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How to backup and restore a Windows system disk in a Windows Azure Virtual Machine

Posted on 31 juli, 2013

Written by: Yorihito Tada

Reviewed by: Juergen Thomas, Nicholas Dritsas, James Podgorski, Gaurav Gupta,Sanjay Mishra, and Dan Reger from the AzureCAT team. 

Follow us at @winazurecat

Backup and Restore is critical to operate real world systems. For Windows Server in a Windows Azure Virtual Machine environment, you can choose a number of different tools or use a combination of these tools depending on your needs. Here’s a quick compare and contrast of these tools to help you determine the best solution for you. 

Windows Server Backup (WSB)

Windows Server Backup can be used for online backup from inside a virtual machine. It can also backup system state as well as files and folders.

Note that when you use Windows Server Backup, backup files will be located inside of a virtual machine. You may need to move those backup files to an external location using other solutions like Windows Azure Backup.

Windows Azure Backup (WAB)

Windows Azure Backup is a solution to backup local files to the cloud. You can use this from Windows Azure VMs as well.  This tool enhances other Microsoft backup tools with cloud backup capabilities.  It can be used in several ways – in conjunction with Windows Server Backup, with System Center 2012 Data Protection Manager, etc.

Click here for a tutorial on how to setup backup using “Windows Azure Backup”.

 Also, if you’re interested click on pricing details for Windows Azure Backup.

System Center 2012

Windows Azure Backup can also integrate with System Center 2012 Data Protection Manager to protect onsite server data.  In this case, the Windows Azure Backup agent software is installed on the DPM server.  DPM can then protect servers in their environment as it ordinarily would, but now has the added ability of storing backups in the cloud storage.

Windows Azure Copy Blob API and Storage Client Library API (Copy Blob)

The Copy Blob (REST APIs) for the Windows Azure Storage services offer developers a means to access the Blob, Queue, and Table services in Windows Azure or in the development environment. The Copy Blob operation copies a blob to a destination.

The Windows Azure Storage Client Library for .NET (version 2.0) includes the Storage Client Library. You can use this library to access REST APIs from .NET applications and PowerShell scripts. Here’s some details on using the CloudPageBlob.StartCopyFromBlob.

In the contrast to WSB and WAB, which can be used for backing up files/folders from inside the VM, this API-based copy can be used for bare metal backup and restore from outside the VM.  For example, if you would like to backup your Active Directory domain controller, you can make bare metal backups using Copy Blob as initial system backup. After that you can backup system state to a file using WSB, and backup files/folders including the system state backup file using WAB to Windows Azure Storage. When you need to restore these machines, first restore from bare metal backup VHD and restore from the backup files you made using WSB and WAB. 

Comparing tools

Use the chart below as a quick reference for the capabilities of each of these tools.

Tools

Online Backup

(Application consistent with no downtime)

Backup

destination

Backup System State

Backup File/Folder

WSB

Yes

Inside OS

Yes

Yes

WAB

Yes

Blob Store

No

Yes

Copy Blob

No

Blob Store

As a whole VHD.