Microsoft Details Windows Server 8 Online Backup, Offers Beta

Microsoft offered details about its upcoming Windows Server 8 cloud backup service and made a beta version available to customers willing to test the new service.

The Microsoft Online Backup Service, which is backed by Microsoft's Azure cloud, allows files and folders to be backed up to the cloud for off-site protection against data loss due to disasters, wrote Gaurav Gupta, senior program manager on Microsoft's cloud backup team, on a Microsoft blog posted Wednesday.

The service uses Windows Azure BLOB (binary large object, or basic large object) storage as a way for customers to back up and recover data from any location over the Internet without the need to invest in new hardware, Gupta wrote. The Microsoft Online Backup Agent allows the service to work through the Windows Server Backup interface, he wrote.

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The Microsoft Online Backup Service integrates with the Windows Server Backup utility for simple interfacing, configuring, and monitoring of backups, Gupta wrote.

The service provides such storage features as block-level incremental backups, compression, encryption, and throttling of network bandwidth during backups or restores.

Customers using the service automatically get verification of the integrity of the data, and can set retention policies as needed, Gupta wrote. "The Microsoft Online Backup Service accepts and implements retention policies to recycle backups that exceed the desired retention range, thereby meeting business policies and managing backup costs," he wrote.

The service does not support versions of Windows Server prior to Windows Server 8, nor does it support client operating systems, Gupta wrote.

Backups can be scheduled or done manually. For restoring data, users can choose from which volume data will be restored, as well as the date and time the data was originally backed up, he wrote.

The beta version of the Microsoft Online Backup Service is available to a limited number of test users, Gupta wrote.

Microsoft in January unveiled new reset and refresh capabilities in Windows 8 that will let users take their PCs back to an earlier state if they get into trouble.