How to Configure Online Backup for Windows Server 2012 to Cloud?

Windows Server 2012 has many new and enhanced features that seem to be quite helpful for end user. The objective of this article is to explain how to set up and use one of these features i.e. Online Backup on cloud.

Online Backup feature in Windows Server 2012 provides an option to store backups into the cloud (Windows Azure). Current offering includes of this service for customers of Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 Essentials and System Centre 2012 during.This feature is available as an additional download – software agent which needs to be installed on any server that will be using the Online Backup feature. This piece of software provides the connection to Windows Azure Online Backup service.

Installing, configuring and using the Online Backup feature is not very complicated. Basically, what you need to do is to install the Online Backup agent on the server we want to use the Online Backup feature for, register the server in online service, create schedule with selecting what will be backed up (and when), and then wait for the backup to occur.

In more detail, below mentioned are steps one need to take to make the Windows Online Backup work on a plain Windows Server 2012 installation:

1.      Enable the Windows Server Backup feature
Windows Server Backup feature is part of Windows Server installation, but disabled by default. So, the first step is to enable it. One can enable it using the new Server Manager interface – selectManageAdd Roles and Features and, finally, select the Windows Server Backup feature and finish the wizard.

One can also install this feature by using the DISM command-line tool – you need to run Command Prompt (As Admin) and then the command dism / online / Enable-Feature:WindowsServerBackup.

windows server backup

2.      Register for Windows Azure Recovery services

Next step is to set up an account for the Azure Recovery Service at Windows Azure Management Portal.

 (You can get your free trial account here.)

  • Click Recovery Services. If you have already created a backup vault click the name of backup vault to view the vault dashboard. Otherwise, click New and Create a Backup Vault using the Quick Start wizard.

recovery services windows

3.      Download the backup agent from Management Portal (Dashboard)

Just click on Download Agent button to get the backup agent and Install WABInstaller.exe backup agent setup file (download size is about 46.8 MB).

windows azure backup vault

4.      Install the agent

Windows Azure backup agent setup wizard

Installation of the downloaded agent software is pretty straightforward – prerequisites are the Windows PowerShell (which is installed by default on Windows Server 2012) and Microsoft Online Services Sign-in Assistant which will be automatically installed during setup. After finishing the installation wizard, you need to open the Windows Server Backup console and verify if Online Backup entry is visible on the left-hand side. If it is visible, the agent installation was successful, and you can proceed to the next step. Leave the console open.

5.      Register the server in Windows Azure Online Backup service

register server wizard

If you select Online Backup entry in the Windows Server Backup console, you will get additional options on the right-hand side. Select Register Server option to start a wizard for configuring the online backup.

If you are using proxy to connect to the Internet, insert the required info about it. Next you will configure a passphrase for encrypting the backups in online service. Passphrase can be generated automatically if you click the Generate Passphrase button, or you can enter one by yourself (keep in mind that it needs to be a minimum of 16 characters long).

After that, you just need to enter your credentials to access Windows Azure Online Backup (from step 2), and the server will be added to your online account.

6.      Create backup schedule

schedule backup wizard specify backup time


Now you can create the backup schedule by using the option Schedule Backup on the right-hand side of the Windows Server Backup console. Wizard for creating the backup schedule is similar to the wizard that is used to create the schedule locally. Basically, you need to select what will be backed up (you cannot select System State Backup, only files and folders – for System State Backup you still need to use the Local Backup option), when do you want the backup to occur (you can select one or more days of the week and up to 3 times per day) and retention period (available options are 7, 15, and 30 days).

7.      Run backup now (or wait for scheduled backup to occur)

confirmation screen microsoft azure


Final step is to select the option Backup Up Now or wait for scheduled backup to occur. Remember that the backup will require some amount of your network (and Internet) bandwidth, to run the backup outside of business hours, if needed.

After this final step, your Windows Server 2012 will be backing up “to the cloud”. Restoring the files and folders is also made simple by using the Recover Data wizard in the same (Windows Server Backup) console.

Just to mention – one of the “cool” settings regarding the Online Backup feature is bandwidth throttling which allows you to control the amount of bandwidth that backup is using during work or non-work hours. This is the setting that provides you with the flexibility of doing the backups also during the work hours, which is really nice. The throttling settings are located under the Change Properties option which is visible once you register your server and set up the backup schedule.

microsoft azure backup properties