Full Backups Have Come to Azure Virtual Machines

By Aaron Saposnik| October 02, 2015

Have you ever been nervous about making changes to an Azure VM because there was no quick restore process? Have you ever been curious about how to protect your Azure VM at the OS level instead of at the file level? Worry no more; Microsoft has recently released to general availability an upgrade to Azure Backup that allows for easy VM-level backups. Just as with most common backup solutions for on-premises virtual environments, Azure will now backup your complete IaaS VM in the cloud and will allow you to restore historical copies back into Azure with just a few clicks.

How does the backup work?

Azure uses the built-in tools within Windows to get application-consistent backups. Whether you have SQL, Active Directory, or any other database application installed on your Azure VM, the backup solution will use the Volume Snapshot Service (VSS) to make sure your backup is complete and there is no data loss. Azure will then store your backups in a dedicated cloud backup vault to ensure that the information is segregated from your production virtual machine. If you ever need to restore, a simple web interface is available to pick the appropriate backup copy and restore the entire system back into Azure.

What backup options are available?

Azure has many different backup options to protect your virtual machines. Each machine has a policy applied to it and these policies can be adjusted to meet the needs of each system. While Azure will only allow one backup per day, the backup can be scheduled at any time of day (either on the hour or the half hour). Backups also can be scheduled for advanced retention daily, weekly, monthly and yearly. For instance, if your organization has compliance requirements for data archiving, then Azure Backups can use the monthly and yearly retention to help meet those goals.


At this time, the only caveat to Azure Backups is that the backup is a full virtual machine-level backup, and a restore of individual files from within the backup is not yet available. However, if file-level backups are required; Azure Backups also provides an in-server backup solution that can be configured to backup selected files and folders. Both solutions are available using the same storage vaults and interface to allow for easy mixing and matching of backup solutions.

Can I protect non-Windows VMs?

Yes! Currently Azure Backup supports both Windows and Linux VMs. However, since VSS is not available for Linux VMs, we always recommend testing after the initial backup to ensure that the backups are fully consistent and all database applications load properly from backups.

Do you need help backing up your Azure VMs? Our cloud solutions experts can advise you every step of the way. Contact us today.

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