Using the Azure Backup Direct Agent to Backup System State

Recently, Microsoft released the next version of the Microsoft Azure Backup Server (also known by the acronym of MABS).

With this new version of MABS, we now get enhancements like:

  • Being able to protect applications such as SQL 2016, SharePoint 2016, Exchange 2016, and Windows Server 2016
  • Modern Backup Storage
  • Protection against accidental deletion and against security threats like ransomware

Along with these enhancements, Microsoft updated the Azure Backup Agent. This isn’t just a little update though. Now, we can backup Windows Server System State directly to Azure!

 

Backing Up System State (Previously)

If you’ve had any experience with backup management (specific to Microsoft toolsets), you know that, originally, in order to backup System State, the only option you had was System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM). Then came the Microsoft Azure Backup Server (MABS). It is interesting that now the direct Agent is getting this feature. I’ll let you speculate what the future holds because I already know what the future state will be ;-).

 

Backing Up System State (with Direct Agent)

But now let’s take a look at how to use this new feature.

After you’ve created a Recovery Services Vault (RSV), you can download the direct Agent, and install it on your target system.

Next, we need to modify a registry setting to enable this preview feature. Hopefully, this will be simplified for the general release, but for now, here are the steps to follow:

MAB-Agent-StopEngine Using the Azure Backup Direct Agent to Backup System State

MAB – Agent – StopEngine

MAB-Agent-StopEngine Using the Azure Backup Direct Agent to Backup System State

MAB – Agent – Registry

Run the following command to stop the backup engine: net stop OBEngineOpen the registry (via RegEdit), and navigate to the following key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Azure Backup\Config\CloudBackupProviderCreate a new DWord value, with the name of TurnOffSSBFeature, and set its value to 2.

MAB-Agent-StopEngine Using the Azure Backup Direct Agent to Backup System State

MAB – Agent – Registry – New Entry

MAB-Agent-StopEngine Using the Azure Backup Direct Agent to Backup System State

MAB – Agent – StopEngine

Then return to the command prompt and start the Service again by running this command: net start obengine

Now, when you go to select items to backup, you will now see the option for System State.

MAB-Agent-StopEngine Using the Azure Backup Direct Agent to Backup System State

MAB – Agent – System State

 

A Note About Backup Schedule

Here’s an interesting but important observation. Contrary to our normal ability to set backup schedules, retention policies, etc. when backing up System State, the direct Agent imposes the following schedule:

  • Backup Time: 9:00 PM
  • Backup Days: Sunday
  • Weekly Frequency: Every 1 week(s)
  • Retention Days: 60

It is unclear if we will have more granular control over these settings when the feature becomes General Availability (GA), but I hope so.

MAB-Agent-StopEngine Using the Azure Backup Direct Agent to Backup System State

MAB – Agent – System State – Schedule

 

Conclusion

It’s exciting to see new features being released. And, if you want to directly affect what features are developed next, head over to the Azure Backup and SCDPM UserVoice form, and vote for the ideas you would like to see next.

For example, currently, Azure Backup does not support backing up volumes that are formatted in ReFS. If this is a feature you need, vote up the suggestion on UserVoice here.

Until next time, keep backing it up!

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