Microsoft Azure Backup Agent

Microsoft Azure Backup Agent

In this Azure tutorial, we will discuss Microsoft Azure Backup Agent. Along with this, we will also discuss the below topics.

  • About the MARS agent
  • The backup process for MARS Agent
  • Supported operating systems for MARS Agent
  • Backup Size limits
  • The Supported file types for backup
  • Create a Recovery Services vault
  • Modify storage replication type
  • MARS Agent Download
  • Install and register the MARS agent
  • Create a backup policy using MARS agent
  • Enable network throttling
  • Run an on-demand backup using MARS agent
  • Azure backup on-premise
  • Azure VM Backup

Microsoft Azure Backup Agent

Well, let’s discuss Microsoft Azure Backup Agent. Azure Backup agent is also known as Microsoft Azure Recovery Services (MARS) agent. First just to confirm you, Azure Backup agent and Microsoft Azure Recovery Services (MARS) agent are the same.

About the MARS agent

When you are choosing the Azure Backup to back up your files, folders from On-premises machines, and Azure VMs, it actually uses the MARS agent to do this. Then after it stores the backups in a Recovery Services vault in Azure.

The MARS agent can directly run on the Windows machines that help back up directly to the Recovery Services vault in Azure.

It can also directly run on the Windows virtual machines that help to directly back up to the Recovery Services vault in Azure.

The Microsoft Azure Recovery Services (MARS) agent supports different backup scenarios like below.

  • Files and Folders: The Microsoft Azure Backup Agent can protect the files and folder of your Windows Machine.
  • Volume Level: The MARS agent can protect the Windows volume of your machine.
  • System Level: It can also protect the whole System state of your Windows machine.

The same way the Microsoft Azure Backup Agent supports different restore scenarios both for the same server and alternate server like below.

  • Files and Folders
  • Volume Level
  • System Level

The backup process for MARS Agent

Let’s discuss the overall backup process for the Microsoft Azure Recovery Services (MARS) agent.

  1. The first process is that Create a Recovery Services vault using Azure Portal and then choose the files, folder that you decided for the backup.
  2. Then the next step is to download the MARS agent installer and Recovery services vault credentials in the On-premises machine
  3. Now install the MARS agent and register the machine with the Recovery Services vault with the vault credentials that you have downloaded at the above step.
  4. Now finally configure the backup with all the details like what to backup, the time of backup, etc from the MARS agent console.

The Microsoft Azure Backup Agent can run for the different types of backup like the Initial Backup, Incremental backups, Backup job in optimized mode, etc.

This is the overall backup process for the MARS Agent.

Supported operating systems for MARS Agent

Let’s discuss the list of operating systems that are supported by the Microsoft Azure Recovery Services (MARS) agent. The first thing is the operating systems must be 64 bit and should be updated with the latest services packs and updates

Below are the details on the Operating systems supported

OS NameFiles/foldersSystem state
Windows 10 YesNo
Windows 8.1YesNo
Windows 8 YesNo
Windows Server 2016YesYes
Windows Server 2012 R2YesYes
Windows Storage Server 2016/2012 R2/2012YesNo
Windows Server 2019YesYes

These are the supported operating system details. For more information on this, you can visit to Microsoft official site.

Backup Size limits

There is some limit on the size of a file or folder data source that you can take backup from a single volume.

Below are the different size limit based on the operating system

OS NameSize limit
Windows Server 201254,400 GB
Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and SP2 and Windows 71,700 GB
Windows 8 or later54,400 GB

The Supported file types for backup

Not all the file types are supported for the backup using the MARS Agent. The file types that are supported for the backup are Encrypted, Compressed, Sparse, etc.

The file types that are not supported are Hard links, Reparse point, Encrypted and sparse, Compressed stream, etc. During the backup process if it will find these types of files, then it will just skip them.

The drives or volumes that are not supported for the backup are Read-only drive, Offline drive, Network share drive, Removable media, etc.

These are the different file types and drive types that are supported and not supported for the backup with the MARS Agent.

Now moving to the next section, Before you start the actual backup process, you need to make sure few of the important things

  • Ensure you have an Azure account that you need for the backup. If you don’t have an Azure account create a free Azure Account.
  • Make sure that, internet access is there for that machine that you want to take backup.
  • The user who has performed the installation and configuration of the MARS agent must have local administrator privilege for that server.

Now the next step is to create a Recovery Services vault that we need to take the backup with the help of Microsoft Azure Backup Agent.

Create a Recovery Services vault

A Recovery Services vault works like an interface to perform the backup related operations. Below are the steps to create a Recovery Services vault.

Step-1: Login to Azure Portal (https://portal.azure.com/)

Step-2: After login to Azure Portal, Now click on the All services option from the left side menu.

Create a Recovery Services vault

Now for the next steps, follow my article to create a Recovery Services vault. Once you will follow this article, you will be able to create the Recovery services vault-like below. My new Recovery services vault is now created with the name MyNewVault.

Create a Recovery Services vault in Azure

Now Assuming your Recovery Services vaults is created. Then the next step is to modify the storage replication type.

Modify storage replication type

By default when you have created a Recovery Services vault, the storage replication type is Geo-redundant. You can change it to the Locally-redundant to save some cost.

You can refer to my Article to Modify storage replication type. check out the Set storage redundancy for the services vault section of the article to modify the same.

MARS Agent Download

Now the next step is to download the MARS agent and install it on the machine that you want to take the backup.

To download the MARS agent, you can follow the below steps to download the MARS agent from the Azure Portal.

Step-1: Login to Azure Portal (https://portal.azure.com/)

Step-2: Navigate to the Recovery Services vault, you created above, click on the Backup link under Getting started section on the Recovery Services Vault page.

Download the MARS agent

Step-3: Select the Where is your workload running? option as On-premises and select the What do you want to backup? option as Files and folder and you can also select the System State

download latest mars agent

Step-4: Now click on the Prepare Infrastructure button.

azure backup mars agent download

Step-5: Click on the Download Agent for Windows Server or Windows Client link under the Install Recovery Services agent option.

mars agent latest version

Step-6: Click on the Save button to save the installer in your local machine

download mars agent installer

Select the Already downloaded or using the latest Recovery Services Agent option under Download vault credentials to register the server to the vault. Vault credentials will expire after 2 days option and then click on the Download button.

mars agent update

Now click on the Save button to save the Vault credentials file in your local system path.

mars agent download

This is how we can download the MARS agent and the Vault credentials using the Microsoft Azure Portal. Now the time to install the register the MARS agent.

Install and register the MARS agent

Well, now let’s discuss How to Install and register the MARS agent that we downloaded following the above steps using the Azure Portal. Follow the below steps to install and register the MARS agent.

Step-1: Run the MARSagentinstaller.exe file that you have downloaded following the above steps on the machines that you want to back up.

Install and register the MARS agent

Step-2: In the Microsoft Azure Recovery Services Agent Setup Wizard, select Installation Settings. There, choose where to install the MARS agent, and choose a Cache location. Then select Next.

install mars agent

Step-3: On the Proxy Configuration tab, specify how the agent will connect to the internet. Make sure it will show you you are connected to internet, Then select Next.

You can choose a custom proxy settings also But the MARS agent should able to access the needed URLs.

Step-4: For the Microsoft Update option, you can select the Use Microsoft Update when I check for updates(recommended) option and then click on the Next button.

mars agent silent install

Step-5: Now click on the Install button.

how to install MARS agent

Step-6: Now you can see it installed the MARS agent successfully without any issue. Now click on the Proceed to Registration button to register the MARS agent.

mars agent installation

Step-7: In the Register Server Wizard, browse the Vault credential file that you have downloaded using the above section then select the Next button.

how to Install and register the MARS agent

Step-8: On the Encryption Setting page, specify a passphrase or you can click on the Generate Passphrase button, that will be used to deal with the backup data. Save the Passphrase into a secure location.that you need to restore the backup data.

Note: One important thing to note down here is If you lose the passphrase, Microsoft can’t help you recover your backup data.

Now click on the Finish button.

how to register the MARS agent

Step-9: Now you will get the below warning since you are storing your Passphrase in your local machine, Click on the Yes button to proceed.

How to register the MARS agent with Vault credentials

Step-10: Now the Registration is successfully completed.

How to install and register the MARS agent with Vault credentials

Now since we have checked the option to Launch Microsoft Azure Recovery Services Agent option, so it will open the Azure Recovery Services Agent window. Now click on the Schedule Backup option to configure the Backup details.

How to register the MARS agent with Vault credentials

This is the way, by following the above steps and processes, we can Install and register the MARS agent.

Create a backup policy using MARS agent

Now we are done with Installation and registration of the MARS agent. The next step is to create a backup policy.

Basically, the backup policy is something that specifies the timeline to take the snapshots of the data to create the recovery points. We can use the MARS agent that we installed and configured using the above steps to create the backup policy.

Well, follow the below steps to create the backup policy

Step-1: The first step is to search for Microsoft Azure Backup in your computer and then open that app.

create a backup policy mars agent

Step-2: Now the below Microsoft Azure Backup application will open.

MARS agent backup policy

Step-3: Under Actions, click on the Schedule Backup option.

how to create backup policy mars

Step-4: On the Schedule Backup Wizard, on the Getting started tab, click on the Next button to continue

create backup policy mars 2020

Step-5: On the Select Items to Backup tab, click on the Add Items to add the items you want to backup.

how to create backup policy mars 2020

Step-6: On the Select Items box, select items you want to take back up, and then select OK.

how to create backup policy using mars 2020

Step-7: You have selected the item you want to take backup on the Select items to Backup window. Now click on the Next button.

how to create backup policy using mars

Step-8: Specify the backup Schedule i.e when to take daily or weekly backups on the Specify Backup Schedule page, then select Next.

Below I have mentioned taking two times per day but you can specify a maximum of 3 times per day. Based on your requirement, you can select the timing and frequency of your backup.

create backup policy using mars

Step-9: You can Schedule weekly backups too. In the below example, backups are taken every alternate Monday at 11:00 AM and 4:30 PM.

create a new backup policy

Step-10: Mention how to store historical copies of your data on the Select Retention Policy page, then select the  Next button.

In the below example

  • Daily backups at 4:30 PM are kept for 180 days.
  • The Backups are taken on Monday at 4:30 PM are kept for 108 weeks.
  • Backups are taken on the last Monday of the week at 4:30 PM are kept for 60 months.
  • The Backups are taken on the last Monday in March are kept for 10 years.
create a new backup policy mars

Step-11: On the Choose Initial Backup Type (Files and Folders) page, select the Online option or you can also choose the Offline option. Then click on the Next button.

how to schedule backup using mars 2020

Step-12: On the Confirmation page, review the information and then click on the Finish button.

how to schedule backup using mars

Step-13: Now you can see the Backup schedule has been created successfully with out any issue. Click on the Close button to close the wizard .

how to schedule backup mars

Enable network throttling

You can control the network bandwidth for the MARS agent by enabling the network throttling option. This option is available on Windows Server 2012 and later, and on Windows 8 and later operating systems.

To enable the the network throttling, follow the below steps

Click on the Change Properties under Actions menu from the MARS agent app.

Enable network throttling for MARS agent

On the Throttling tab, select the option Enable internet bandwidth usage throttling for backup operations and then click on the Ok button.

how to enable network throttling for MARS agent

You can see below the server properties updated successfully. Click on the Ok button.

how to enable network throttling for MARS

This is how you can create a backup policy using MARS agent by following the above steps.

Run an on-demand backup using MARS agent

Follow the below steps to set up the on-demand backup using the MARS agent.

Step-1: The first step is to search for Microsoft Azure Backup in your computer and then open that app.

Run an on-demand backup

Step-2: Now the below Microsoft Azure Backup application will open.

set up run an on-demand backup

Step-3: Select Back Up Now option under Backup from the Actions menu in the MARS agent.

how to set up run an on-demand backup

Step-4: On the Retain Backup Till page, select the date and click on the Next button.

run an on-demand mars 2020

Step-5: Now review the settings and select the Back Up button on the Confirmation page

Step-6: Click on the Close button to close the wizard.

If you have a requirement to take the back up immediately this is how you can run an on-demand backup using the MARS agent by following the above steps.

Azure backup on-premise

An internet connection is used to connect to Azure Backup or Blob Storage If you want to back up the data from the On-premises systems to Azure. Azure Backup can directly also write backups to Azure.

As an alternate option, you can also host the Veeam at your On-premises that can help to write backups directly to the Blob storage directly.

This solution consists of the below three components

  • Backup Server: Backup server deals with the backup of machines and it manages the configuration of the restore processes.
  • Azure Backup: Azure Backup service runs on the cloud and it holds the recovery points, also helps to enforce policies, and finally enables you to manage data and application protection.
  • Blob Storage: You need to create and manage Azure Blob storage while you are choosing the partner solutions for backing up the data.

Azure VM Backup

You can also configure the Azure Virtual Machine Backup option using the Azure Portal. You can follow my article to configure the Azure virtual machine back up option.

You may like following the below Azure tutorials:

Conclusion

Well, In this Azure tutorial, we discussed Microsoft Azure Backup Agent, About the MARS agent, The backup process for MARS Agent, Supported operating systems for MARS Agent, Backup Size limits, The Supported file types for backup. Along with this we also discuss the whole process of configuring the backup from the On-premises environment to the Azure using the Microsoft Azure Backup Agent i.e Create a Recovery Services vault, Modify storage replication type, MARS Agent Download, Install and register the MARS agent, Create a backup policy using MARS agent, Enable network throttling, Run an on-demand backup using MARS agent and finally Azure backup on-premise, Azure VM Backup. Hope you enjoyed this Article !!!!

Leave a Comment