Automated Backup v2 for Azure virtual machines (Resource Manager)

Applies to: SQL Server on Azure VM

Automated Backup v2 automatically configures Managed Backup to Microsoft Azure for all existing and new databases on an Azure VM running SQL Server 2016 or later Standard, Enterprise, or Developer editions. This enables you to configure regular database backups that utilize durable Azure Blob Storage. Automated Backup v2 depends on the SQL Server infrastructure as a service (IaaS) Agent Extension.


To use Automated Backup v2, review the following prerequisites:

Operating system:

  • Windows Server 2012 R2 or higher

SQL Server version/edition:

  • SQL Server 2016 or higher: Developer, Standard, or Enterprise


For SQL Server 2014, see Automated Backup for SQL Server 2014.

Database configuration:

  • Target user databases must use the full recovery model. System databases do not have to use the full recovery model. However, if you require log backups to be taken for model or msdb, you must use the full recovery model. For more information about the impact of the full recovery model on backups, see Backup under the full recovery model.
  • The SQL Server VM has been registered with the SQL IaaS Agent extension in full management mode.
  • Automated backup relies on the full SQL Server IaaS Agent Extension. As such, automated backup is only supported on target databases from the default instance, or a single named instance. If there is no default instance, and multiple named instances, the SQL IaaS extension fails and automated backup will not work.


The following table describes the options that can be configured for Automated Backup. The actual configuration steps vary depending on whether you use the Azure portal or Azure Windows PowerShell commands. Note that Automated backup uses backup compression by default and you cannot disable it.

Basic Settings

Setting Range (Default) Description
Automated Backup Enable/Disable (Disabled) Enables or disables Automated Backup for an Azure VM running SQL Server 2016/2017 Developer, Standard, or Enterprise.
Retention Period 1-90 days (90 days) The number of days to retain backups.
Storage Account Azure storage account An Azure storage account to use for storing Automated Backup files in blob storage. A container is created at this location to store all backup files. The backup file naming convention includes the date, time, and database GUID.
Encryption Enable/Disable (Disabled) Enables or disables encryption. When encryption is enabled, the certificates used to restore the backup are located in the specified storage account. It uses the same automatic backup container with the same naming convention. If the password changes, a new certificate is generated with that password, but the old certificate remains to restore prior backups.
Password Password text A password for encryption keys. This password is only required if encryption is enabled. In order to restore an encrypted backup, you must have the correct password and related certificate that was used at the time the backup was taken.

Advanced Settings

Setting Range (Default) Description
System Database Backups Enable/Disable (Disabled) When enabled, this feature also backs up the system databases: master, msdb, and model. For the msdb and model databases, verify that they are in full recovery mode if you want log backups to be taken. Log backups are never taken for master, and no backups are taken for tempdb.
Backup Schedule Manual/Automated (Automated) By default, the backup schedule is automatically determined based on the log growth. Manual backup schedule allows the user to specify the time window for backups. In this case, backups only take place at the specified frequency and during the specified time window of a given day.
Full backup frequency Daily/Weekly Frequency of full backups. In both cases, full backups begin during the next scheduled time window. When weekly is selected, backups could span multiple days until all databases have successfully backed up.
Full backup start time 00:00 – 23:00 (01:00) Start time of a given day during which full backups can take place.
Full backup time window 1 – 23 hours (1 hour) Duration of the time window of a given day during which full backups can take place.
Log backup frequency 5 – 60 minutes (60 minutes) Frequency of log backups.

Understanding full backup frequency

It is important to understand the difference between daily and weekly full backups. Consider the following two example scenarios.

Scenario 1: Weekly backups

You have a SQL Server VM that contains a number of large databases.

On Monday, you enable Automated Backup v2 with the following settings:

  • Backup schedule: Manual
  • Full backup frequency: Weekly
  • Full backup start time: 01:00
  • Full backup time window: 1 hour

This means that the next available backup window is Tuesday at 1 AM for 1 hour. At that time, Automated Backup begins backing up your databases one at a time. In this scenario, your databases are large enough that full backups complete for the first couple databases. However, after one hour not all of the databases have been backed up.

When this happens, Automated Backup begins backing up the remaining databases the next day, Wednesday at 1 AM for one hour. If not all databases have been backed up in that time, it tries again the next day at the same time. This continues until all databases have been successfully backed up.

After it reaches Tuesday again, Automated Backup begins backing up all databases again.

This scenario shows that Automated Backup only operates within the specified time window, and each database is backed up once per week. This also shows that it is possible for backups to span multiple days in the case where it is not possible to complete all backups in a single day.

Scenario 2: Daily backups

You have a SQL Server VM that contains a number of large databases.

On Monday, you enable Automated Backup v2 with the following settings:

  • Backup schedule: Manual
  • Full backup frequency: Daily
  • Full backup start time: 22:00
  • Full backup time window: 6 hours

This means that the next available backup window is Monday at 10 PM for 6 hours. At that time, Automated Backup begins backing up your databases one at a time.

Then, on Tuesday at 10 for 6 hours, full backups of all databases start again.


Backups happen sequentially during each interval. For instances with a large number of databases, schedule your backup interval with enough time to accommodate all backups. If backups cannot complete within the given interval, some backups may be skipped, and your time between backups for a single database may be higher than the configured backup interval time, which could negatively impact your restore point objective (RPO).

Configure new VMs

Use the Azure portal to configure Automated Backup when you create a new SQL Server 2016 or later machine in the Resource Manager deployment model.

In the SQL Server settings tab, select Enable under Automated backup. When you enable automated backup, you can configure the following settings:

  • Retention period for backups (up to 90 days)
  • Storage account, and storage container, to use for backups
  • Encryption option and password for backups
  • Backup system databases
  • Configure backup schedule

To encrypt the backup, select Enable. Then specify the Password. Azure creates a certificate to encrypt the backups and uses the specified password to protect that certificate.

Choose Select Storage Container to specify the container where you want to store your backups.

By default the schedule is set automatically, but you can create your own schedule by selecting Manual, which allows you to configure the backup frequency, backup time window, and the log backup frequency in minutes.

The following Azure portal screenshot shows the Automated Backup settings when you create a new SQL Server VM:

Automated Backup configuration in the Azure portal

Configure existing VMs

For existing SQL Server virtual machines, go to the SQL virtual machines resource and then select Backups to configure your automated backups.

Select Enable to configure your automated backup settings.

You can configure the retention period (up to 90 days), the container for the storage account where you want to store your backups, as well as the encryption, and the backup schedule. By default, the schedule is automated.

Automated Backup for existing VMs

If you want to set your own backup schedule, choose Manual and configure the backup frequency, whether or not you want system databases backed up, and the transaction log backup interval in minutes.

Select manual to configure your own backup schedule

When finished, click the Apply button on the bottom of the Backups settings page to save your changes.

If you are enabling Automated Backup for the first time, Azure configures the SQL Server IaaS Agent in the background. During this time, the Azure portal might not show that Automated Backup is configured. Wait several minutes for the agent to be installed, configured. After that, the Azure portal will reflect the new settings.

Configure with PowerShell

You can use PowerShell to configure Automated Backup v2. Before you begin, you must:


This article uses the Azure Az PowerShell module, which is the recommended PowerShell module for interacting with Azure. To get started with the Az PowerShell module, see Install Azure PowerShell. To learn how to migrate to the Az PowerShell module, see Migrate Azure PowerShell from AzureRM to Az.

Install the SQL Server IaaS Extension

If you provisioned a SQL Server virtual machine from the Azure portal, the SQL Server IaaS Extension should already be installed. You can determine whether it is installed for your VM by calling Get-AzVM command and examining the Extensions property.

$vmname = "vmname"
$resourcegroupname = "resourcegroupname"

(Get-AzVM -Name $vmname -ResourceGroupName $resourcegroupname).Extensions 

If the SQL Server IaaS Agent extension is installed, you should see it listed as "SqlIaaSAgent" or "SQLIaaSExtension." ProvisioningState for the extension should also show "Succeeded."

If it is not installed or it has failed to be provisioned, you can install it with the following command. In addition to the VM name and resource group, you must also specify the region ($region) that your VM is located in.

$region = "EASTUS2"
Set-AzVMSqlServerExtension -VMName $vmname `
    -ResourceGroupName $resourcegroupname -Name "SQLIaasExtension" `
    -Version "2.0" -Location $region 

Verify current settings

If you enabled Automated Backup during provisioning, you can use PowerShell to check your current configuration. Run the Get-AzVMSqlServerExtension command and examine the AutoBackupSettings property:

(Get-AzVMSqlServerExtension -VMName $vmname -ResourceGroupName $resourcegroupname).AutoBackupSettings

You should get output similar to the following:

Enable                      : True
EnableEncryption            : False
RetentionPeriod             : 30
StorageUrl                  :
StorageAccessKey            :  
Password                    : 
BackupSystemDbs             : False
BackupScheduleType          : Manual
FullBackupFrequency         : WEEKLY
FullBackupStartTime         : 2
FullBackupWindowHours       : 2
LogBackupFrequency          : 60

If your output shows that Enable is set to False, then you have to enable Automated Backup. The good news is that you enable and configure Automated Backup in the same way. See the next section for this information.


If you check the settings immediately after making a change, it is possible that you will get back the old configuration values. Wait a few minutes and check the settings again to make sure that your changes were applied.

Configure Automated Backup v2

You can use PowerShell to enable Automated Backup as well as to modify its configuration and behavior at any time.

First, select, or create a storage account for the backup files. The following script selects a storage account or creates it if it does not exist.

$storage_accountname = "yourstorageaccount"
$storage_resourcegroupname = $resourcegroupname

$storage = Get-AzStorageAccount -ResourceGroupName $resourcegroupname `
    -Name $storage_accountname -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue
If (-Not $storage)
    { $storage = New-AzStorageAccount -ResourceGroupName $storage_resourcegroupname `
    -Name $storage_accountname -SkuName Standard_GRS -Location $region } 


Automated Backup does not support storing backups in premium storage, but it can take backups from VM disks which use Premium Storage.

Then use the New-AzVMSqlServerAutoBackupConfig command to enable and configure the Automated Backup v2 settings to store backups in the Azure storage account. In this example, the backups are set to be retained for 10 days. System database backups are enabled. Full backups are scheduled for weekly with a time window starting at 20:00 for two hours. Log backups are scheduled for every 30 minutes. The second command, Set-AzVMSqlServerExtension, updates the specified Azure VM with these settings.

$autobackupconfig = New-AzVMSqlServerAutoBackupConfig -Enable `
    -RetentionPeriodInDays 10 -StorageContext $storage.Context `
    -ResourceGroupName $storage_resourcegroupname -BackupSystemDbs `
    -BackupScheduleType Manual -FullBackupFrequency Weekly `
    -FullBackupStartHour 20 -FullBackupWindowInHours 2 `
    -LogBackupFrequencyInMinutes 30 

Set-AzVMSqlServerExtension -AutoBackupSettings $autobackupconfig `
    -VMName $vmname -ResourceGroupName $resourcegroupname 

It could take several minutes to install and configure the SQL Server IaaS Agent.

To enable encryption, modify the previous script to pass the EnableEncryption parameter along with a password (secure string) for the CertificatePassword parameter. The following script enables the Automated Backup settings in the previous example and adds encryption.

$password = "P@ssw0rd"
$encryptionpassword = $password | ConvertTo-SecureString -AsPlainText -Force  

$autobackupconfig = New-AzVMSqlServerAutoBackupConfig -Enable `
    -EnableEncryption -CertificatePassword $encryptionpassword `
    -RetentionPeriodInDays 10 -StorageContext $storage.Context `
    -ResourceGroupName $storage_resourcegroupname -BackupSystemDbs `
    -BackupScheduleType Manual -FullBackupFrequency Weekly `
    -FullBackupStartHour 20 -FullBackupWindowInHours 2 `
    -LogBackupFrequencyInMinutes 30 

Set-AzVMSqlServerExtension -AutoBackupSettings $autobackupconfig `
    -VMName $vmname -ResourceGroupName $resourcegroupname

To confirm your settings are applied, verify the Automated Backup configuration.

Disable Automated Backup

To disable Automated Backup, run the same script without the -Enable parameter to the New-AzVMSqlServerAutoBackupConfig command. The absence of the -Enable parameter signals the command to disable the feature. As with installation, it can take several minutes to disable Automated Backup.

$autobackupconfig = New-AzVMSqlServerAutoBackupConfig -ResourceGroupName $storage_resourcegroupname

Set-AzVMSqlServerExtension -AutoBackupSettings $autobackupconfig `
    -VMName $vmname -ResourceGroupName $resourcegroupname

Example script

The following script provides a set of variables that you can customize to enable and configure Automated Backup for your VM. In your case, you might need to customize the script based on your requirements. For example, you would have to make changes if you wanted to disable the backup of system databases or enable encryption.

$vmname = "yourvmname"
$resourcegroupname = "vmresourcegroupname"
$region = "Azure region name such as EASTUS2"
$storage_accountname = "storageaccountname"
$storage_resourcegroupname = $resourcegroupname
$retentionperiod = 10
$backupscheduletype = "Manual"
$fullbackupfrequency = "Weekly"
$fullbackupstarthour = "20"
$fullbackupwindow = "2"
$logbackupfrequency = "30"

# ResourceGroupName is the resource group which is hosting the VM where you are deploying the SQL Server IaaS Extension 

Set-AzVMSqlServerExtension -VMName $vmname `
    -ResourceGroupName $resourcegroupname -Name "SQLIaasExtension" `
    -Version "2.0" -Location $region

# Creates/use a storage account to store the backups

$storage = Get-AzStorageAccount -ResourceGroupName $resourcegroupname `
    -Name $storage_accountname -ErrorAction SilentlyContinue
If (-Not $storage)
    { $storage = New-AzStorageAccount -ResourceGroupName $storage_resourcegroupname `
    -Name $storage_accountname -SkuName Standard_GRS -Location $region }

# Configure Automated Backup settings

$autobackupconfig = New-AzVMSqlServerAutoBackupConfig -Enable `
    -RetentionPeriodInDays $retentionperiod -StorageContext $storage.Context `
    -ResourceGroupName $storage_resourcegroupname -BackupSystemDbs `
    -BackupScheduleType $backupscheduletype -FullBackupFrequency $fullbackupfrequency `
    -FullBackupStartHour $fullbackupstarthour -FullBackupWindowInHours $fullbackupwindow `
    -LogBackupFrequencyInMinutes $logbackupfrequency

# Apply the Automated Backup settings to the VM

Set-AzVMSqlServerExtension -AutoBackupSettings $autobackupconfig `
    -VMName $vmname -ResourceGroupName $resourcegroupname


To monitor Automated Backup on SQL Server 2016/2017, you have two main options. Because Automated Backup uses the SQL Server Managed Backup feature, the same monitoring techniques apply to both.

First, you can poll the status by calling msdb.managed_backup.sp_get_backup_diagnostics. Or query the msdb.managed_backup.fn_get_health_status table-valued function.

Another option is to take advantage of the built-in Database Mail feature for notifications.

  1. Call the msdb.managed_backup.sp_set_parameter stored procedure to assign an email address to the SSMBackup2WANotificationEmailIds parameter.
  2. Enable SendGrid to send the emails from the Azure VM.
  3. Use the SMTP server and user name to configure Database Mail. You can configure Database Mail in SQL Server Management Studio or with Transact-SQL commands. For more information, see Database Mail.
  4. Configure SQL Server Agent to use Database Mail.
  5. Verify that the SMTP port is allowed both through the local VM firewall and the network security group for the VM.

Next steps

Automated Backup v2 configures Managed Backup on Azure VMs. So it is important to review the documentation for Managed Backup to understand the behavior and implications.

You can find additional backup and restore guidance for SQL Server on Azure VMs in the following article: Backup and restore for SQL Server on Azure virtual machines.

For information about other available automation tasks, see SQL Server IaaS Agent Extension.

For more information about running SQL Server on Azure VMs, see SQL Server on Azure virtual machines overview.