Backup Techniques for SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines

In the previous blog post I did a quick overview building a SQL VM (imaged) in Azure. It is now time to clarify some backup techniques because it can get confusing.

At a high level there are 3 techniques.

  • Automated backup.
  • Azure backup for SQL VM (that’s what MS call it).
  • Manual backup, for example backup to URL.

I prefer not setting up manual backups to storage accounts, I have done it, I just find it painful to  setup/support/fix. So my choice would be automated backup vs “Azure backup” for SQL VM. What’s the difference?

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SQL Server Virtual Machines in Azure

Let’s create a virtual machine in Azure that has an imaged copy of SQL Server on it. I want to do this because down the line I want to show how you can setup automated backups to a storage account based on an IaaS extension, when I do that I will most likely talk about the different backup options because there are many.

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Azure Storage Accounts – Open to the Internet?

Let’s get straight to the point. From official documentation it states that “To secure your storage account, you should first configure a rule to deny access to traffic from all networks (including internet traffic) by default. Then, you should configure rules that grant access to traffic from specific vnets. This configuration enables you to build a secure network boundary for your applications”.

Navigate to your storage account, what is the default setting? It is shown below.

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Hot Patching sqlservr.exe in Azure SQL Database

An amazing blog post by Microsoft describing the idea of hot patching the database engine in Azure SQL Database to allow for minimal downtime when applying patches to SQL Server. We know that it is one of the benefits of Azure SQL Database but now we get some insight into how it’s done.

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SQL Server 2019 – Compatibility Level in Azure

I am not sure when this became available but for Azure SQL Database 150 compatibility level is now available. Last time I created a database few weeks ago, only level 140 ( SQL Server 2017) was available so I think it is a recent thing.

Upon some testing, if you create a new Azure SQL Database by default it is 150 as per the screen shot below (from the script action command)

defaule150

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Azure – What is a Shared Access Signature?

Using a Shared Access Signature (SAS) is usually the best way to control access rights to Azure storage resources (like a container for backups) without exposing the primary / secondary storage keys. It is based on a URI and this is what I want to look at today.

I always use the Azure Storage Explorer to build a SAS token. Let’s dig into what the different parts mean.

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