Windows 2008 Server Backup to cloud instead of external disk drive (USB)

an6543 used Ask the Experts™
Our Windows 2008 Server is currently backed up every night to external disk drive attached via USB cable (manually rotated) using Wbadmin, and we are considering a cloud solution.  Currently Wbadmin with daily full backup, starting at a time in the evening, is in place.


(1) The Wbadmin help states that the destination folder will be overwritten every time, and in case the backup fails, there may not be any backup available it all.  Consideration:  create 5 subfolders on cloud, one for every day of the week, create 5 entries in the task scheduler, with Wbadmin backing up to the respective subfolder.  Is this a viable option, or how is this done normally (assuming that multiple backups are maintained in case one of them fails)?  Since backups are to run at night, the process would need to be automated.

(2) How is the server-to-cloud connection established?  IPsec / VPN?  What must be done to assure access rights, and to assure the data can be restored to the server if necessary?
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Maybe this will help.

The key features of this solution are:

Reliable service: By adopting Azure Backup, you get a backup service which is highly available. The service is multi-tenanted and you do not have to worry about managing the underlying compute or storage.

Reliable storage: Azure Backup is built on top of reliable cloud storage which is backed by high SLAs. You do not have to worry about capital or operation expenses in maintaining the storage. Furthermore you have the choice of backing up to LRS (Locally Redundant Storage) or GRS (Geo Replication storage) storage. While LRS enables 3 copies of the data in the same geo which protects against local hardware failures; GRS provides 3 additional copies (a total of 6 copies) in a paired data center. This ensures that your backup data is highly available. Even if there is an Azure-site-level disaster, the backup data is safe with us.

Secure: Azure backup data is encrypted at source, during transmission and stored encrypted in Azure. The encryption key is stored at source and is never transmitted or stored in Azure. The encryption key is required to restore any of the data and only the customer has full access to the data in the service.

Offsite protection: Rather than paying for offsite tape backup solutions, customers can backup to Azure which provides a compelling solution with tape-like-semantics at a very low cost.

Simplicity: Azure Backup provides a familiar interface that can scale to protect a deployment of any size. As the service evolves, features like central management will allow you to manage your backup infrastructure from a single location.

Cost effective: Azure Backup pricing includes a per-instance backup management fee and cost of storage (block blob price) consumed on Azure. Unlike other cloud based backup offering, Azure Backup does not charge its customers for any restore operation. Furthermore, customers are not charged for any egress (outbound) data transfer cost during a restore operation.
Here's the FAQ.
Of course there is the problem of not having ultra high speed outbound internet service in which case Mondays backup will finish  sometime in July.......
How many Gigs are you backing up and what is your outbound internet speed?
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Last backup via Wbadmin transferred almost 550GB (I am not sure if this is before or after data compression).  Actual VDSL transfer rate is approximately 18 Mbit/s (capacity 50Mbit/s).  Even if the entire bandwidth were available for upload, my calculations are that it would take 344 hours to complete the backup.  If download is 5x faster than upload, then it would take 1.720 hours to complete.

That brings me to the second question - is cloud backup over VDSL even a consideration here?  Or is this technology only suited for those with very high speed internet access, or with a very limited amount of data that needs to be backed up regularly?  Maybe these companies have certain storage-intensive applications (ie. Microsoft Exchange) already running in a cloud environment, which would reduce the amount of backup data being transferred.
Things to consider
1. Speed - how fast is the link & how much data , factor in 10 bits per byte for link capacity
2. If data is static consider switching to incrementals forever, BUT remember you have to seed the cloud first.
3. If you need to restore how long will it take (see points 1 & 2)
4. What if your telco provider has issues or goes bust
5. What if your ISP has issues or goes bust
6. What if your cloud provider has issues or goes bust
7. Will the solution scale
Wish I had seen your reply before I composed all that on my phone

Re volume, see my comments on "incrementals forever"
Over a decade ago, I benchmarked a FIOS connection in a suburb of D.C. at 5,500 Mega Bytes per second which would make a huge difference, huh?
Personally, I'd probably take a slightly older PC, add a 1TB internal drive & a gigabit NIC, set it up to be the server's target for backups, then let it rotate through external USB drives at its leisure.
Backing up to the cloud is a good solution if you have the the following in place:

1. A strong consistent internet connection
2. A dependable Cloud Backup vendor that is there for support if/when you need it (24x7?)
3. Fast web connection allowing you to restore files quickly while your company waits for it.
4. A secure application from the vendor allowing a VPN or other level of security for your backups.
5. A budget to support the services mentioned above.

If you have all those in place, then you are ready for a Cloud Backup.

Hope this helps!
I consider Cloud Backup as secondary or tertiary backup.  It should not be your primary or sole backup.  It takes too much time, even if you have 100 Mbps Fiber connections.  Unless your backup is very small, it's going to take a long time.  The local networks can go over 10GB iSCSi to Fiber Channel SSD RAID.  You can do something like hourlies or dailies to local space, keeping only a few, then copy that to your cloud storage service, keeping many more copies of older copies.

You should back up to local storage first.  Once that's done, then duplicate that data to the cloud, slowly.  Backing up to the cloud is for off site security.  You can still do off site backups by duplicating your data to another set of disks and taking those off site and swapping them every week.  For really long term backup, you really should consider tape and getting a service that will pick them up for off site storage.

I've backed up several TB of data, and even when done to local disks, those can take several days for the first copy.

Is that 550 GB of data a single copy?  Is it several dailies?  If it's a single copy, that 18 Mbps VDSL isn't sufficient for you needs.  If it's several daily backups, you can still back up to the cloud.

You'll need to deduplicate that data for multiple dailies.  That should reduce your total backup time over the 18 Mbps connection.  The first copy will take the longest time, but after the first copy, you'll only need to copy over the changes.  It can be done, but it will still be time consuming and it can't be your primary backup.

You should consider whether the cloud connection speed is equivalent to the speed of tapes or disk put into a car and driven off site.  What's the time and cost to back up and recover that older data?  How critical is it to recover that older data?  How long can you remain down during a catastrophic local failure?  Primary backup must still be done locally, and cloud backup is your off site contingency against local site failure, such as a fire destroying everything on site.

There are several cloud services available, and you should choose the one the works best for you.
Here's a few options to look into:
Azure, as mentioned above.
Amazon S3 storage instances.
Spideroak, which provides encrypted services.
Mega, which also provides encryption.

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