Back up Azure virtual machines to a Recovery Services vault

This article details how to back up Azure VMs (both Resource Manager-deployed and Classic-deployed) to a Recovery Services vault. Most of the work for backing up VMs is the preparation. Before you can back up or protect a VM, you must complete the prerequisites to prepare your environment for protecting your VMs. Once you have completed the prerequisites, then you can initiate the backup operation to take snapshots of your VM.

The Azure Backup service had two types of vaults - the Backup vault and the Recovery Services vault. The Backup vault came first. Then the Recovery Services vault came along to support the expanded Resource Manager deployments. Microsoft recommends using Resource Manager deployments unless you specifically require a Classic deployment. By the end of 2017, all Backup vaults were converted to Recovery Services vaults.


Backup vaults could not protect Resource Manager-deployed solutions. However, Recovery Services vaults can protect classically-deployed servers and VMs.

For more information, see the articles on planning your VM backup infrastructure in Azure and Azure virtual machines.

Triggering the backup job

The backup policy associated with the Recovery Services vault defines how often and when the backup operation runs. By default, the first scheduled backup is the initial backup. Until the initial backup occurs, the Last Backup Status on the Backup Jobs blade shows as Warning(initial backup pending).

Backup pending

Unless your initial backup is due to begin soon, it is recommended that you run Back up Now. The following procedure starts from the vault dashboard. This procedure serves for running the initial backup job after you have completed all prerequisites. If the initial backup job has already been run, this procedure is not available. The associated backup policy determines the next backup job.

To run the initial backup job:

  1. On the vault dashboard, click the number under Backup Items, or click the Backup Items tile.
    Settings icon

    The Backup Items blade opens.

    Back up items

  2. On the Backup Items blade, select the item.

    Settings icon

    The Backup Items list opens.

    Backup job triggered

  3. On the Backup Items list, click the ellipses ... to open the Context menu.

    Context menu

    The Context menu appears.

    Context menu

  4. On the Context menu, click Backup now.

    Context menu

    The Backup Now blade opens.

    shows the Backup Now blade

  5. On the Backup Now blade, click the calendar icon, use the calendar control to select the last day this recovery point is retained, and click Backup.

    set the last day the Backup Now recovery point is retained

    Deployment notifications let you know the backup job has been triggered, and that you can monitor the progress of the job on the Backup jobs page. Depending on the size of your VM, creating the initial backup may take a while.

  6. To view or track the status of the initial backup, on the vault dashboard, on the Backup Jobs tile click In progress.

    Backup Jobs tile

    The Backup Jobs blade opens.

    Backup Jobs tile

    In the Backup jobs blade, you can see the status of all jobs. Check if the backup job for your VM is still in progress, or if it has finished. When a backup job is finished, the status is Completed.


    As a part of the backup operation, the Azure Backup service issues a command to the backup extension in each VM to flush all writes and take a consistent snapshot.

Troubleshooting errors

If you run into issues while backing up your virtual machine, see the VM troubleshooting article for help.

Next steps

Now that you have protected your VM, see the following articles to learn about VM management tasks, and how to restore VMs.