A quick look at Instant File Restore in an Azure VM…

Instant File Restore directly from an Azure VM is a feature release that caught my eye recently. I remember being excited in the early days with on-premises virtualisation when backup companies, e.g. Veeam introduced the ability to mount VM backups and access the file system directly, thus allowing a quick restore and always thought it was a handy feature. Granted, it does not (always) replace proper In-VM backups of the application or service however it does provide a quick and easy way to restore a file/config, etc.

The feature went GA a couple of days ago, however the portal still has it as in-preview. More info can be found on the Azure Blog Post:

https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/instant-file-recovery-from-azure-vm-backups-is-now-generally-available/

To start with you need an Azure Virtual Machine and some files you’d like to protect. I’ve created a simple VM from the marketplace running 2016 Datacentre. I created some test files on one of the disks:

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You’ll then need to log into the Azure Portal, and you’ll need to have a Recovery Vault already configured with the virtual machine you want to protect added. The following screenshot shows the virtual machine ‘azurebackuptest’ added to the Recovery Vault:

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If you do not have your machine added, then use the ‘Add’ button, and choose a backup policy. You now need to ensure you have a ‘restore point’ from which you can recover.

I’m now going to go back to my virtual machine and ‘permanently delete’ some files (so they’re gone from the recycle bin, too), as  you can see from the following screenshot:

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We now have a virtual machine with missing files that’d we’d ordinarily need to recover from an In-VM backup agent – however we’ll use the File Recovery tools. Navigate to the vault again and choose ‘File Recovery (preview)’:

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From here you need to select your recovery point, and download the executable.. it can take a minute or two to generate. Once you’ve downloaded the .exe, ‘unmount disks’ will flag up:

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Now simply run the .exe file on the  machine where you’d like the disks to be mounted so you can copy them off. The exe will launch PowerShell and mount the disks as iSCSI targets (disconnecting any previous connections if you have any):

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You can now browse the mounted disk and recover the files that were deleted earlier:

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Once complete, remember to kill the PowerShell session as indicated in the previous screenshot, and don’t forget to click ‘unmount’ disks from the Azure Console:

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That’s it! A straight forward feature but one that can be very handy occasionally and starts to bring even more parity between Azure and equivalent on-premises capabilities.