Computers and Internet

Azure Online Backup with Windows Server Essentials 2012 R2

As some of you may remember, I have been experimenting with Azure Online Backup to protect our digital family memories since October 2012; I had posted my setup notes back then.

I was using WSE 2012 (not R2) back then, and since transitioned into R2. Azure Online Backup also evolved quite a bit since it’s early preview days.

I wanted to share my notes on the setup and issues.

After getting over initial test runs, I wanted to give it a try with really good size backup job. I scheduled the task with the scope of 3TB worth of files sitting on a single volume. I promptly hit the service limit that I didn’t know about, which is that you can backup only 1700GB per volume (error code 0x186E9). Below error message has the detail:


I have then scaled back on the scope, now the backup job as a scope of only 142GB per below.


Jobs are succeeding daily, so I’d say it’s pretty reliable from that perspective. Only unsuccessful ones are because the volume was completely full, that it couldn’t take the snapshot. These show up like below. For me, it’s completely expected because this volume has a nightly job that moves a lot of Recorded TV content and naturally gets full. But so long as there is at least 1GB space available, this incremental backup job succeeds.


So how does a daily backup job look like?


In above example, I picked a date where there were no changes at all. So the 44MB of the traffic is the minimum metadata that appears to be required for 140GB worth of files on a daily basis. It took 8 minutes to complete that job.

For a day where I uploaded some new photos from a family trip, it takes a bit longer. 57 minutes for 697MB.


Reason for lengthy upload is the throttle policy, which is really helpful for ensuring we don’t have any VOIP, Netflix or web browsing experience degradation while backups are taking place. Throttling is configured here:


Let’s talk about recovery a bit.

Azure Online Backup tool has this menu item called Recover Data, pretty self explanatory:


Most of the recover data wizard is self explanatory, but I wanted to make point on few dialogs. This one for example, shows days with successful backups. Note the bold ones:


You also have the option of choosing a different target, among many other additional options:


So that’s about it. I’m gathering some detailed usage information to comment about the cost aspects – will update this post when I have enough to provide.

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