enterprise licensed customer of the Microsoft 365 or Office 365 suite. It provides several functions, including:

Once you configure the data set, the data will be indexed for review. More searches, known as queries, can be run and the results exported for use outside of eDiscovery.

What is Office 365 Advanced eDiscovery?

Office 365 Advanced eDiscovery is more of an end-to-end product for eDiscovery requirements. Advanced eDiscovery follows the Electronic Discovery Reference Model framework, which provides more granularity to the settings you can control over a case.

Advanced eDiscovery requires licensing above the common Microsoft/Office 365 E3 license such as the E5 compliance add-on, the eDiscovery and Audit add-on or just a switch to the Microsoft/Office 365 E5 tier.

Some of the Advanced eDiscovery highlights include:

  • search and analytics functionality thread emails, rather than dealing with each email separately;
  • optical character recognition to convert images to text-searchable documents;
  • built-in ability to analyze, query, review, tag and export content as a group, rather than individual files;
  • better visibility of long-running tasks to check progress;
  • predictive coding allows you to train the system to determine which data is relevant; and
  • detecting files that are the same or almost the same to avoid a review of the same content.

Organizations can benefit from the import feature

Another key feature for Advanced eDiscovery is the ability to import non-Microsoft 365 content.

To start, create a review set which is only available in Advanced eDiscovery. A review set is a defined group of data sets, which can be used with the group functionality listed above.

You can add external data to a review set with the Manage review set option. Clicking the View uploads link in the Non-Office 365 data section takes you to a page with an Upload files button, which starts a wizard after it is clicked.

The wizard asks you to prepare the files you want to upload. You’ll need to create a top-level folder with a subfolder for each custodian you have data for in User Principal Name UPN format for the account, such as [email protected] Upload the data in those user-named folders.

Click on this link to see the file types you can import into Advanced eDiscovery. Microsoft supports several archive and container formats such as PST mailbox files that you can upload in a batch and run searches against.

To upload the files, you will need to install the AzCopy utility. When you have all the files ready, input the path in the wizard to the user folders, which will generate a command to paste into a command prompt that will trigger the upload using AzCopy. The utility will show statistics, such as the progress, time elapsed and the upload speed during the transfer process.

Once finished, you can go back to the webpage and click the Next: Process files button. Do not click this button until the upload completes or you’ll start a one-time processing of the incomplete data that you can’t cancel or run again.

The time it takes to process depends on the amount of data uploaded. When the transfer completes, the Manage review sets page will show a summary report of the data, allow you to train the system for relevant information, and manage tags to help identify and discover data based on your search criteria.

You need to apply the license to the account(s) you are searching; administrators and staff reviewing the data do not need this extra license, so for occasional ad-hoc Advanced eDiscovery requirements, your organization might only need a few licenses that you can move as required — assuming you don’t want the other benefits that come with each license.

Advanced eDiscovery takes some time to understand from both the administrator’s point of view and from the perspective of the user with access to a case. But it’s a powerful — and relatively inexpensive — tool for an organization that might have access as part of the E5 license. It’s still very cost-effective if you only need a few add-on licenses compared to any other eDiscovery product on the market.

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It’s Time to Recognize the Real Value of System Admins

If the coronavirus pandemic has taught the business world anything, it’s that the humble system admin should no longer be undervalued. The impact on businesses worldwide and the overnight transition of millions into remote working situations has shed light on the real value of system admins.

The Unsung Heroes of the Modern Workplace

Sysadmins are the pillars of everyday operations in any modern business. They are the silent agents that ensure everyone is actually able to carry out their work. If everything is running smoothly, it’s because they are doing their job. The value of their work often goes unnoticed because ironically that’s their goal – for technical issues to be fixed unnoticed and everyone else carry on unaffected. But apart from keeping the waters calm, they are also ready to spring into action and save your ass to reset that password you forgot for the 17th time that week (not speaking from personal experience or anything…sorry Phil)

Pandemic Response

As COVID-19 stunned the world and our front-line workers and healthcare rushed to save lives, in the business world, it was system admins who we turned to for help. Transitioning literally millions of employees into remote working is no mean feat but the system admins rose to the challenge and saved businesses on their knees. Furthermore, with this enforced shift to remote working, cyberattacks have been on the rise to try and exploit any new vulnerabilities exposed in the transition but our trusty system admins were there again to protect us.

2020 has been an extremely tough year for many people, but without system admins, it could have been far worse. So, in celebration of SysAdmin Day on 31 July, we decided to give back to our sysadmin heroes in recognition of their hard work.

Rewarding System Admins on SysAdmin Day

Sysadmin thank you gift

If you are an Office 365, Hyper-V, or VMware user, celebrate with us. All you have to do is sign up for a 30-day free trial of either Altaro VM Backup or Altaro Office 365 Backup – it’s your choice! – and you’ll get a guaranteed $/€20 Amazon voucher plus the chance to win one of our grand prizes including SONY WH-1000XM3 Wireless Noise-cancelling headphones, Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6 Router, DJI Osmo Pocket, and more!

SysAdmins claim your gift now!

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What are Microsoft Teams backup and recovery best practices?

Over the last several months, Microsoft Teams has seen a dramatic increase in usage. Even last year, Teams was gaining momentum, but with so many people now working remotely as a result of the pandemic, Teams has become an even more important business application.

While it’s easy to think of Teams as simply a video and voice conferencing application, it can actually be a data-rich environment. Teams data can include everything from chat messages to images, files, recordings, voicemail messages and contacts. Like any other data-rich application, it is important to back up Teams on a regular basis. Backups obviously help to protect against data loss, but many organizations also have compliance mandates pertaining to Teams backup.

Teams backup considerations

The most important element to understand about protecting your Teams data is that doing so requires a considerable amount of planning, and it also requires an understanding of where Microsoft actually stores Teams data.

There are a couple of reasons why Teams backup tends to be a somewhat complex process. First, Teams is a part of Microsoft 365 (formerly, Office 365). While there are countless Office 365 backup products available on the market, most only include native support for Exchange, SharePoint and OneDrive. There are numerous Microsoft 365 applications that are not directly supported by most backup products, including Planner, Yammer and Teams.

Teams backup is also tricky because its data is scattered widely across the Microsoft 365 cloud. Teams stores chat data, conversation history and calendar data in Exchange. It stores chat files in OneDrive and it stores channel files and wikis in SharePoint. This means that the only way to back up all of your Teams data is to back up Exchange, SharePoint and OneDrive.

Chart comparing Teams vs. Zoom

Any backup application that supports Exchange, SharePoint and OneDrive in the Microsoft 365 cloud should, theoretically, be able to protect your Teams data.

Teams recovery considerations

Unfortunately, restoring Teams data tends to be far more problematic than backing it up.

Backups obviously help to protect against data loss, but many organizations also have compliance mandates pertaining to Teams backup.

Even though backup applications may make it possible to restore a Teams-related data element such as a file or a wiki, simply restoring the data does not usually cause it to be made available within Teams as it was before the data was deleted. There are usually supplementary steps that you must perform in order to get the restored data back into Teams. For instance, you may need to create a new wiki and then paste the recovered data into it.

Given the constraints on recovering Teams data, there are two key best practices. First, use Microsoft’s built-in retention policies whenever you can. These retention policies make it possible to recover data without restoring a backup. In some cases, recovering a deleted item in this way may involve less work than restoring the deleted item from backup.

Second, make sure to keep your backup application up to date. Microsoft recently released a Teams backup API. This API is new enough that most of the backup vendors have not yet incorporated it into their products. Even so, it will only be a matter of time before backup applications begin to provide better support for Teams.

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Collections is now available on the Microsoft Edge mobile app – Microsoft Edge Blog

We’re excited to announce that Collections is now available in the Microsoft Edge mobile browser on your iOS and Android devices! We have been listening to your feedback on the desktop experience and hear that you want to access your collections on-the-go.
Collections helps you easily collect and organize content that you find across the web. But of course you’re not always in front of your laptop and a lot of research happens while you’re out and about! Collections on mobile makes it easy to add more content and start new collections directly from your phone. We’ve specifically designed Collections on mobile so that you can easily jump between webpages and compare items in your collections. A collapsible Collections drawer allows you to view webpages alongside your collections for easier multi-tasking. Expand the drawer to see more of your collection or collapse it so you can focus on the webpage.
Install Microsoft Edge from the Google Play or Apple App store today to get started! If you already have the Microsoft Edge mobile app, make sure you have the latest updates (Android—version 45.06.2.5042 or higher, iOS—version 45.6.2 or higher).

Get started by opening Collections from within the “…” browser menu at the bottom of the screen. Once synced, you will see all collections that you’ve previously created on your PC. Just as you would expect on desktop, clicking on any card will take you back to the website.

When you open Collections on your mobile device, tap the + button to create a new collection and give it a title.

The Collections pane on mobile acts like a collapsible drawer to provide multiple views of your collection, making it easy to browse and collect on a small screen. You can access this drawer by opening up one of your collections.
The expanded view allows you to look through your collection in full screen and see large cards for each item.
Sliding the drawer down into peek view allows you to quickly compare items by moving back and forth between them, all while still being able to browse webpages.
If you want to view the webpage even larger, put the drawer into collapsed view to have full browsing functionality with quick access to open it back up.

As you browse, you can start to add content related to your collection in two different ways:
From the Collections drawer: When you have the Collections drawer open, you can easily add a webpage to your collection by tapping the + button at the top right of the drawer.

From the “…” browser menu: If you don’t have the Collections drawer open, you can add the webpage to a specific collection by tapping into the “…” browser menu in the bottom toolbar and selecting “Add to collection.” Here you can choose which of your collections to add the content to.

You are also able to organize, edit and delete collections from your phone. Enter the edit state to rearrange items within your collections, delete content, or rename your collection:
On iOS, tap “edit” at the bottom right of the screen.
On Android, tap the “…” button associated with any item or any collection.

The Microsoft Edge Collections team put together a fun video about how to use Collections across your devices, including our new mobile experience.
For more help and troubleshooting, please refer to the Microsoft Edge Mobile FAQ page.

We’re excited to hear what you think about the Collections on mobile experience! Help us improve the product and send us feedback using the “send feedback” button in the bottom “…” menu.
—Amy DeVries, Program Manager, Microsoft Edge—William Devereux, Senior Program Manager, Microsoft Edge

Latest Sea of Thieves update, Ashen Winds, now available | Windows Experience Blog

Ashen Winds, the latest Sea of Thieves monthly update, is here for free for all players across Windows 10, Xbox One, Xbox Game Pass and Steam.
Powerful Ashen Lords arrive on the Sea of Thieves in raging flames and blinding ash clouds – and now their skulls can be taken and wielded as fiery weapons.
Accessibility improvements such as single-stick control, alongside new Pirate Emporium pets and discounts, round out this monthly offering.
Get all the details on Xbox Wire.

Announcing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 20180 | Windows Experience Blog

Hello Windows Insiders, today we’re releasing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 20180 to Windows Insiders in the Dev Channel.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Insider Preview Builds 20161 and below will expire on July 31st. To avoid hitting this expiration, please update to Insider Preview Builds 20170 or newer.

We are turning on much of the new features mentioned on July 1st in Build 20161 including theme-aware tiles on Start. The new pinned sites capability mentioned with last week’s flight of Build 20175 is still only available to a subset of Insiders.

The Windows SDK is now flighting continuously with the Dev Channel. Whenever a new OS build is flighted to the Dev Channel, the corresponding SDK will also be flighted. You can always install the latest Insider SDK from aka.ms/InsiderSDK. SDK flights will be archived in Flight Hub along with OS flights.

Based on feedback, we’re changing the tablet posture logic for 2-in-1 devices to now only apply when using a single screen.
Based on feedback we’re updating the new folder icon in the Start menu’s All app’s list to be a little smaller so it better aligns with the size of the other icons.
We’ve updated the search box in the Default Apps settings pages to improve performance.

We fixed an issue in the last flight where Magnifier wasn’t following the curser in the previous build when the zoom was higher than 100%.
We fixed an issue where Task Manager wasn’t showing the Publisher name for UWP apps.
We fixed an issue when using the Pinyin IME where tapping “/” on the keyboard wouldn’t produce the right character when using full width mode.
We fixed a couple issues that could result in crashes when using Alt + Tab to switch to browser tabs.

We’re working on a fix for an issue where some Microsoft Store games protected with Easy Anti-Cheat may fail to launch.
We’re looking into reports of the update process hanging for extended periods of time when attempting to install a new build.
We’re working on a fix for an issue where the min/max/close buttons are stuck in their original positions after resizing a UWP app. If you move the app window the position should update.
We’re investigating reports that the new taskbar experience described above isn’t working for some pinned sites.
We’re working on a fix for an issue where sometimes the “close all windows” action in the taskbar doesn’t close not all of the open tabs
We’re working on a fix to enable live preview for pinned site tabs.
We’re working on enabling the new taskbar experience for existing pinned sites. In the meantime, you can unpin the site from the taskbar, remove it from the edge://apps page, and then re-pin the site.
We’re working on a fix for an issue where pinned sites don’t show all open tabs for a domain. In the meantime, you can fix this by pinning the site’s homepage rather than a specific page (e.g. pin microsoft.com rather than microsoft.com/windows).
We’re working on a fix for an issue where Alt + Tabbing to a browser tab sometimes moves the previously active browser tab to the front of the Alt + Tab list as well.
Opening a WSL 1 distribution can result in the error: ‘The I/O operation has been aborted because of either a thread exit or an application request’. Please check out this Github issue for the latest updates.

Our past webcasts are now available on the Windows Insider YouTube. We also have some new videos about making the most of the program, and we’ll continue to use this channel for webcasts and how-to content. Subscribe now to see what’s next and keep up with our latest videos!

You can check out our Windows Insider Program documentation here, including a list of all the new features and updates released in builds so far. Not seeing any of the features in this build? Check your Windows Insider Settings to make sure you’re in the Dev Channel. Submit feedback here to let us know if things weren’t working the way you expected.
If you want a complete look at what build is in which Insider ring, head over to Flight Hub. Please note, there will be a slight delay between when a build is flighted and when Flight Hub is updated.
Thanks,BLB

New Developer Landing Page and Issues Repo – Windows Developer Blog

We are excited to announce two new online resources for developers using Windows:
A new docs landing-page for developers building and deploying apps and systems running on non-Microsoft operating systems like Linux and Android
A new GitHub issues repo for filing developer-oriented issues with Windows
Let’s dig into these two announcements:

Are you a developer using Windows, but working with cross-platform web, Node, React, Java, Kotlin, Python, Xamarin, Android Studio, etc.? And do you primarily deploy your sites, services, and systems to Linux-based cloud environments or Android devices?

If so, we’re very excited to announce that we’ve just published a new landing-page to help you get your development environment setup and optimize your workflow when running Windows.
We want you, and every developer running on Windows, to have an enjoyable and productive experience, regardless of your preferred developer tools, languages, runtimes or target platforms.
This new landing page contains guidance and resources to help you learn how Windows can work for you, and how you can use all of your most loved open-source tools, alongside Microsoft apps and tools like Microsoft Teams, Outlook, Word, Visual Studio, VSCode, etc.
If you’re new to using or developing on Windows, we have your back. We know that switching to an unfamiliar platform/environment can impact your productivity until you get comfortable, so this new landing-page will also contain guidance to help you map your Linux / Mac behaviors (e.g. keyboard shortcuts) to Windows.
We have also shared some of the latest relevant advancements and improvements in Windows including features like Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), Windows Terminal, Windows Package Manager (WinGet), and PowerToys. Combining these great new tools and many other Windows 10 features with your favorite developer tools, languages, runtimes, and platforms will help you get more done, more easily and quickly than ever before. Be sure to head over to the new landing page to learn more.
We’re “starting simple” with this first version of the landing page, but we’re keen to adapt the page and its contents based on your feedback, so please be sure to let us know what you’d like to see added/changed on the page and linked resources:
Use the links at the bottom of the page to submit comments, or even contribute content edits via GitHub PRs, and we’ll do our best to keep the page’s content fresh, relevant, and useful.

Have you, as a developer, ever uncovered issues when using or running your code on Windows, and wished that you could share the issue with the Windows engineering team?
Now you can!

Welcome to the new ”WinDev” GitHub repo!
We created this repo to enable developers who use Windows to submit & discuss issues directly to Windows engineering teams who don’t already have a repo of their own, whether the issues you uncover are to do with using Windows itself, or running your code on Windows!
Important caveat: This is a new communications channel for our team and so we are starting small by only accepting developer-related performance issues at this time. As we learn more about how to best handle these issues, we aim to broaden the scope of this repo to include additional scenarios.
Please review the repo’s ReadMe page regularly, as we will be updating the page with the latest news, updates, and requests for specific feedback.

Now available: Grounded, a new survival adventure game | Windows Experience Blog

Grounded, the new survival adventure game from Obsidian Entertainment, is now available through Steam Early Access and Xbox Game Preview with Xbox Game Pass, so you can also play on PC.
In this game, players wake up in a suburban backyard after being mysteriously shrunken to the size of an ant. Guided by a robot named BURG.L, players must explore, build and survive while confronting new dangers and perils.
Find more details at Xbox Wire.

6 Group Policy best practices for Windows 10 admins

When desktop admins don’t use Group Policy effectively, it can be a major IT headache.

Group policies are the primary mechanism for enforcing configuration on various Windows settings. Group policies play an important role in Windows management, so it is critically important to make sure that you as an admin use them effectively and that you construct and maintain policies in a way that is easy to manage.

When it comes to Windows 10 desktops, you should first determine what you hope to accomplish through the use of group policies. In most cases, group policies are configured with the goal of maintaining the operating system’s health and security.

The most common use for Group Policy settings is to enforce password requirements, but there are many other potential uses. For instance, you can use group policy settings to block user access to some of the operating system’s more sensitive areas, such as the Control Panel or the Command Prompt. You can also use group policies to prevent users from being able to use removable media, or to prevent users from running executable code from removable media. These are just a few potential uses; there are thousands of group policy settings that can establish granular control over the way that Windows 10 behaves.

There are a variety of best practices for using Group Policy settings with Windows 10 desktops.

1.     Use local security policies

You should use local security policies in conjunction with Active Directory-level security policies that are applied at the site, organizational unit (OU) or domain level. These local policies will help to keep Windows 10 machines secure if Windows is unable to log into a domain.

2.     Deploy desktops with a Windows 10 deployment image

Another Group Policy best practice is to create a Windows 10 deployment image and then use that image to deploy all future Windows 10 desktops. This will help to ensure that desktops are configured in a consistent manner, including the local security policy.

Configuration changes will inevitably occur over time, however. As such, you may want to invest in a third-party tool that can periodically scan for configuration drift. The Microsoft Security and Compliance Toolkit includes a tool called the Microsoft Policy Analyzer. You can use this tool to compare a desktop’s local security policy against a baseline group policy. However, this is a manual process and the tool is not designed to examine desktops in bulk. Third-party tools are better suited for anything beyond the occasional one-off policy evaluation.

3.     Create function-oriented group policies

Rather than creating a large monolithic group policy that controls all the operating system’s settings, consider creating a series of smaller policies that focus on certain things. For example, you might create a group policy that controls browser settings and another group policy that controls AppLocker. Separating group policies by function slightly increases the amount of time that it takes users to log in, but it can greatly simplify the troubleshooting process.

Separating group policies by function slightly increases the amount of time that it takes users to log in, but it can greatly simplify the troubleshooting process.

4.     Don’t block policy inheritance or enforcement

You should never block policy inheritance or policy enforcement; doing so tends to make troubleshooting problems far more difficult.

5.     Don’t deploy contradictory settings

It’s a common mistake to create contradictory settings at various levels of the Group Policy hierarchy. An administrator might, for instance, create domain level-policy that requires 8-character passwords, but then create an OU level-policy that requires 12-character passwords. When contradictions occur, Windows uses the group policy’s level within the hierarchy to resolve the conflict. The Group Policy Management Console includes an interface that you can use to figure out where a particular policy setting was applied, but your life will be a lot easier if you can simply avoid creating contradictory settings.

6.     Have a formalized change management plan

Finally, it’s important to have a formalized change management plan for group policy settings. Otherwise, administrators may simply make changes as a matter of convenience, and those changes can have unforeseen consequences. Microsoft provides a tool called Advanced Group Policy Management that can help with Group Policy change control.

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