This weekend, while I was doing a routine systems checkup, I noticed a new feature in on the Windows Azure Management Portal. The Windows Azure teams have been hard at work and have provided us with the necessary tools to schedule backups of our Windows Azure SQL Databases. As you can observe from the screenshot below, the backup is essentially an export of our database that is stored a Windows Azure Storage Account.
The export process will produce a BACPAC containing the schema and the data from our database, which can be used to restore the database on-premise or in Windows Azure SQL Database.
To activate automatic backups of your Windows Azure SQL Database, navigate to its dashboard and go to the CONFIGURATION Section. You will be presented with the form from the screenshot found below. Select the AUTOMATIC option from the EXPORT STATUS section. Then select the storage account that will be used to store the exported BACPACs. Set the schedule and the the starting date. Be sure to set a RETENTION period that is acceptable for your business model and make sure that you always keep at least one backup. This is crucial, because if something goes wrong and the last back was deleted due to its age, you will be left with nothing. The last step is to enter the Windows Azure SQL Database SERVER LOGIN NAME and the SERVER LOGIN PASSWORD. Select Save and that’s it, you’ve got automatic backups for your production database.
Don’t worry about storing BACPACs in Windows Azure Blob Storage Service, it’s dirt cheap and the SQL Database Service is extremely efficient at compressing the data.
Screenshot from a test Windows Azure SQL Database: