Friday, 30 September 2016

Azure Recovery Services – Part 1, File and Folder Backup

This is part on of a series of posts on the new Azure Recovery Services in Azure Resource Manager 

There are 4 distinct offerings as part of Azure Recovery Services.  
  • File and Folder Backup – This Post 
  • Azure Backup Server – Part 2 (Coming Soon)
  • Site Recovery – Part 3 (Coming Soon) 
  • Azure VM Backup – Part 4 (Coming Soon)

This post will cover the basic file and folder backup offering for Windows machines. Parts 2 and 3 will cover more advanced backup scenarios and site fail over. 

The file and folder backup agent is quite limited in scope and does not protect system state or any live application data such as SQL Server, Hyper-V, SharePoint or Exchange. This offering is simply to backup a few files on a system in much the same way as DropBox or OneDrive folder sync does. 

It seems that this product is suited to desktops and laptops that house user data and need the data backed up on a daily basis. 

The backup agent requires internet access but this can be configured via a proxy server. 



Setup of the Agent - If you aren't interested in setup, skip to the bottom for costs and thoughts

Start by creating a new Recovery Services vault in the Azure Portal 



Once created, open the resource and browse through to "Getting Started," > "Backup." 
Select Files and Folders and click OK. Note if you select any other option it will suggest downloading Azure Backup Server which is a cut down version of System Center Data Protection Manager. 





The wizard now shows to download the Recovery Services Agent and Vault Credentials to configure the backup. 

Download both the relevant client and credential file and complete the installation wizard on your machine. The installation is a simple 5 screen wizard which automatically installs the prerequisites. 






Once installed the registration wizard begins and allows you to select the downloaded credential file 




On the encryption page, select a folder to save your encryption phrase, generate a new phrase or enter one. 



Backup and Restore 

Once installed you are presented with the familiar Windows Server Backup screen with a few additions: 





When creating a backup you can only select files or folders 





The backup schedule allows between 3 backups per day and 1 every 4 weeks. 
The retention policy is pretty thorough 




It’s possible to send an initial seed backup by post 




A warning is shown that the volume size limit for backups is 54400 GB which seems way larger than would be expected for this type of backup client. 

Once the backup is created there are various options in the right pane 




I hit backup now to begin my initial backup 


Backup Timings 

My base server 2012 R2 image is using 18.5 GB on disk 
Initial backup took 38 Minutes to complete the initial seed over a 100 Mbps connection.  
This works out at around 3.5 MB/sec (28 Mbps) or 12.6 GB/Hr. backup speed. 



I copied over a 1 GB ISO file and ran a second backup.  



And just a regular backup with no changes on the server 



Backup Log location can be found in the portalUnfortunately when I checked on the server the log was not in the file system. 




Restores 

Restores can be done by launching the wizard from the right hand pane. You can choose to recover from this server or another server using a vault credential file. 
You can browse or search for files. Browsing allows you to select the date and file for recovery. Recovery supports restoring ACLs of original files and has overwrite options. 



Recovery of a 1 GB ISO file took just 3 mins on a 100 Mbps connection. The restore actually saturated the 100 Mbps connection. 





Costs 


Per Month Prices 

Total Backup Size 
Azure Backup (LRS) 
OneDrive Business 
DropBox Business 
25 GB 
£3.0545 + £0.3675 
£3.10 (1 TB files) 
£6.58 (up to 1,000 GB) 
75 GB 
£6.109 + £1.1025 
£3.10 (1 TB files) 
£6.58 (up to 1,000 GB) 
250 GB 
£6.109 + £3.675 
£3.10 (1 TB files) 
£6.58 (up to 1,000 GB) 
550 GB 
£12.218 + £8.085 
£3.10 (1 TB files) 
£6.58 (up to 1,000 GB) 
2048 GB 
£24.436 + £30.1056 
Not Available 
£9.17 ("unlimited" storage) 





Thoughts and Conclusion 
Pros 
  • Simple to configure 
  • No VPN required – works over the internet 
  • Provides customisable schedules and retention for compliance 
  • Appears to always do incremental backups after the initial seed 
  • Storage transaction costs are not charged, you pay a base cost for the machine and then per GB. 
  • LRS and GRS storage is available so backups can be kept in 1 or 2 datacenters 
  • True backup and not file sync – Human error can lead to file deletion on normal file sync services. Crypto lockers could possibly affect files on file sync services if versioning is not set up correctly. 
Cons 
  • Unable to backup system state 
  • No central management 
  • Not cheap compared to Microsoft's own OneDrive offering 

Final Thought – Unless you need the customisable retention for compliance or you need to backup your data to multiple locations. The simplicity and cost of the OneDrive and DropBox standard offerings seem like the obvious choice for simple file and folder backups. You should be careful to read these services options for deleted file retention and file versioning to protect against deletion, crypto-lockers or corruption. 


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