Windows Server 8: Microsoft Online Backup Service

What?  You’re kidding, right?  Nope: Microsoft is adding online backup to Windows Server 8.  From the guide:

Microsoft Online Backup Service is an installable service for Windows Server “8” Beta, which allows for file and folder backups to the cloud service

It’s basically an offsite backup solution to the cloud using a Microsoft Online Backup Service Agent.  It provides:

… file and folder backup capabilities for Windows Server “8” Beta computers

It cannot backup system state.  That’s OK.  I’ve worked in in online backup and when people backup everything and see the first invoice for space consumed, well, they quickly decide that business data backup/recovery will be enough.

Access to Microsoft Online Backup Service is limited at first to successful applicants.  The installation:

… is a two-part process, which requires the creation of an online Microsoft Online Services account (not required for BETA since ids are pre-provisioned) and installation of the client components (agent) for the Microsoft Online Backup Service feature. The Microsoft Online Backup Service Agent installer download is located on the Microsoft Connect Site

The backup can be configured via Computer Management or via PowerShell cmdlets:


Data is encrypted using a passphrase of your choosing or auto generated (minimum of 16 characters). I love that: passphrase.  MSFT has no record of the passphrase and therefore cannot restore your data for you if you lose the passphrase.

The following table lists the supported list of file and folder attributes/types and the expected behavior of the Microsoft Online Backup Service when it encounters these types:

Attribute/type Supported Expected Behavior
Encrypted Yes Changes in file cause full file transfer
Compressed Yes Change in file cause delta transfer
Sparse Yes Changes in file cause delta transfer
Hard Links No Skipped
Reparse Point No Skipped
Encrypted + Compressed No Skipped
Encrypted + Sparse No Skipped
Compressed + Sparse Yes Backed up as sparse file
Compressed Stream No Saved as uncompressed stream
Sparse Stream No Discarded stream

You pick and choose files/folders just as you would with a normal backup.  You can have X backups per day (3 during beta) and set a retention period for your data (longer = more space = higher cost).

You can restore data using a familiar interface to the original server or another one from a backup of your choosing from within the retention window.  This will require credentials to access and the passphrase to decrypt.

Notes: I don’t see anything about data de-duplication or compression before backup, but that does not mean they are not there, just that this document doesn’t mention them.  I do not see anything for seeding large backups using an out of band device, such as I used when managing an Iron Mountain based service.  There is no mention of backing up Hyper-V VMs.  I think this would price this solution out but it might be an option for some.  I’ll try too find out more.

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