With the recent release of the Microsoft Azure Backup Server v2, we now have the ability to protect applications such as SQL 2016, SharePoint 2016, Exchange 2016, and Windows Server 2016.

But we also get other benefits like:

  • Faster disk backups, and less storage consumption using Modern Backup Storage (using Windows 2016 block cloning)
  • Workload-aware backup storage technology (i.e. backing up VMs to standard HDDs, but SQL databases to SSDs)
  • Resilient Change Tracking (RCT)
  • Backup Windows 2016, SQL 2016, Exchange 2016 and SharePoint 2016 workloads
  • Backup Windows 10 client backup
  • Even the ability to backup and recovery Shielded VMs

But what if you already have the original Microsoft Azure Backup Server (MABS) deployed? Not to worry, because MABS supports in-place upgrade from v1 to v2, which we will walk through today.


Microsoft Azure Backup Server (MABS) v1

The original MABS v1 had the following system requirements.

  • Supported Operating System: Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2
    Processor: Minimum: 1 GHz, dual-core CPU; Recommended: 2.33 GHz quad-core CPU
  • RAM: Minimum: 4GB; Recommended: 8GB
  • Hard Drive Space: Minimum: 3GB; Recommended: 3GB
  • Disks for backup storage pool: 1.5 times size of data to be protected

You also had to ensure that Microsoft .Net 3.5, Microsoft .Net 3.5 SP1 and Microsoft Net 4.0 was installed. If you were installing MABS v1 on Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, then you had to also install the Windows Management Framework 4.0.

For reference, here is the link to the Microsoft Azure Backup Server v1 bits.


Microsoft Azure Backup Server (MABS) v2

For comparison, MABS v2 has the following system requirements (with the differences highlighted).

  • Supported Operating System: Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016
    Processor: Minimum: 1 GHz, dual-core CPU; Recommended: 2.33 GHz quad-core CPU
  • RAM: Minimum: 4GB; Recommended: 8GB
  • Hard Drive Space: Minimum: 3GB; Recommended: 3GB
  • Disks for backup storage pool: 1.5 times size of data to be protected


You also had to ensure that Microsoft .Net 3.5, Microsoft .Net 3.5 SP1 and Microsoft Net 4.0/4.5/4.6.1 are installed. If you are installing the MABS v2 Agent on Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, then you also have to install the Windows Management Framework 4.0.

For reference, here is the link to the Microsoft Azure Backup Server v2 bits.


Upgrading MABS v1 to MABS v2

Note that the steps for upgrading from MABS v1 to v2 are already documented by Microsoft here. So I won’t go through the process step-by-step (though some of the official documentation isn’t as clear as it should be). Also, if you are specifically using System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM), you can refer to its upgrade documentation here. Since MABS is based on the DPM code, the upgrade logic applies to both products as well.

I still did want to go through a hands-on upgrade myself though, as several people have reported issues and failures with the upgrade process. So, I will call out specific items worth your attention along the way.


Direct Comparisons

Firstly, when we compare just the installation files between v1 (left) and v2 (right), we see an increase of 1.56 GB, 790 more Files, and 8 more Folders.

MABS Export File Comparison
MABS Export File Comparison

In the MABS console, the Product version is shown as for v1 (left), and 12.0.332.0 for v2 (right).

MABS Product Version Comparison
MABS Product Version Comparison


Recovery Service Vault Comparisons

Also of interest is how the MABS server is shown in the associated Recovery Service Vault. Notice that v1 (bottom) is blank for Version and Agent, whereas v2 (top) does show both the Version and Agent.

MABS RSV Portal Comparison
MABS RSV Portal Comparison


Upgrade Installation

When going through the upgrade, the SQL Settings remind you that the MABS database will be upgraded, not the SQL installation. Since MABS v1 pre-installs SQL Server 2014, whereas MABS v2 pre-installs SQL Server 2016 SP1, your upgrade will remain on SQL 2014. If you want to upgrade to SQL Server 2016, you will have to do so after the MABS upgrade is complete.

Correction: So it’s not apparent until you get to the end of the wizard, but apparently the upgrade actually does upgrade SQL Server to 2016 SP1.

Ammendum: An individual that read this post contacted me, and contributed this additional information about their experience:

During the upgrade, the step “Upgrade SQL Server 2014 to SQL Server 2016 SP1” failed. I was going nuts trying to figure out why but it came down to checking the properties of the existing local MICROSOFT$DPM$Acct. The “User cannot change password” box was checked. I’m not sure if I checked that manually after the initial installation or not. Even though I was using the same password from the original installation, the SQL upgrade failed until I unchecked the box.


The error details were as follows: “The SQL Server installation failed. All changes made by the SQL Server installation to the system were rolled back. Please visit http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkID=617319 for additional help. ID: 4309. Details: Unknown error (0xffffffff)”


MABS Upgrade - SQL Upgrade
MABS Upgrade – SQL Upgrade

Also notice that, if you’re performing this upgrade on a Windows Server 2012 R2 system, you will need to manually download and install the .NET Framework 4.6. However, the link that is provided by the installer points to the Web Installer version of the framework, and not the Offline Installer version. Depending on your environment, you may need to use the Offline Installer version.

MABS Upgrade - SQL Settings
MABS Upgrade – SQL Settings


According to the official upgrade documentation listed here, it indicates that upgrading from Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2016 is supported. However, it does not clearly state if the Operating System upgrade needs to occur prior to upgrading MABS, or if it is supported afterwards.

Since it makes sense that upgrading to Windows Server 2016 first is the logical approach, I decided to test the opposite. Upgrade MABS to Version 2 first (running on Windows Server 2012 R2), and then upgrade the Operating System.

Update: According to the Azure Backup team, here is the recommended practice:

  1. Upgrade MABS V1 to MABS V2
  2. Upgrade Windows 2012 R2 to Windows 2016
  3. Then move protection from current storage to Modern Backup Storage by adding new volumes (as is documented here)


Update: Even though I installed the .NET Framework 4.6 using the Web Installer version the wizard provided, the MABS installation still did not detect its presence and would not allow the upgrade to complete.

I reached out to the Product Group for clarification, since according to the upgrade article here, it indicates that MABS v2 is supported on Windows Server 2012 R2, therefore upgrading the OS to 2016 is not a hard requirement.

MABS Upgrade - .NET Framework Detection Failure
MABS Upgrade – .NET Framework Detection Failure

Update: So it turns out that if you use the Offline Version of the .NET Framework 4.6 instead of the Web Version, this resolves the “.NET Framework 4.6 not installed” error.


The next thing of note is the Installation Settings. Although the documentation states: “make any changes to the location where Azure Backup Server is installed, or the scratch location”, in real life, the installer does not pick up the previous MABS’s configured locations.

This is particularly important because in my case I set my Scratch Location (aka Cache) to a separate drive, but the upgrade installer defaults to C:\.

This makes me think that the “upgrade” installer is nothing more than just a complete re-install overtop of the MABS v1, versus an actual upgrade procedure.

MABS Upgrade - Installation Settings
MABS Upgrade – Installation Settings


Another interesting point is the Security Settings. It prompts for the password of the local account for running the SQL Server Service and SQL Agent.

Again I’ll reiterate that if this was a true in-place upgrade, you should not be prompted to enter this information, as it will already be pre-existing. I am uncertain if there are any negative effects to entering a password that differs from the original MABS v1 setup (I’ll test it and report back if there is).

MABS Upgrade - Security Settings
MABS Upgrade – Security Settings


During the installation, I received a prompt to close the “Microsoft Azure Recovery Services Management Agent (Process ID: 4076)”. It’s odd that this occurred because the only thing I had running was the upgrade installer.

I first tried the “Retry” option, but that didn’t work. So I ended up choose “Ignore”. However, the prompt appeared a second time during the installation. Again, choosing Ignore allowed the installation to finally complete.

MABS Upgrade - Application Prompt
MABS Upgrade – Application Prompt

After the installation is complete, it apparently creates a new desktop shortcut for the “Microsoft Azure Backup Server Management Shell”. However, there is already a shortcut from the original installation.

So in reality, the MABS v2 upgrade create a new desktop shortcut, replacing the original one, but doesn’t actually clean it up. So there ends up being 2 shortcuts for the same thing!

In checking the properties of the new shortcut, it’s target is set to: C:\Windows\system32\windowspowershell\v1.0\powershell.exe -noexit -File “C:\Program Files\Microsoft Azure Backup\DPM\DPM\bin\dpmcliinitscript.ps1”

But, when you look at the properties of the original shortcut, it looks broken. So again, the upgrade doesn’t do a good job of post-install cleanup.

MABS Upgrade - Management Shell Shortcut
MABS Upgrade – Management Shell Shortcut

I also checked out the new SQL Server Management Studio that gets installed as part of the upgrade. Unfortunately, when attempting to launch this, it threw the error: “The ‘Microsoft.SqlServer.Management.SqlStudio, Microsoft.SqlServer.Management.SqlStudio, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=89845dc8080cc91’ package did not load correctly.

MABS Upgrade - SQL Server Management Studio Error
MABS Upgrade – SQL Server Management Studio Error

I also encountered a similar error for the “Management Studio Update Checker” package, the “SqlTelemetryPackage“, and the “Microsoft SQL Server Editors Package“.

And when the SQL Studio finally did load, it was blank/empty, and there was no prompt to connect to the SQL Server.

MABS Upgrade - SQL Server Management Studio Blank
MABS Upgrade – SQL Server Management Studio Blank

So, of course, I just attempted to go to File > Connect Object Explorer, but I encountered yet another error; this time it was “Could not load file or assembly ‘Microsoft.SqlServer.SqlTDiagM, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=89845dc8080cc91’ or one of its dependencies. The system cannot find the file specified.

So in short, not good.

MABS Upgrade - SQL Server Management Studio Error#2
MABS Upgrade – SQL Server Management Studio Error#2

But I was able to use the “old” SQL Server 2014 Management Studio without issue. And confirmed that the SQL Server version is now 13.0.4001.0 (also known as SQL Server 2016).

MABS Upgrade - SQL Server Properties
MABS Upgrade – SQL Server Properties


Upgrading MABS v2 From WS2012R2 to WS2016

The final thing I wanted to attempt was upgrading the OS after MABS itself was upgraded. Why did I want to do this? Well, I figured it’s a legitimate scenario where some organizations may not yet be ready or willing to deploy Windows Server 2016, but still want the enhancements that come with MABS v2.

So I mounted the Windows Server 2016 ISO, and ran the in-place upgrade of the Operating System.

One thing that I did not expect, was to be prompted for the Product Key as part of the upgrade. Maybe it’s just me, because I haven’t really done a lot of in-place upgrades to OSes, but the host system (now running MABS v2), did not have an activated OS (which is common for me in my labs).

After claiming a license key from my MSDN subscription (ensuring to use the Datacenter one, since the original OS is Datacenter), the upgrade continued.

As an FYI, to upgrade Windows Server 2012 R2 to Windows Server 2016, you need to have 10.7 GB space free on the C:\ drive.

After the OS upgrade completed, I checked MABS and everything appeared to work correctly.



I know that this blog post is morphed into a really long read, but I wanted to ensure that I was thorough for everyone’s sake.

The short of it is, if you’re planning on performing an in-place upgrade of MABS from v1 to v2, it’s technically possible, but there are a lot of little things that will cause issues along the way.