Back up SQL Server on Azure Stack

Use this article to configure Microsoft Azure Backup Server (MABS) to protect SQL Server databases on Azure Stack.

The management of SQL Server database backup to Azure and recovery from Azure involves three steps:

  1. Create a backup policy to protect SQL Server databases
  2. Create on-demand backup copies
  3. Recover the database from Disks, and from Azure

Before you start

Install and prepare Azure Backup Server.

Create a backup policy to protect SQL Server databases to Azure

  1. On the Azure Backup Server UI, click the Protection workspace.

  2. On the tool ribbon, click New to create a new protection group.

    Create Protection Group

    Azure Backup Server starts the Protection Group wizard, which leads you through creating a Protection Group. Click Next.

  3. In the Select Protection Group Type screen, select Servers.

    Select Protection Group Type - 'Servers'

  4. In the Select Group Members screen, the Available members list displays the various data sources. Click + to expand a folder and reveal the subfolders. Click the checkbox to select an item.

    Select SQL DB

    All selected items appear in the Selected members list. After selecting the servers or databases you want to protect, click Next.

  5. In the Select Data Protection Method screen, provide a name for the protection group and select the I want online Protection checkbox.

    Data Protection Method - short-term disk & Online Azure

  6. In the Specify Short-Term Goals screen, include the necessary inputs to create backup points to disk, and click Next.

    In the example, Retention range is 5 days, Synchronization frequency is once every 15 minutes, which is the backup frequency. Express Full Backup is set to 8:00 P.M.

    Short-term goals


    In the example shown, at 8:00 PM every day a backup point is created by transferring the modified data from the previous day’s 8:00 PM backup point. This process is called Express Full Backup. Transaction logs are synchronized every 15 minutes. If you need to recover the database at 9:00 PM, the point is created from the logs from the last express full backup point (8PM in this case).

  7. On the Review disk allocation screen, verify the overall storage space available, and the potential disk space. Click Next.

  8. In the Choose Replica Creation Method, choose how to create your first recovery point. You can transfer the initial backup manually (off network) to avoid bandwidth congestion or over the network. If you choose to wait to transfer the first backup, you can specify the time for the initial transfer. Click Next.

    Initial replication method

    The initial backup copy requires transferring the entire data source (SQL Server database) from production server (SQL Server machine) to Azure Backup Server. This data might be large, and transferring the data over the network could exceed bandwidth. For this reason, you can choose to transfer the initial backup: Manually (using removable media) to avoid bandwidth congestion, or Automatically over the network (at a specified time).

    Once the initial backup is complete, the rest of the backups are incremental backups on the initial backup copy. Incremental backups tend to be small and are easily transferred across the network.

  9. Choose when you want the consistency check to run and click Next.

    Consistency check

    Azure Backup Server performs a consistency check on the integrity of the backup point. Azure Backup Server calculates the checksum of the backup file on the production server (SQL Server machine in this scenario) and the backed-up data for that file. If there is a conflict, it's assumed the backed-up file on Azure Backup Server is corrupt. Azure Backup Server rectifies the backed-up data by sending the blocks corresponding to the checksum mismatch. Because consistency checks are performance-intensive, you can schedule the consistency check or run it automatically.

  10. To specify online protection of the datasources, select the databases to be protected to Azure and click Next.

    Select datasources

  11. Choose backup schedules and retention policies that suit the organization policies.

    Schedule and Retention

    In this example, backups are taken once a day at 12:00 PM and 8 PM (bottom part of the screen)


    It’s a good practice to have a few short-term recovery points on disk, for quick recovery. These recovery points are used for operational recovery. Azure serves as a good offsite location with higher SLAs and guaranteed availability.

    Best Practice: If you schedule backups to Azure to start after the local disk backups complete, the latest disk backups are always copied to Azure.

  12. Choose the retention policy schedule. The details on how the retention policy works are provided at Use Azure Backup to replace your tape infrastructure article.

    Retention Policy

    In this example:

    • Backups are taken once a day at 12:00 PM and 8 PM (bottom part of the screen) and are retained for 180 days.
    • The backup on Saturday at 12:00 P.M. is retained for 104 weeks
    • The backup on Last Saturday at 12:00 P.M. is retained for 60 months
    • The backup on Last Saturday of March at 12:00 P.M. is retained for 10 years
  13. Click Next and select the appropriate option for transferring the initial backup copy to Azure. You can choose Automatically over the network

  14. Once you review the policy details in the Summary screen, click Create group to complete the workflow. You can click Close and monitor the job progress in Monitoring workspace.

    Creation of Protection Group In-Progress

On-demand backup of a SQL Server database

While the previous steps created a backup policy, a “recovery point” is created only when the first backup occurs. Rather than waiting for the scheduler to kick in, the steps below trigger the creation of a recovery point manually.

  1. Wait until the protection group status shows OK for the database before creating the recovery point.

    Protection Group Members

  2. Right-click on the database and select Create Recovery Point.

    Create Online Recovery Point

  3. Choose Online Protection in the drop-down menu and click OK to start creation of a recovery point in Azure.

    Create recovery point

  4. View the job progress in the Monitoring workspace.

    Monitoring console

Recover a SQL Server database from Azure

The following steps are required to recover a protected entity (SQL Server database) from Azure.

  1. Open the Azure Backup Server Management Console. Navigate to Recovery workspace where you can see the protected servers. Browse the required database (in this case ReportServer$MSDPM2012). Select a Recovery from time that is specified as an Online point.

    Select Recovery point

  2. Right-click the database name and click Recover.

    Recover from Azure

  3. MABS shows the details of the recovery point. Click Next. To overwrite the database, select the recovery type Recover to original instance of SQL Server. Click Next.

    Recover to Original Location

    In this example, MABS recovers the database to another SQL Server instance, or to a standalone network folder.

  4. In the Specify Recovery options screen, you can select the recovery options like Network bandwidth usage throttling to throttle the bandwidth used by recovery. Click Next.

  5. In the Summary screen, you see all the recovery configurations provided so far. Click Recover.

    The Recovery status shows the database being recovered. You can click Close to close the wizard and view the progress in the Monitoring workspace.

    Initiate recovery process

    Once the recovery is completed, the restored database is application consistent.

Next steps

See the Backup files and application article. See the Backup SharePoint on Azure Stack article.