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Azure Expands Cloud-Based Backup Functionality

Although Windows Azure has already established itself as one of the frontrunners in cloud computing access, this hasn't slowed them from enhancing and upgrading Azure's functionality in order to expand their market reach. In fact, their latest update adds full data backup support for Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 operating systems using Azure Backup. Moreover, the additional functionality is available as a free update for current Azure users.

etting Started

Getting started with Azure Backup is a rather simplified and straightforward process. Firstly, users must create their personal backup vault by signing into their account via the Azure Portal and downloading the agent, as well as specific vault credentials, from the backup vault page. The backup vault serves as a cloud-based repository of files that is associated with specific protected servers. Users of Windows Azure are able to specify a unique name and geographical region for their specific backup vault.

Once confirming the appropriate subscriptions are selected, users can select their newly created backup vault through the Azure Portal quick start page. Full instructions for downloading the vault, along with the related credentials, are available directly on the page. It is important to keep in mind that vault credentials do contain an authentication key, which is used to verify and authorize the appropriate server during initial registration. Also keep in mind that this key expires only 48 hours after it has been issued, so it's important to safeguard your downloaded files in a timely manner.

Next, users will install the agent and register the server. Agents are available in of two different versions, one of which is meant specifically for Windows Server Essentials and the other that is meant for all other versions of Windows Server. Once you have established which version you need, you can download and install the file. Here you'll be able to specify the installation folder, cache location and proxy access. Once complete, you'll be prompted to "Proceed to Registration" through the on-screen prompts.

From here, locate the vault credentials file that matches your download vault. You'll be given the option to create a unique passphrase to bypass Azure Backup's data encryption methods, or you can let Azure generate a random passphrase for you. Keep in mind that this passphrase can never be recovered, so it's important that keep your passphrase in a safe location for future use.

After establishing a passphrase, users can proceed to the server registration phase. The registration is an automated process, though it may take a few moments to finalize. Once complete, you'll be shown a simply summary screen that details your server information.

Now you're ready to designate files for archival and setup a backup schedule. Use the Azure Backup shortcut from the desktop to load the wizard and enter the appropriate information where necessary. When you are ready to finalize the process, simply click on the "Finish" button. Your first data backup will begin according to the custom schedule you've just created, and you'll be able to enjoy the solace provided through Windows Azure Backup.


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