Azure Data Box Disk: Frequently Asked Questions

The Microsoft Azure Data Box Disk cloud solution enables you to send terabytes of data to Azure in a quick, inexpensive, and reliable way. This FAQ contains questions and answers that you may have when you use Data Box Disks in the Azure portal.

Questions and answers are arranged in the following categories:

  • About the service
  • Configure and connect
  • Track status
  • Migrate data
  • Verify and upload data

About the service

Q. What is Azure Data Box service?

A. Azure Data Box service is designed for offline data ingestion. This service manages an array of products all tailored for data transport for differing storage capacities.

Q. What are Azure Data Box Disks?

A. The Azure Data Box Disks allow a quick, inexpensive, and secure transfer of terabytes of data into and out of Azure. Microsoft ships you 1 to 5 disks, with a maximum storage capacity of 35 TB. You can easily configure, connect, and unlock these disks via the Data Box service in Azure portal.

Disks are encrypted using Microsoft BitLocker drive encryption, and your encryption keys are managed on the Azure portal. You then copy the data from the customer’s servers. In the datacenter, Microsoft migrates your data from drive to cloud using a fast, private network upload link and uploads it to Azure.

Q. When should I use Data Box Disks?

A. If you have 40 TB of data (or less) that you want to transfer to Azure, you would benefit from using Data Box Disks.

Q. What is the price of Data Box Disks?

A. For information on the price of Data Box Disks, go to Pricing page.

Q. How do I get Data Box Disks?

A. To get Azure Data Box Disks, log into Azure portal and create a Data Box order for disks. Provide your contact information and notification details. Once you place an order, based on the availability, disks are shipped to you within 10 days.

Q. What is the maximum amount of data I can transfer with Data Box Disks in one instance?

A. For 5 disks each of 8 TB (7 TB usable capacity), the maximum usable capacity is 35 TB. Hence, you can transfer 35 TB of data in one instance. To transfer more data, you need to order more disks.

Q. How can I check if Data Box Disks are available in my region?

A. To see where the Data Box Disks are currently available, go to the Region availability.

Q. Which regions can I store data in with Data Box Disks?

A. Data Box Disk is supported for all regions within US, Canada, Australia, West Europe and North Europe, Korea and Japan. Only the Azure public cloud regions are supported. The Azure Government or other sovereign clouds are not supported.

Q. Will my Data Box Disk cross country borders during shipping?

A. Data Box Disk are shipped from within the same country as their destination and will not cross any international borders. The only exception is for orders in the European Union (EU), where disks can ship to and from any EU country.

Q. Whom should I contact if I encounter any issues with Data Box Disks?

A. If you encounter any issues with Data Box Disks, please contact Microsoft Support.

Configure and connect

Q. Can I specify the number of Data Box Disks in the order?

A. No. You get 8 TB disks (a maximum of up to 5 disks) depending upon your data size and availability of the disks.

Q. How do I unlock the Data Box Disks?

A. In the Azure portal, go to your Data Box Disk order, and navigate to Device details. Copy the passkey. Download and extract the Data Box Disk unlock tool from the Azure portal for your operating system. Run the tool on the computer that has the data you want to copy to the disks. Provide the passkey to unlock your disks. The same passkey unlocks all the disks.

For step-by-step instructions, go to Unlock disks on a Windows client or Unlock disks on a Linux client.

Q. Can I use a Linux host computer to connect and copy the data on to the Data Box Disks?

A. Yes. Both the Linux and Windows clients can be used to connect and copy data on to the Data Box Disks. For more information, go to the list of Supported operating systems for your host computer.

Q. My disks are dispatched but now I want to cancel this order. Why is the cancel button not available?

A. You can only cancel the order after the disks are ordered and before the shipment. Once the disks are dispatched, you can no longer cancel the order. However, you can return your disks at a charge.

Q. Can I connect multiple Data Box Disks at the same to the host computer to transfer data?

A. Yes. Multiple Data Box Disks can be connected to the same host computer to transfer data and multiple copy jobs can be run in parallel.

Track status

Q. How do I track the disks from when I placed the order to shipping the disks back?

A. You can track the status of the Data Box Disk order in the Azure portal. When you create the order, you are also prompted to provide a notification email. If you have provided one, then you are notified via email on all status changes of the order. More information on how to Configure notification emails.

Q. How do I return the disks?

A. Microsoft provides a shipping label with the Data Box Disks in the shipping package. Affix the label to the shipping box and drop off the sealed package at your shipping carrier location. If the label is damaged or lost, go to Overview > Download shipping label and download a new return shipping label.

Migrate data

Q. What is the maximum data size that can be used with Data Box Disks?

A. Data Box Disks solution can have up to 5 disks with a maximum usable capacity of 35 TB. The disks themselves are 8 TB (usable 7 TB).

Q. What are the maximum block blob and page blob sizes supported by Data Box Disks?

A. The maximum sizes are governed by Azure Storage limits. The maximum block blob is roughly 4.768 TiB and the maximum page blob size is 8 TiB. For more information, go to Azure Storage Scalability and Performance Targets.

Q. What is the data transfer speed for Data Box Disks?

A. When tested with disks connected via USB 3.0, the disk performance was up to 430 MB/s. The actual numbers vary depending upon the file size used. For smaller files, you may see lower performance.

Q. How do I know that my data is secure during transit?

A. Data Box Disks are encrypted using BitLocker AES-128 bit encryption and the passkey is only available in the Azure portal. Log into the Azure portal using your account credentials to get the passkey. Supply this passkey when you run the Data Box Disk unlock tool.

Q. How do I copy the data to the Data Box Disks?

A. Use an SMB copy tool such as Robocopy, Diskboss or even Windows File Explorer drag-and-drop to copy data onto disks.

Q. Are there any tips to speed up the data copy?

A. To speed up the copy process:

  • Use multiple streams of data copy. For instance, with Robocopy, use the multithreaded option. For more information on the exact command used, go to Tutorial: Copy data to Azure Data Box Disk and verify.
  • Use multiple sessions.
  • Instead of copying over network share (where you could be limited by the network speeds) ensure that you have the data residing locally on the computer to which the disks are connected.
  • Ensure that you are using USB 3.0 or later throughout the copy process. Download and use the USBView tool to identify the USB controllers and USB devices connected to the computer.
  • Benchmark the performance of the computer used to copy the data. Download and use the Bluestop FIO tool to benchmark the performance of the server hardware.

Q. How to speed up the data if the source data has small files (KBs or few MBs)?

A. To speed up the copy process:

  • Create a local VHDx on fast storage or create an empty VHD on the HDD/SSD (slower).
  • Mount it to a VM.
  • Copy files to the VM’s disk.

Q. Can I use multiple storage accounts with Data Box Disks?

A. No. Only one storage account, general or classic, is currently supported with Data Box Disks. Both hot and cool blob are supported. Currently, only the storage accounts in US, West Europe, and North Europe in the Azure public cloud are supported.

Q. What is the toolset available for my data with Data Box Disks?

A. The toolset available with the Data Box Disk contains three tools:

  • Data Box Disk Unlock tool: Use this tool to unlock the encrypted disks that are shipped from Microsoft. When unlocking the disks using the tool, you need to provide a passkey available in the Data Box Disk order in the Azure portal.
  • Data Box Disk Validation tool: Use this tool to validate the size, format, and blob names as per the Azure naming conventions. It also generates checksums for the copied data which are then used to verify the data uploaded to Azure.
  • Data Box Disk Split Copy tool: Use this tool when you are using multiple disks and have a large dataset that needs to be split and copied across all the disks. This tool is currently available for Windows. This tool is not supported with managed disks. This tool also validates as it copies the data, hence you can skip the validation step when using this tool.

The toolset is available both for Windows and Linux. You can download the toolset here:

Q. Can I use Data Box Disk to transfer data to Azure Files and then use the data with Azure File Sync?

A. Azure Files are supported with Data Box Disk but will not work well with Azure File Sync. Metadata is not retained if the file data is used with Azure File Sync.

Verify and upload

Q. How soon can I access my data in Azure once I’ve shipped the disks back?

A. Once the order status for Data Copy shows as complete, you should be able to access your data right away.

Q. Where is my data located in Azure after the upload?

A. When you copy the data under BlockBlob and PageBlob folders on your disk, a container is created in the Azure storage account for each subfolder under the BlockBlob and PageBlob folder. If you copied the files under BlockBlob and PageBlob folders directly, then these are in a default container $root under the Azure Storage account. When you copy the data into a folder under AzureFile folder, a fileshare is created.

Q. I just noticed that I did not follow the Azure naming requirements for my containers. Will my data fail to upload to Azure?

A. If the container names have uppercase letter, then those are automatically converted to lowercase. If the names are not compliant in other ways (special characters, other languages and so on), the upload will fail. For more information, go to Azure naming conventions.

Q. How do I verify the data I copied onto multiple Data Box Disks?

A. After the data copy is complete, you can run DataBoxDiskValidation.cmd provided in the DataBoxDiskImport folder to generate checksums for validation. If you have multiple disks, you need to open a command window per disk and run this command. Keep in mind that this operation can take a long time (~hours) depending upon the size of your data.

Q. What happens to my data after I have returned the disks?

A. Once the data copy to Azure is complete, the data from the disks is securely erased as per the NIST SP 800-88 Revision 1 guidelines.

Q. How is my data protected during transit?

A. The Data Box Disks are encrypted with AES-128 Microsoft BitLocker encryption. These require a single passkey to unlock all the disks and access data.

Q. Do I need to rerun checksum validation if I add more data to the Data Box Disks?

A. Yes. If you decide to validate your data (we recommend you do!), you need to rerun validation if you added more data to the disks.

Q. I used all my disks to transfer data and need to order more disks. Is there a way to quickly place the order?

A. You can clone your previous order. Cloning creates the same order as before and allow you to edit order details only without the need to type in address, contact, and notification details.

Q. I copied data to ManagedDisk folder. I don't see any managed disks with the resource group specified for managed disks. Was my data uploaded to Azure and how can I locate it?

A. Yes. Your data was uploaded to Azure but if you don't see any managed disks with the specified resource groups, it is likely because the data was not valid. If the page blobs, block blobs, Azure Files, and managed disks were not valid, these would go to the following folders:

  • Page blobs would go to a block blob container starting with databoxdisk-invalid-pb-.
  • Azure Files would go to a block blob container starting with databoxdisk-invalid-af-.
  • Managed disks would go to a block blob container starting with databoxdisk-invalid-md-.

Next steps