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Getting started with Azure Backup

Posted on 11 september, 2014

Program Manager, Cloud + Enterprise
Azure Backup is a great tool that empowers customers to backup data to Azure. Please refer to this article for a quick introduction to Azure Backup. In this post, we will cover how quick and easy it is to get started with Azure Backup. All that's needed is an Azure subscription. The setup is a breeze and outlined below in three easy steps. Azure Portal: 1. Create a backup vault by signing into the Azure Portal 2. Download agent and vault credentials from backup vault page On Server: 3. Install Recovery Services agent and register the server   1. Create a Backup Vault A Backup Vault is a container to which protected servers are associated with. Users can create the backup vault on the portal by specifying a friendly name and the geographical area closer to the production servers. The below pictures provide a step by step view of creating the vault. Login to the portal and select Recovery Services from the gallery of services on the left hand side: Azure Backup Recovery Services - Backup Vaults page Give the vault a recognizable name and select the region closest to the production servers. Make sure that the right subscription is selected, in case there are multiple subscriptions. Azure Backup Recovery Services - Create vaults Tip: Choosing a region that is closer to the production servers ensures faster data transfer. If it is the reliability factor that forces the user to choose a distant data center, those concerns can be put to rest. Azure Backup automatically geo-replicates 3 copies of the backup data.   2. Download Agent and Vault Credentials
Pre-Requisite: Vaults are created.
  Select the vault created by going to the Quick Start page. The Quick Start page provides instructions for downloading the vault credentials and agent: Azure Backup Service- Backup vault Quick start   The vault credentials file will act as the authentication file that is used to authorize the production server during the registration process.  For security reasons, the key in the file expires after 48 hours. Since the vault credentials contain a key, it is strongly recommended to safeguard the downloaded file. Agent downloads are offered in two versions: One for Windows Server Essentials SKUs and the other for all other Windows Server SKUs and System Center Data Protection Manager. Refer to the following post for more details on using Azure Backup with System Center Data Protection Manager.   3. Install the Agent and Register the Server
Pre-Requisite: Agent and Vault Credentials downloaded from the portal.
The below pictures outline the steps for installing the agent on the production server and then registering it with the backup vault: Azure Backup agent installation - Folder and scratch page settings Tip: Ensure that there is at least 10% of the Cache/Scratch space available for optimal performance of the Azure Backup. Enter appropriate Proxy settings: Azure Backup agent installation - Proxy settings Tip: In some cases, Internet connectivity is available through Internet Explorer but the registration of the Recovery Services agent may keep failing.  This is especially true in case of authenticated proxy servers configured for the network. Making sure that the right proxy settings are configured will make it seamless for the backup and recovery operations. Critical updates are available through Microsoft Updates and is strongly recommended that this be opted-in. Note that, if you are already opted in, this step is automatically skipped: Azure Backup agent installation - Opt in for Microsoft Updates   Installer wizard will scan the server for the required software (Windows PowerShell and .Net Framework 4.5) for the Recovery Services agent to work. The .NET framework will have to be installed separately by the user before continuing with the Recovery Services agent installation. After a successful completion of the installation, the server will have to be registered to the backup vault. Click on "Proceed to Registration" to start the registration process: Azure Backup agent installation - Proceed to Registration Browse and select the vault credentials file associated to a vault that is downloaded from the portal. The summary of the vault will be displayed for review before proceeding to register the server. Azure Backup agent registration - Backup vault identification   Azure Backup always encrypts data at source with a Passphrase. Users can specify a Passphrase of choice or can generate one using  "Generate Passphrase". Passphrase is an alpha-numeric string that is used to encrypt the data. Note that Azure Backup never maintains the passphrase and if the passphrase is lost by the user, the data can never be restored or recovered. Hence it is strongly recommended that the user saves the key to an external location. Azure Backup agent registration - Encryption settings   Once the passphrase is entered, the registration of the production servers is initiated. It will take a few seconds for the agent to register the production server to the backup vault. As soon as the registration with the vault is completed, the following summary page will show. Azure Backup agent - Server registration successful    This completes setting up the agent on the production server to start the back up. Launch the Azure Backup snap-in from the shortcut on the desktop. Azure Backup - MMC Snap-in   Configure the backup policy by selecting items to be backed up and the frequency to back it up. Then, schedule. Azure Backup - MMC Snap-in - Schedule Backup   Applicability The above steps of getting started are available for the Recovery Service agent downloaded from September, 2014. If older agents are used, please refer to using certificates as detailed here. Feedback User Forum is the channel to solicit feedback and asks from customers. Windows Azure Backup forums is also a great place to start for any support queries.