Skip to content

Contact sales

By filling out this form and clicking submit, you acknowledge our privacy policy.

Using Azure Backup: 4 tips to back up and restore Virtual Machines

Microsoft Azure expert and Pluralsight Author Matthew Ulasien shares tips for backing up and restoring Virtual Machines using Azure Backup.

Aug 11, 2023 • 3 Minute Read

Please set an alt value for this image...

When working with Virtual Machines (VMs) on Azure, it's an undisputed fact: Any VM of importance must be backed up. After all, the line between a smooth workflow and a catastrophic data loss scenario is often as thin as a misplaced keystroke. 

Fortunately, there’s a native tool for that. Azure Backup ensures your important VMs—including Windows and Linux VMs—can weather any storm and be recovered from any disaster. 

Table of contents

Before we begin: What is Azure Backup?

Azure Backup is a scalable, secure, and cost-effective cloud-based backup solution provided by Microsoft. This versatile tool automates data protection to ensure business continuity and offers the ability to restore data, whether it's a simple file or an entire virtual machine. 

Designed with versatility in mind, Azure Backup seamlessly integrates with a wide range of data platforms, making it an ideal choice for small businesses and large enterprises alike.

4 tips to back up and restore VMs with Azure Backup

A few issues can pop up when using Azure Backup to back up and restore your VMs. These pointers can prevent a lot of headaches and make the process of backing up and restoring your critical VMs much easier.

1. Embrace application-consistent backups for Linux VMs

Application-consistent backups are crucial, as they ensure the integrity of the data and the application's transactions at the point of backup. This is particularly important for applications like databases where data consistency is vital. Without application-consistent backups, a restored application might not function correctly due to incomplete transactions or other inconsistencies.

When it comes to Windows-based database applications, Azure provides automatic application-consistent backups thanks to the power of the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS). VSS creates point-in-time copies of the data to be backed up, which makes your backup process run as smoothly as a well-oiled machine. 

However, if you’re working with Linux VMs, it’s not quite so automatic. Linux doesn't have the luxury of a built-in service like VSS for automatic application-consistent backups.

Fortunately, Azure Backup provides the ability to supply pre- and post-backup scripts to freeze your databases for backup. This ensures that no pending I/O operations lead to data inconsistency and gives you the peace of mind that comes with knowing your data is as safe as it can be.

2. Use the Azure Backup Center for centralized management

If you're juggling backups for various VMs across multiple Recovery Services vaults among different regions, then the Azure Backup Center is your best ally. It's the equivalent of having an air traffic control tower for all your backup needs, including monitoring backup jobs, configuring backup policies, and even triggering on-demand backups. 

The Azure Backup Center is all about streamlining your operations and giving you that much-desired oversight. Think of it as a one-stop shop for all (and I do mean ALL) your backup solution needs.

3. Master the art of recovering individual files from VM backups

You wouldn't demolish a house to fix a leaky faucet, would you? Similarly, there's no need to restore an entire VM when you need to recover only a few lost or corrupted files. 

Azure Backup for VMs lets you restore individual files without having to restore an entire VM first. Because Azure VM backup allows for the granular recovery of individual files, it saves you time and resources. It’s a handy tool to quickly grab a few backed-up files.

4. Prepare a storage account in your restore region before restoring a VM snapshot

This one gets me. So. Many. Times.

When restoring an Azure VM snapshot, you must provide a staging location in the form of a storage account in your restore region. If there’s no storage account available, you can’t just create one within the wizard in the portal. Instead, you must exit the wizard, create a storage account, then restart the wizard to set up your restore. 

To avoid this inconvenience, create a storage account in your restore region before you start the restore process. It will save you a lot of energy and a bit of sanity.

Explore Azure with confidence

And there you have it: four tips to help you navigate the world of Azure VM backup. 

Looking to expand your Azure knowledge? Check out my courses to explore the Azure cloud platform and take the Microsoft Azure Fundamentals exam with confidence.

Stay in touch for more Azure tips on your journey to become a cloud guru.

Matthew Ulasien

Matthew U.

I'm a technology professional with over 20 years of experience, with my head firmly lost in the clouds.

More about this author