Offsite backup

How to create file backup on Windows 10 using Azure

Microsoft Azure offers a reliable offsite file backup for Windows 10 devices, and in this guide, you'll learn to set up the entire process.

Azure backup on Windows 10

On Windows 10, you can use many tools and services to backup your data off your computer, but if you’re a content creator or you have important data that you want to protect long-term, then you should consider using Azure backup services.

Azure is a paid cloud service from Microsoft, and among a slew of services aimed for organizations, it also offers backup and restore services that anyone can use to reliably protect data offsite whether you’re using Windows Server or Windows 10.

In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to successfully set up and create an offsite backup using the Azure Backup service on Windows 10.

How to create a Recovery Service Vault on Azure

The process to create an offsite backup is a four-step process, which starts with the creation of a Recovery Service Vault, which is a required step as it defines the container that will store your data.

To create a new Recovery Service Vault on Azure, use these steps:

  1. Open the Azure portal on your web browser. (If you don’t have an account, you can start free here.)

  2. Click on All services on the left pane.

  3. Search for Recovery Services vaults and click the top result.

    Azure portal service search
    Azure portal service search
  4. Click the Add button on the top-left.

    Recovery Services Vault page
    Recovery Services Vault page
  5. Type a descriptive name for your vault. For example, MyVault.

  6. Select the subscription (if you have more than one subscription).

  7. Select the Resource group option.

    Important: If you don’t have one, click the Create new option, type a name (such as MyResourceGroup), and click the OK button. A resource group is a container that holds related resources for an Azure solution.
  8. Select the location where to store the backup. (It’s always recommended to select the closest to your location.)

  9. Click the Create button.

    Create Recovery Services vault on Azure
    Create Recovery Services vault on Azure

Once you’ve completed the steps, the Recovery Service Vault will be created, and you can proceed to set up a new backup service.

How to set up a backup service on Azure

To configure a backup using Microsoft Azure services, use these steps:

  1. Open the Azure portal on your web browser.

  2. Click on All services on the left pane.

  3. Search for Recovery Services vaults and click the top result.

  4. Click the recently created vault from the list.

  5. Click the Backup option, under the “Getting started” section, on the left pane.

  6. Using the “Where is your workload running?” drop-down menu, select the On-Premises option.

  7. Using the “What do you want to backup?” drop-down menu, select the Files and folders option.

  8. Click the Prepare Infrastructure button.

    Creating a backup service on Azure
    Creating a backup service on Azure

After completing the steps, the backup service will be created, and you can proceed to download, install, and configure the agent on your local computer to backup your data offsite.

How to install Azure Backup Agent on Windows 10

To install the Azure Backup Agent and register your device in the cloud service, use these steps:

  1. Click the Download Agent for Windows Server or Windows Client link.

  2. Check the Already downloaded or using the latest Recovery Service Agent option.

  3. Click the Download button.

    Downloading Azure backup agent and registration file
    Downloading Azure backup agent and registration file
  4. Double-click the MARSAgentInstaller.exe file.

  5. Click the Next button.

  6. Click the Next button again.

  7. Select the Use Microsoft Update when I check for updates option.

    Azure backup setup using Microsoft update
    Azure backup setup using Microsoft update
  8. Click the Next button.

  9. Click the Install button.

  10. Click the Proceed to Registration button.

    Azure backup setup launch registration
    Azure backup setup launch registration
  11. Click the Browse button.

  12. Open the registration file that you downloaded on step No. 3.

  13. Click the Next button.

  14. Click the Generate Passphrase button to generate a code to encrypt and decrypt your data.

    Azure backup encryption data process
    Azure backup encryption data process
  15. Click the Browse button.

  16. Select a location to save the file that will include your generated passphrase.

    Warning: If you lose this file, you won’t be able to recover your data and Microsoft won’t be able to help. It’s recommended to save this file in an external location.
  17. Click the Close button.

Once you’ve completed the steps, your computer will register with Azure, and then you can proceed to configure your first backup job.

How to set up a file backup to Azure on Windows 10

To create a file backup from your Windows 10 device to Azure, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.

  2. Search for Microsoft Azure Backup and click the top result to open the experience.

  3. Click the Action menu.

  4. Select the Schedule Backup option.

    Schedule Azure backup on Windows 10
    Schedule Azure backup on Windows 10
  5. Click the Next button.

  6. Click the Add items button.

    Select files to backup on Azure
    Select files to backup on Azure
  7. Select the files and folder that you want to store in the cloud.

  8. Click the OK button.

    Quick Tip: If you’re selecting a folder with content that you don’t wish to backup, you can use the Exclusion Settings button to remove the items.
  9. Click the Next button.

  10. Select the schedule for the backup. (You can select the Day for daily backups, or you can use the Week option to select which days of the week the file backup should run.)

  11. Select the times when the backup should run.

    Azure backup schedule settings
    Azure backup schedule settings
  12. Click the Next button.

  13. Select the retention policy for daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly recovery points. (If you’re not sure about this configuration, use the default settings, just bear in mind that the more copies you keep the more resources will be used.)

    Azure backup retention policy settings
    Azure backup retention policy settings
  14. Click the Next button.

  15. Select the Automatically over the network option. (The “Offline Backup” option is a good option if you have a large amount of data and you want to speed up the backup process by making a copy locally and then send it to Azure.)

    Azure initial backup type settings
    Azure initial backup type settings
  16. Click the Next button.

  17. Click the Finish button.

Once you’ve completed the steps, the files and folders you selected will backup to the Azure servers on the schedule specified automatically. If you ever run into an issue, you can use these instructions to restore one or multiple files from an existing Azure backup on Windows 10.

If the first backup won’t startup until a later day, it’s recommended to trigger the first backup manually using the Back Up Now button from the Actions menu in the Microsoft Azure Backup console. This will not only test that everything is working, but it’ll ensure that your data is backed up as soon as possible.

To use Microsoft Azure services, you’ll need a subscription, but if you don’t want to commit, there’s a pay-as-go option and you only get charged for the resources you use with no termination fees or up-front cost.

Also, if you’re a Microsoft MVP, remember that you get free credits to use Azure services, including for backup and restore devices and data.

While we’re focusing this guide on Windows 10, you can use the same steps on Windows Server 2016, 2012, and even 2008.