The (dis)advantages of Cloud backup

Cloud backup (online data backup) is a service where data is remotely maintaned, managed and backed up. This service allows the use of storing backup files online, so that they can be accessed from any location due to the use of the internet.

More and more people are backupping their data to the Cloud. Many more people are thinking about it. What are the (dis)advantages?

Cloud backup

Difference between an offline/offsite back-up and a Cloud backup

A cloud backup uses storage in the cloud (provided by a Cloud storage provider) to store the data and is remotely accessible. An offsite backup is a copy of your local backup and is kept offline and offsite. When you have the need for the off-site back-up you have to pick up that storage device, mount it and/or do some configuration and then you are able to restore the data on it.

Disadvantages : the device (data) can be stolen, corrupted (no RAID usage for example), it takes time to use the storage because it’s offsite (you first have to collect the storage device)

Advantages are : data is offsite and any influences on that location (storm, theft, fire) is not appliacable. Data can’t be altered and is safe for malware and corruption.

Advantages of Cloud backups

  • Effeciency, usability and reliability
    Cloud backups are extremely reliable. Due to it being stored in a cloud environment, redundant config compensate for possible hardware corruption and facilitates improved data integrity
  • 24/7 monitoring
    Any decent Cloud storage provider has a 24×7 monitoring solution. So any flaws concering their (Cloud) service are noticed immediatly
  • Scalability & Accessibility
    You can easiliy up- and down scale (pay for usage) and the backup service can be accessed everywhere as long there is access to the internet.
  • Recovery time improvement
    You can increase your recovery time. Because everything is in place all the time. (You don’t have to load tapes etc) It’s as simple as a push on the button.
  • Disaster Recovery out of the box & accessibility.
    You don’t have to build a disaster recovery infrastructure. It’s right there for you to use. It’s important to keep a copy of your backup offsite. Even when all your local backups are in order, there could be a hurricane or flood which could prevent access to your servers. (Cloud backups are offsite too!)
  • Cost savings
    Business and organizations can often reduce operating cost by using cloud storage. But be aware, use of Cloud backup can be more expensive also.
    It’s important to use a solution that makes sense and won’t require to incur a capital expenditure.
  • Your Cloud partner or backup vendor takes care of things for you
    Most of the time it’s a simple one time configuration and afterwards you don’t have to pay any attention about configuring.
  • Protection against physical theft and natural disasters
    A tornado could hit your office, or you could be a victim of burglary of theft. Now you could still rest easy knowing that your personal data is safe offsite in the Cloud.

Disadvantages of Cloud backup

  • A full backup or recovery job can be too time-consuming
    Even if you’ve got a large bandwidth internet connection, it will almost certainly take some time to initially upload and backup your data.
    The same goes for restoring. Slow speeds are, without a doubt, the majority of people’s biggest gripe with online data backup.
  • Limitations of the amount of data that can be uploade to the cloud depending on bandwidth availability. You are completely reliant on your internet connection and on the connection of your Cloud provider. If your internet connection goes down, so does your ability to backup or restore data from the Cloud.
  • No direct control
    When you send your data up into the the Cloud you have less control over it than over the storage you have onsite.
  • Discontinuation of the service. Providers can stop their service
    This is one reason you can’t rely on Cloud storage only. You always need a local backup solution.  For legal reasons you (may) have to hold your backups for several years. What if your Cloud storage provider cancels their service? Then you have to rely on your local backups!
  • Bad or nonexistent service-level agreements
    If a solid agreements with the cloud storage provider is not in place, it could result in disappointment. Make sure your expectations and the provider’s capabilities are cleary spelled out in the contract.(SLA!!)
  • Datasecurity & encryption
    There are concerns with the safety and privacy of important data stored remotely.
    If a Cloud storage provider doesn’t follow adequate data security practices, your data will be exposed to greater risk than with off-site backups.  Any online backup provider worth mentioning will encrypt the data of its customers during both transmissiond and storage using high-level encryption algorothms such as AES or Blowfish, the same used by banks and government agencies. However some provider don’t use those technices and may expose as as security risk.

Conclusion

Backup to the Cloud is easily configured and often works like a charm. But don’t forget to investigate the different vendors and platforms (Amazon, Azure, Google etc) and check the support from your backup application (/solution). There are multiple vendors like for example Nakivo Backup & Replication. There are gigantic differences between costs, possibilities, liabilities and support.


File level restore on Azure

Making backups of virtual machines running on Azure using snapshot technology is a nice feature. But sometimes you don’t want to revert the whole snapshot but only want to restore a single file. Now this is possible. It uses the same backup/Snapshot technology you probably are already using.

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Open the virtual machine properties in the all resources tab. Choose the Back-up option.

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Go to the file level restore option. (more/upper right)

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Select the back-up set containing the file(s) you wish to restore. Then choose to download the script. Upload that script to your Virtual Machine. (winscp, copy/paste into nano/vi or any other way you choose to). It takes approx. 1 minute to generate and download the script.

Execute the script using bash <filename.sh>. First time the VM adds support for the iSCSI service which is required for mounting the back-upset. Choose Y for installation the iSCSI drivers and wait a few seconds. You see that entire back-upset is mounted. Now you can copy all the necessary files you need.

After you are ready, go to the Azure portal and choose to unmount the back-upset. Now you are all finished!


How to show (export) all devices synchronizing with your Office 365

For a MDM project I had to make an dump which users are using which devices to (active)sync with their Office 365 mailboxes. This is how I did that :

Get-Mailbox -ResultSize Unlimited | ForEach {Get-MobileDeviceStatistics -Mailbox:$_.Identity} | Select-Object @{label=”User” ; expression={$_.Identity}},DeviceModel,DeviceOS, lastsuccesssync | Export-csv F:\powershell\activesync.csv

Running the above command showed the following output (in a CSV file format):

As you can see you see the user, the device the user is using, the OS their device uses and last time that devices succesfully synchronized.

I used Excel to import the CSV and sort on LastSuccessSync.

Find out here how to connect to Office 365 using Powershell.


FreeNAS 9.10 Released (how to upgrade..)

FreeNAS 9.10 has just been released.

Based on FreeBSD 10.3, FreeNAS 9.10 combines hundreds of FreeBSD improvements with dozens of bug fixes and feature requests, while retaining the familiar user interface. Topping the list of FreeNAS 9.10 features are greater speed and scalability, dozens of new hardware drivers, USB 3.0 support, and the addition of the bhyve hypervisor.

Intel Skylake CPU and I219-V & I219-LM Gigabit Ethernet controller support stand out from a platform perspective and users can now use USB 3.0 storage and network controllers. FreeNAS plugin jails have been upgraded to FreeBSD 10.3 templates, which are binary compatible with existing jails. For the more adventuresome, FreeNAS 9.10 also includes FreeBSD’s bhyve hypervisor, opening the door to hosting virtual machines on FreeNAS with operating systems such as GNU/Linux and SmartOS.

For more information about FreeNAS 9.10, please see the forum announcement, release notes and change log. Current FreeNAS 9.3 users are encouraged to upgrade to FreeNAS 9.10 to stay current with the latest bug fixes and feature requests

You can easily upgrade to the latest version:

Logon to the management interface:

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Go to System/Update/Check now.

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Check the ChangeLog and choose to apply the updates.

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(Downloading and installing the updates)

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Finally FreeNAS has to reboot and in a couple of seconds you’re back online!


Nakivo Backup & Replication in depth review

Some time ago I wrote about Nakivo Backup & Replication, more info here. In this blogpost I’m going to write about some special features I especially like about Nakivo Backup & Replcation (NBR from this point on..)

Flash VM Boot

Flash VM Boot enables you to run (boot) VM’s directly from compressed and deduplicated VM backups without recovering the entire VM first. You don’t need any additional configuration and all changes don’t effect the backup  and are discarded when the VM is powered off. (You don’t have altered backup files)

Enabling Flash VM boot is very easy. Go to the recover menu and select Flash VM Boot.

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Select the VM

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After you click Finish & Run you see your Flash VM running on your VMware server. When the recovered VM is no longer needed, click Discard in the menu to power off and remove the VM.

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Like I mentioned all the changes are abonded. You are able to save your changes by replicating or backup this temporary VM.

Screenshot Backup verification

When you perform a back-up you want 100% confirmation that your backup is succesful. Nakivo Backup & Replication  (NBR) has a unique feature called Screenshot Backup Verification. This means that after a backup, NBR uses Flash VM boot to quickly mount and start (without network connectivity) the specific VM. After booting up the server, NBR takes a screenshot of the powered on VM and emails you that picture. The VM is then powered off. This way you see that the backup works. NBR uses iSCSI technology for mounting the backup files.

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Screenshot Verification can also be started on demand when you choose to.

Nakivo Virtual Appliance

It is very easy to deploy and configure the Nakivo Virtual appliance on your VMware server.After you download the OVF from the Nakivo website you can easily import that on your server.

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The benefits of deploying an OVF file is that a) it saves you a lot of time, b) you don’t have to spend so much time maintaining and patching your server and c) it’s ready to go. Just import it and it works! No need for configuring.

After importing the OVF file you can start the appliance.

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Configure the network settings, set the date/time and do a Software update. One remark : I updated the appliance using the CLI (it’s just Linux (Ubuntu) running) and afterwards I noticed bad network performance. When updating using the normal NBR interface everything worked fine. De default username/password is root/root. Don’t forget to change this! You can login to the appliance using https://<IP>:4443

 

 


Vembu BDR Suite 3.7.0 – Now also available as a free edition

Some time ago I wrote about Vembu BDR Suite here. Vembu just released Vembu BDR Suite 3.7.0. This latest version comes with many improvements like :

  • Accelerate backup performance with faster restores
  • Multitenancy for both Vembu BDR and Vembu Offsite DR servers. Very interesting for service providers and based on role based access. Customers can manager and monitor themselves using Group level web access which can be enabled.
  • New backend datase. PostgreSQL in stead of MongoDB and MySQL. This for better performance and less storage required
  • Improved scheduling options
  • Faster User Interface with a new location of some functions which improves handling
  • and now.. a Free Edition – Limited feature set but avaiable after the 30 day trial period at no cost.

More information:

The Free Edition is completely new and has the following included:

  • Support for VMware, Hyper-V, Windows Servers, Windows Workstation, File Backup
  • Support for backup to the Cloud using Vembu OnlineBackup
  • Agentless VMware Backup
  • vCenter level backup
  • Backup Multiple VM’s, full VM backup
  • Possibility to exclude particular VM or disk from backup configuration
  • Support for Direct SAN, Hot-Add and network transport mode
  • Application Aware Backup
  • Instant file recovery
  • Instant Granular Recovery for Microsoft Exchange, SQL, SharePoint and Active Directory!
  • Cross Hypervisor Migration (V2V)

As you see above it’s a pretty impressive list of components and features included in the free version. Obviously there are limitations so you can’t perform every action and configure all options in the free version. Based on your management, service level agreement (SLA), recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO) requirements you can easily determine if the free version is something for you based on this “Free vs Paid edition” comparison.

 

 


VMware OS Optimization tool

The VMware OS Optimization Tool helps optimize Windows 7/8/2008/2012/10 systems for use with the VMware Hypervisor. The optimization tool includes customizable templates to enable or disable Windows system services and features, per VMware recommendations and best practices, across multiple systems. Since most Windows system services are enabled by default, the optimization tool can be used to easily disable unnecessary services and features to improve performance.

You can perform the following actions using the VMware OS Optimization Tool:

  • Local Analyze/Optimize
  • Remote Analyze
  • Optimization History and Rollback
  • Managing Templates

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After scanning the system you can select/de-select several optimizations:

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You can even scan remote clients:

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And all the settings can be saved in a template, there are public templates (for example LoginVSI) available:

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I think this is a great tool what you can use to tune your VM’s. Use with caution!

More info here


Citrix Connection Quality Indicator

Description

In complex environments, where distributed applications are deployed across the network utilizing numerous physical servers and workstations, connectivity can be reduced in general and/or per session basis. Connection Quality Indicator is a tool which provides feedback to the user when the network has been impacted to the point that the user’s experience is degraded. Displaying this information to the end user will improve overall user experience and reduce the number of helpdesk calls for network related user experience issues.

How to use Connection Quality Indicator

CQI is launched on session startup and continues to run for the life of the session notifying the user of changes to network performance. Notifications are used by CQI to alert the user about network state. There are several types of notifications that a user can see while the tool is running, they are as follows:

The way the end user interacts with CQI when using a Published Desktop or Application is for the most part the same, however, there are some subtle differences. When using a Published Desktop, CQI notifications are displayed in two different areas, system tray and standard notifications.

For Published Applications, since there’s no desktop, only standard notifications are shown.  If more than one Published Application is in use within the same session, only the foreground application will display the notification.

More information here


Recommended WordPress Filesystem Security 1

For those people who are (also) running WordPress. Hereby the recommended filesystem security settings (for Linux servers running WordPress) :

Name Recommended Permissions
root directory 755
wp-includes/ 755
.htaccess 644
wp-admin/index.php 644
wp-admin/js/ 755
wp-content/themes/ 755
wp-content/plugins/ 755
wp-admin/ 755
wp-content/ 755
wp-config.php 644

Altaro VM Backup v7 (What’s new)

Some time ago I wrote about the V7 beta version here. Altaro released their final edition of v7 recently.
Some of the key features of version 7:
  • Support for Windows 2016
  • Augmented Inline Deduplication
  • Boot from Back-up
  • New interface/GUI (in comparison to v6)

Support for Windows 2016

With v7 Altaro officially supports (with enhanced security and scalability) Windows Server 2016. You will now be able to use all of the features when upgrading to the latest version of Windows Server.

Augmented Inline Deduplication

Altaro’s unique Augmented Inline Deduplication increases performance of back-ups and restores for on- and offsite backups by transferring using inline deduplication instead of afterwards. This not only saves time, but it also reduces the amount of storage needed to store te backups. I can’t wait to test this feature.

Augmented

Boot from Backup

Boot from Backup is another innovation release in VM Backup V7. This enables administrators to boot from the backup location.

Any changes made to the VM are applied when the VM is rebooted. This feature ensures minimal downtime for end users and enables the administrator to fully recover the original VM without pressure from the organisation.

New interface

You might also have noticed the change in the Altaro logo color. Altaro took the opportunity to freshen up their look with their latest product release and also launched a new website that you can check out at www.altaro.com. The new GUI makes it easy to implement your backup strategy. It’s now possible to manage, configure backup/restore jobs accross multiple hosts all in the same GUI. (Altaro announced that future releases will expand those possibilities even further!) I upgraded my beta install to the final release and all went smooth. The existing configuration and jobs worked as they should after the upgrade. I did a restore test and that worked like a charm.

Currently I’m in the middle of testing the inline deduplication (I can already say I see amazing results) and the other features. I’m also working on a comparison with other vendors. Stay tuned for the results!