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Thursday, September 23, 2010

How to Backup to Windows Azure

Windows Azure is Microsoft’s Cloud Operating System. Just like DOS started with Disk (disk operating system), Windows Azure starts with Azure Storage. 

Storage is the foundation of every OS. Wouldn’t it be cool that you can move your local folders and files into Windows Azure, and later you can use it for your Azure based applications?

Step 1 - Sign Up

The journey starts at the Microsoft Online Service customer portal, where you will authorize Microsoft to charge you based on your monthly Azure consumption, including the Azure Storage.

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Step 2 – Account Management

Next stop is the Windows Azure portal, where you will get the credentials for your Azure account.

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After this, you are done with the steps you need from Microsoft. With Azure Storage’s account information in hand, you have many choices from this point on. There are many 3rd party applications available.

Step 3 – Find a 3rd Party Solution

(a) It is fairly easy to code against Azure using C#, so you can roll your simple backup program in Visual Studio 2010, if all that you need is schedule copying some files and folders.

(b) Find a desktop client for Windows Azure. For example, Gladinet Cloud Desktop is one of them. You can map Windows Azure Storage as a mapped drive and do structured folder backup or do ad-doc drag-and-drop backup.

(c) Find a Cloud Storage Gateway that supports Windows Azure Storage. The cloud gateway will allow you to map a CIFS (SMB) share to Windows Azure from a file server. You can continue to use traditional Windows backup software from the shelf to do backup work. This is more an option for SMB. Gladinet CloudAFS can get the job done.

(d) Find a dedicated backup program for Windows Azure. A dedicated backup program will do above and beyond a simple second copy kind of backup. It should be able to support multiple snapshots and support backing up file-in-use. Gladinet Cloud Backup could be a choice here.

This is all it takes to backup folders and files to Windows Azure.

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