Backing up to the Cloud: Windows Azure Backup Preview – Part 2

by Shijaz Abdulla on 09.04.2013 at 22:05

This is a continuation  of my earlier post on Windows Azure Backup Preview.

In the previous post, we discussed how you can generate a self-signed certificate using makecert.exe on the server from which you intend to backup. If you want to backup from multiple servers, you need to export the certificate you generated on the first server along with the private key and import it into the Personal store of the other computers that you intend to backup from. Windows Azure identifies which online backup vault to upload to using this certificate. You can use the same certificate on computers in different networks, domains or workgroups.

  1. Upload the certificate by clicking Manage Certificateon the Windows Azure Management portal.image
  2. Download and install the backup agent on your server. Currently, the agent supports Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 Essentials and System Center 2012 SP1 Data Protection Manager. You will find the download link on the right pane.

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  3. The Windows Azure Management portal gives you download links to agents for Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 Essentials and System Center Data Protection Manager. However, Scott Guthrie’s blog post mentions support for Windows Server 2008 R2, while a Microsoft employee suggests that WS2008R2 support might be added in coming months.

    I have personally installed the Windows Azure backup agent on Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and it worked flawlessly (although it will need installation of more prerequisites, like Windows Management Framework updates, PowerShell, etc)

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  4. Installation is fairly straightforward. Having PowerShell installed is a prerequisite. The Windows Azure backup agent is updated via Windows Update.

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  5. Open Windows Azure Backup using the icon placed on the desktop. On the right pane of the Windows Azure Backup console, click Register Server.
  6. Configure the proxy if needed.

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  7. On the next screen browse for and select the self-signed certificate you created in Part 1of this post.

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    Click the Register button. The wizard will then proceed to fetch the backup vaults from Windows Azure.

  8. Select the Backup Vault you created.image
  9. On the next screen, enter a passphrase to encrypt your backup with. This ensures confidentiality of the data you backup to Azure. Make sure you save the passphrase in a safe location.

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  10. Click Register and you are now ready to configure backups for this server.

  Scheduling a backup

  1. Click on Schedule Backup in the right pane of the MMC console.

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  2. Select the items you need to backup.

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  3. You can use Exclusion Settings to exclude certain file types from being backed up. Click Next.

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  4. Set your backup frequency/schedule on the next screen. You can choose the days the backup should run and at what time. You can execute up to 3 scheduled backups per day.

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  5. Click Change Propertiesif you wish to set network throttling settings, to optimize bandwidth usage during working hours.

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    Click OK and Next.

  6. On the next screen, choose your retention settings.

    image The more older backups you retain, the more storage you will consume on your Azure subscription.

  7. Click Next, review your configuration and click Finish to create the job.

The backup will start running according to the schedule.

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On the Windows Azure Management Portal, you can see the servers you are backing up, the storage consumed and more information about your protected items.

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Here’s a screenshot of Windows Azure backup agent running on Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1

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If you want to backup beyond just files, and you want to use Windows Azure Backup with applications like SQL Server, Exchange, SharePoint, etc you need System Center 2012 SP1 Data Protection Manager. I will write a post on how to make this work as time permits.

See also