Quickstart: Create and manage Azure file shares with Windows virtual machines

The article demonstrates the basic steps for creating and using an Azure Files share. In this quickstart, the emphasis is on quickly setting up an Azure Files share so you can experience how the service works. If you need more detailed instructions for creating and using Azure file shares in your own environment, see Use an Azure file share with Windows.

If you don't have an Azure subscription, create a free account before you begin.

Applies to

File share type SMB NFS
Standard file shares (GPv2), LRS/ZRS Yes No
Standard file shares (GPv2), GRS/GZRS Yes No
Premium file shares (FileStorage), LRS/ZRS Yes No

Sign in to Azure

Sign in to the Azure portal.

Prepare your environment

In this quickstart, you set up the following items:

  • An Azure storage account and an Azure file share
  • A Windows Server 2016 Datacenter VM

Create a storage account

Before you can work with an Azure file share, you have to create an Azure storage account. A general-purpose v2 storage account provides access to all of the Azure Storage services: blobs, files, queues, and tables. The quickstart creates a general-purpose v2 storage account but, the steps to create any type of storage account are similar. A storage account can contain an unlimited number of shares. A share can store an unlimited number of files, up to the capacity limits of the storage account.

To create a general-purpose v2 storage account in the Azure portal, follow these steps:

  1. On the Azure portal menu, select All services. In the list of resources, type Storage Accounts. As you begin typing, the list filters based on your input. Select Storage Accounts.
  2. On the Storage Accounts window that appears, choose + New.
  3. On the Basics blade, select the subscription in which to create the storage account.
  4. Under the Resource group field, select your desired resource group, or create a new resource group. For more information on Azure resource groups, see Azure Resource Manager overview.
  5. Next, enter a name for your storage account. The name you choose must be unique across Azure. The name also must be between 3 and 24 characters in length, and may include only numbers and lowercase letters.
  6. Select a region for your storage account, or use the default region.
  7. Select a performance tier. The default tier is Standard.
  8. Specify how the storage account will be replicated. The default redundancy option is Geo-redundant storage (GRS). For more information about available replication options, see Azure Storage redundancy.
  9. Additional options are available on the Advanced, Networking, Data protection, and Tags blades. To use Azure Data Lake Storage, choose the Advanced blade, and then set Hierarchical namespace to Enabled. For more information, see Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2 Introduction
  10. Select Review + Create to review your storage account settings and create the account.
  11. Select Create.

The following image shows the settings on the Basics blade for a new storage account:

Screenshot showing how to create a storage account in the Azure portal.

Create an Azure file share

Next, you create a file share.

  1. When the Azure storage account deployment is complete, select Go to resource.

  2. Select File shares from the storage account pane.

    Select File shares.

  3. Select + File Share.

    Select + file share to create a new file share.

  4. Name the new file share qsfileshare, enter "1" for the Quota, leave Transaction optimized selected, and select Create. The quota can be a maximum of 5 TiB (100 TiB, with large file shares enabled), but you only need 1 GiB for this quickstart.

  5. Create a new txt file called qsTestFile on your local machine.

  6. Select the new file share, then on the file share location, select Upload.

    Upload a file.

  7. Browse to the location where you created your .txt file > select qsTestFile.txt > select Upload.

So far, you've created an Azure storage account and a file share with one file in it in Azure. Next you'll create the Azure VM with Windows Server 2016 Datacenter to represent the on-premises server in this quickstart.

Deploy a VM

  1. Next, expand the menu on the left side of the portal and choose Create a resource in the upper left-hand corner of the Azure portal.

  2. In the search box above the list of Azure Marketplace resources, search for and select Windows Server 2016 Datacenter.

  3. In the Basics tab, under Project details, select the resource group you created for this quickstart.

    Enter basic information about your VM in the portal blade.

  4. Under Instance details, name the VM qsVM.

  5. Leave the default settings for Region, Availability options, Image, and Size.

  6. Under Administrator account, add a Username and enter a Password for the VM.

  7. Under Inbound port rules, choose Allow selected ports and then select RDP (3389) and HTTP from the drop-down.

  8. Select Review + create.

  9. Select Create. Creating a new VM will take a few minutes to complete.

  10. Once your VM deployment is complete, select Go to resource.

At this point, you've created a new virtual machine and attached a data disk. Now you need to connect to the VM.

Connect to your VM

  1. Select Connect on the virtual machine properties page.

    Connect to an Azure VM from the portal

  2. In the Connect to virtual machine page, keep the default options to connect by IP address over port number 3389 and select Download RDP file.

  3. Open the downloaded RDP file and select Connect when prompted.

  4. In the Windows Security window, select More choices and then Use a different account. Type the username as localhost\username, where <username> is the VM admin username you created for the virtual machine. Enter the password you created for the virtual machine, and then select OK.

    More choices

  5. You may receive a certificate warning during the sign-in process. select Yes or Continue to create the connection.

Map the Azure file share to a Windows drive

  1. In the Azure portal, navigate to the qsfileshare fileshare and select Connect.

  2. Select a drive letter then copy the contents of the second box and paste it in Notepad.

    Screenshot that shows the contents of the box that you should copy and paste in Notepad.

  3. In the VM, open PowerShell and paste in the contents of the Notepad, then press enter to run the command. It should map the drive.

Create a share snapshot

Now that you've mapped the drive, you can create a snapshot.

  1. In the portal, navigate to your file share, select Snapshots, then select + Add snapshot.

    Select snapshots under the operations section, then select add snapshot.

  2. In the VM, open the qstestfile.txt and type "this file has been modified" > Save and close the file.

  3. Create another snapshot.

Browse a share snapshot

  1. On your file share, select Snapshots.

  2. On the Snapshots blade, select the first snapshot in the list.

    Selected snapshot in the list of time stamps

  3. Open that snapshot, and select qsTestFile.txt.

Restore from a snapshot

  1. From the file share snapshot blade, right-click the qsTestFile, and select the Restore button.

    Screenshot of the snapshot blade, qstestfile is selected, restore is highlighted.

  2. Select Overwrite original file.

    Screenshot of restore pop up, overwrite original file is selected.

  3. In the VM, open the file. The unmodified version has been restored.

Delete a share snapshot

  1. On your file share, select Snapshots.

  2. On the Snapshots blade, select the last snapshot in the list and select Delete.

    Screenshot of the snapshots blade, last snapshot selected, delete button highlighted.

Use a share snapshot in Windows

Just like with on-premises VSS snapshots, you can view the snapshots from your mounted Azure file share by using the Previous Versions tab.

  1. In File Explorer, locate the mounted share.

    Mounted share in File Explorer

  2. Select qsTestFile.txt and > right-click and select Properties from the menu.

    Right-click menu for a selected directory

  3. Select Previous Versions to see the list of share snapshots for this directory.

  4. Select Open to open the snapshot.

    Previous Versions tab

Restore from a previous version

  1. Select Restore. This action copies the contents of the entire directory recursively to the original location at the time the share snapshot was created.

    Restore button in warning message


    If your file has not changed, you will not see a previous version for that file because that file is the same version as the snapshot. This is consistent with how this works on a Windows file server.

Clean up resources

When you're done, you can delete the resource group. Deleting the resource group deletes the storage account, the Azure file share, and any other resources that you deployed inside the resource group.

  1. In the left menu, select Resource groups.
  2. Right-click the resource group, and then select Delete resource group. A window opens and displays a warning about the resources that will be deleted with the resource group.
  3. Enter the name of the resource group, and then select Delete.

Next steps