If you’re considering backing up your SQL Server database to the cloud, there are many compelling reasons. Not only will you have an offsite copy of your data for business continuity and disaster recovery purposes, but you can save on CAPEX by using Microsoft Azure for cost-effective storage.  And now, you can choose to backup to Microsoft Azure even for databases that aren’t running the latest version of SQL Server – creating a consistent backup strategy across your database environment. 

SQL Server has these tools and features to help you back up to the cloud:

  • In SQL Server 2014, Managed Backup to Microsoft Azure manages your backup to Microsoft Azure, setting backup frequency based on data activity.  It is available inside the SQL Server Management Studio in SQL Server 2014.
  • In SQL Server 2012 and 2014, Backup to URL provides backup to Microsoft Azure using T-SQL and PowerShell scripting.
  • For prior versions, SQL Server Backup to Microsoft Azure Tool enables you to back up to the cloud all supported versions of SQL Server, including older ones.  It can also be used to provide encryption and compression for your backups – even for versions of SQL Server that don’t support these functions natively.

To show you how easy it is to get started with SQL Server Backup to Microsoft Azure Tool, we’ve outlined the four simple steps you need to follow:

Prerequisites: Microsoft Azure subscription and a Microsoft Azure Storage Account.  You can log in to the Microsoft Azure Management Portal using your Microsoft account.  In addition, you will need to create a Microsoft Azure Blob Storage Container:  SQL Server uses the Microsoft Azure Blob storage service and stores the backups as blobs. 

Step 1: Download the SQL Server Backup to Microsoft Azure Tool, which is available on the Microsoft Download Center.

Step 2: Install the tool. From the download page, download the MSI (x86/x64) to your local machine that has the SQL Server Instances installed, or to a local share with access to the Internet. Use the MSI to install the tool on your production machines. Double click to start the installation. 

Step 3: Create your rules.  Start the Microsoft SQL Server Backup to Microsoft Azure Tool Service by running SQLBackup2Azure.exe.  Going through the wizard to setup the rules allows the program to process the backup files that should be encrypted, compressed or uploaded to Azure storage. The Tool does not do job scheduling or error tracking, so you should continue to use SQL Server Management Studio for this functionality.

On the Rules page, click Add to create a new rule.    This will launch a three screen rule entry wizard.

The rule will tell the Tool what local folder to watch for backup file creation. You must also specify the file name pattern that this rule should apply to.

To store the backup in Microsoft Azure Storage, you must specify the name of the account, the storage access key, and the name of the container.  You can retrieve the name of the storage account and the access key information by logging into the Microsoft Azure management portal.

At this time, you can also specify whether or not you wish to have the backup files encrypted or compressed.

Once you have created one or more rules, you will see the existing rules and the option to Modify or Delete the rule.

Step 4: Restore a Database from a Backup Taken with SQL Server Backup to Microsoft Azure Tool in place. The SQL Server Backup to Microsoft Azure Tool creates a ‘stub’ file with some metadata to use during restore.  Use this file like your regular backup file when you wish to restore a database.  SQL Server uses the metadata from this file and the backup on Microsoft Azure storage to complete the restore. 

If the stub file is ever deleted, you can recover a copy of it from the Microsoft Azure storage container in which the backups are stored.  Place the stub file into a folder on the local machine where the Tool is configured to detect and upload backup files.

That’s all it takes!  Now you’re up and running with Backup to and Restore from Microsoft Azure.

To learn more about why to back up to the cloud, join Forrester Research analyst Noel Yuhanna in a webinar on Database Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery.  You’ll find out why enterprises should make database cloud backup and DR part of their enterprise database strategy. 

The webinar takes place on Tuesday, 7/29 at 9 AM Pacific time; register now.