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Backing up Servers to Windows Azure Backup via Recovery Services

Backing up Servers to Windows Azure Backup via Recovery Services

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Looking for a quick method to back up your Windows servers however you don’t want to consume any more onsite storage? Windows Azure Backup Vault is the answer.

Windows Azure Backup Agent is an add-on for Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 that you can download and install to schedule file and folder backups from your server to Windows Azure Backup. Windows Azure Backup is a part of Windows Azure Recovery Services that is managed by Microsoft. To transfer data between servers running Windows Server 2012 and Windows Azure Backup you can use the Windows Azure Backup Agent or the Windows Azure Backup cmdlets for Windows PowerShell.

Compatibility:

· Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1 (see appendix for additional steps)

· Windows Server 2012


Let’s get started…


CREATING A WINDOWS AZURE BACKUP VAULT

1. Navigate to http://manage.windowsazure.com/ and either log into your account or sign up for a trial account.

2. Once you’re logged into Windows Azure you’ll see a variety of options on the left hand navigation. Go ahead and Select +NEW at the bottom left hand corner:

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3. Select DATA SERVICES -> RECOVERY SERVICES -> BACKUP VAULT and finally QUICK CREATE:

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4. Add a NAME, select a REGION, and select the CREATE VAULT check mark at the bottom of the screen:

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That’s it, your Windows Azure Backup Vault is now created!

CONNECTING A SERVER TO YOUR WINDOWS AZURE BACKUP VAULT

First we’ll need to create a certificate to establish secure communications between the server and Windows Azure…

CERTIFICATION CREATION PROCESS

For the certificate creation process I like to use the Visual Studio command prompt.


Open a Visual Studio 2012 command prompt

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Note: if you don’t have Visual Studio you can download the makecert.exe from here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/aa386968%28v=vs.85%29.aspx

Run the following command:

makecert.exe -r -pe -n CN=CertificateName -ss my -sr localmachine -eku 1.3.6.1.5.5.7.3.2 -len 2048 -e 01/01/2016 YourCertificateName.cer

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Source: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn169036.aspx

Once the certificate is created you’ll need to export the private key to be used later on a server being backed up.


CERTIFICATE EXPORT

On the machine where the certificate was created, open an MMC (command prompt -> MMC, enter)

Chose File and Add/Remove Snap-in…

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Select “Certificates” from the menu of items, “then ADD >” and finally “Computer account”:

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Select to manage for the local machine and complete wizard.

Drill down to the Personal folder then to Certificates. Look for the “CertificateName” of your certificate you created (in my example it is literally CertificateName):

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Right click on the certificate go to “All Tasks” and “Export”:

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Select “Next” on the welcome screen.

Select “Yes, export the private key” and then “Next”.

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Leave the defaults on the Export File Format screen:

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On the Security screen check Password and type a password in, then select “Next”:

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Select “Browse” and type in a name for the file:

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Select “Save” and then finish the export process.


ADDING THE CERTIFICATE TO A SERVER TO BE BACKED UP

Now that you’ve exported the certification you’ll need to install it on the server or servers you’ll be backing up to Windows Azure.

1. Copy the certificate over to the server to be backed up.

2. Right click on the certificate and select “Install PFX”:

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Once the install process is completed, the certificate will be discoverable via the Windows Azure Backup Vault management agent.


EXPORT CERTIFICATE FOR USE IN WINDOWS AZURE

On the machine where the certificate was installed (from above), open an MMC (command prompt -> MMC, enter)

Chose File and Add/Remove Snap-in…

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Select “Certificates” from the menu of items, “then ADD >” and finally “Computer account”:

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Select to manage for the local machine and complete wizard.

Drill down to the Personal folder then to Certificates. Look for the “CertificateName” of your certificate you created (in my example it is literally CertificateName):

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Right click on the certificate go to “All Tasks” and “Export”:

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Select “Next” on the welcome screen.

Leave default selection and select “Next

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Leave default selection and select “Next

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Provide a name and save to a preferred location:

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Now you’ll need to upload the .cer to Windows Azure Backup Vault

Log into Windows Azure on the machine you saved the .cer on and select “RECOVERY SERVICES” on the left navigation:

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Find and select your Backup Vault under the “TYPE” column:

At the bottom of the page select “MANAGE CERTIFICATE”:

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Browse and select the .cer saved on your machine and select the check mark:

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INSTALLING THE WINDOWS AZURE BACKUP AGENT

Log into Windows Azure and locate the Backup Vault under the “TYPE” column and select it:

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On the entry page select “Download Agent”:

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Once the agent is downloaded install it as you would any other program.

Note: the install .exe will go by the name of WABInstaller.exe – after installation you may see there is a newer version in the backup agent console. Go ahead and download and install it.

 

UPDATE: Install the following hotfix where the agent is installed to backup 1.65TB of data: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2989574

 

LAUNCHING THE WINDOWS AZURE BACKUP AGENT

After the agent is installed an icon that looks like the following will be placed on the desktop of the server.

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Launch the Windows Azure backup console via the desktop shortcut.
Next you'll need to register your server by using the “Register Server” link under Actions:

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Configure or skip the proxy configuration:

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Remember that certificate you imported at the beginning? Here’s where you’ll browse for it. Select OK to confirm the certificate.

Note: it will automatically detect the certificate.

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Once the certificate is confirmed you’ll need to select a backup vault (the one you created in Azure a few lines up), select “Next”:

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Now you’ll need to generate a passphrase. I recommend using the “Generate Passphrase” button. It will be stored in a .txt file in a location of your choice so no need to write it down.

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Select “Register” at the bottom of the dialog and your server will register with Windows Azure Backup Vault.


BACKING UP FILES TO Windows Azure Backup Vault

Launch Windows Azure backup agent using the shortcut

Let’s schedule a backup now using the “Schedule Backup” link in the console:

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I’m going to skip the Getting started screen…

On the next screen you have the option to add items (e.g. files) or set exclusion for file types, folders, or specific locations.

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I chose to add “MyFiles” folder however this could be any folder on your server:

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Select “OK” to confirm your choice(s):

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Specify the days of the week you’d like to back up the data:

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On the next screen you’ll set the retention period for the data, either 7, 15, or 30 days.

Don’t be confused by the retention period as the backup will always keep the latest version of the backup. However once the file is deleted, moved, renamed, or overwritten, the older file is stored for the number of days (e.g. retention period) specified before it’s removed completely.

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Proceed to the next screen to confirm your settings and Finish the backup schedule:

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RECOVER DATA

To recover data launch the Windows Azure Backup console and select “Recover Data”:

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I’m going to select the local server and select “Next”:

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On this screen I can either browse or search for files. I’m going to select Browse for files and select “Next”:

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Select a volume. Since I’m only backup up data on the C: drive I’ll select it and then select “Next”:

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Here is where you’ll select date of the backup you wish to recover. Since I only have one backup so far I’ll select it and then select “Next”:

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Here is where you’ll select items to recover based on what was chosen to backup:

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Select files to recover and then select “Next”:

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On the recovery options page there are a wide variety of options most organizations demand. I chose to restore the files to another location as specified below. However choose the options to fit your needs and select “Next”:

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Lastly select “Recover” to recover the selected files:

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Let it run until the job is completed:

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Take a look at the completed jobs in the Windows Azure Backup console:

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Finally, let’s look at the recovered files:

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Congratulations! You’ve backed up to your Windows Azure Backup Vault.


ADDITIONAL RESOURCCES

Windows Azure Backup Overview http://technet.microsoft.com/library/hh831419.aspx


APPENDIX

For Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1 you may receive the following error when running the agent installer:

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For Windows Server 2008 R2 with SP1 only, download and install the following two packages and run the installer afterward:

Microsoft .NET Framework 4 (Web Installer)

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=17851

Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 Service Pack 1 Redistributable Package MFC Security Update (may not need as the agent installs it too)

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=26368

Comments
  • Couple of questions:

    Why use this instead of DPM?

    Why not bake this into Windows Server Backup?

    Why does Azure "Vault" cost more than just raw BLOB storage - isn't it the same thing?

    If you are using the same thing, couldn't this process be much simpler by having a tool that does all of this but just needs the security keys for Azure BLOB storage instead of mucking with all the cert 'stuff?'

    Thanks!

  • Hi doodlemania,

    Here are my thoughts regarding your questions,

    Why use this instead of DPM?

    Courtenay: There are organizations who may not have invested in System Center yet and require a quick method to backup data and store it offsite.  System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) allows backup to Windows Azure as well (via the same Azure backup service) for organizations who require an enterprise level backup solution.

    Why not bake this into Windows Server Backup?

    Courtenay: After the agent is installed it’s integrated into the Windows Server Backup MMC if that is what you’re asking.

    Why does Azure "Vault" cost more than just raw BLOB storage - isn't it the same thing?

    If you are using the same thing, couldn't this process be much simpler by having a tool that does all of this but just needs the security keys for Azure BLOB storage instead of mucking with all the cert 'stuff?'

    Courtenay: BLOB storage and the Windows Azure Backup Vault are different forms of storage.  I am unable to comment on the current pricing.  I suggest providing feedback via the Windows Azure site.

    Additional Resources:

    System Center Data Protection Manager: technet.microsoft.com/.../hh758173.aspx

    Windows Azure: www.windowsazure.com/en-us

  • Thank you. This article helped me a lot. I was almost there, but I missed the "local machine" store but instead was importing to "current user". I blogged about your link here vijaytech.net/.../azure-recovery-service-vault

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