The landscape of SQL Azure backups is changing rapidly. A few tools are becoming available at no charge and Microsoft is adding capabilities over time. Here a quick update.
Microsoft offers two primary backup mechanisms so far:
- Export/Import feature available on the Azure Management portal
- The COPY operation as part of its T-SQL CREATE DATABASE statement
These mechanisms do not offer a scheduling component and do not work together. To obtain a transactionally consistent backup, you first need to perform the COPY operation manually, then run the Export function.
You have other tools on the market that are a bit more comprehensive at no charge. Here are a few:
- Enzo Backup for SQL Azure (Standard Edition)
- Red Gate's SQL Azure Backup (backup only; no restore; no cloud backup)
These are the only two third-party products available at no charge I am aware of right now. Note that Red Gate's product provides a simple copy operation to a local SQL Server database, not really a backup/restore solution. However it does the job well if you want to get a local copy of your data. Enzo Backup is more comprehensive and offers many more functions, such as a built-in scheduler, cloud backup devices (in Blobs) and a restore capability.
- Enzo Backup for SQL Azure (Advanced Edition)
- SQLAzureBackup (basic command-line BCP wrapper, no cloud backup)
Regarding the tools you can purchase, SQLAzureBackup is a product you can purchase, although it seems somewhat limited in its capabilities. You can nonetheless use it to export your data locally and restore the database back into SQL Azure. Enzo Backup Advanced Edition is a more powerful flavor of the free version that leverages multithreading for faster operations.
Here is a link to an MSDN article that offers additional information on how to backup SQL Azure: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/davidmcg/archive/2011/09/29/data-backup-strategies-for-windows-and-sql-azure.aspx
For the time being Enzo Backup appears to have significantly more capabilities than the other products, and it can be used at no charge by visiting Blue Syntax's website (http://www.bluesyntax.net).
[Disclaimer: I am the author of Enzo Backup for SQL Azure; this blog intends to provide a quick overview of the current tools available on the market; please investigate the tools referenced here and visit the MSDN link provided to make an educated decision]