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Amazon FSx Backup and Restore: A Practical Guide

What Is AWS FSx?

Amazon FSx enables organizations to launch, scale, and manage high-performance file systems in the AWS cloud. It provides a rich set of features that make it easier to operate various workloads at a cost-effective price.

Amazon FSx leverages the latest AWS networking, disk, and compute technologies to provide lower TCO and higher performance. This fully managed service handles tasks on behalf of the organization, including patching, backups, and hardware provisioning.

This is part of a series of articles about AWS FSx.

In this article:

Amazon FSx Backups

AWS Backup enables organizations to back up Amazon FSx file systems to protect their data. AWS Backup is a backup service that lets organizations create, copy, restore, and delete backups and review the data using reporting and auditing features.

Organizations leverage this service to create a centralized backup strategy for various purposes, including legal and regulatory compliance. AWS Backup provides a centralized location to back up AWS file systems, storage volumes, and databases.

You can use AWS Backup to configure AWS resources for backup, audit the copies, and automate your backup scheduling processes. You can set up retention policies, copy backups across different AWS Regions and accounts, and monitor recent activities related to backing up, copying, and restoring files.

Using AWS Backup for Amazon FSx
AWS Backup employs a built-in backup capability provided by Amazon FSx. It takes backups from the AWS Backup console with the same file system performance and consistency level and restore options set for backups made with the Amazon FSx console.

Using AWS Backup for managing these backups provides additional functionality, including unlimited retention options and scheduling backups frequently (every hour). AWS Backup helps protect against malicious and accidental deletion by retaining immutable backups after the original file system gets deleted.

AWS Backup takes user-initiated backups that count toward an organization’s user-initiated backup quota in Amazon FSx. To review and restore AWS Backup copies, you can leverage the Amazon FSx API, console, and CLI.

Amazon FSx Backups for Windows File Server

Amazon FSx creates highly durable, incremental, file-system-consistent backups. The service uses VSS (Volume Shadow Copy Service) in Microsoft Windows to achieve consistent file systems, storing backups in Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) for high durability.

Every backup of FSx for Windows File Server includes all information needed to build a new file system based on the copy. It enables organizations to restore a point-in-time snapshot of their file system effectively.

Regularly backing up a file system helps support the replication performed by Amazon FSx for Windows File Server for the file system. These backups can also support an organization’s backup retention and compliance requirements.

Shadow copies
A shadow copy is a snapshot of a certain Windows file system at a specific point in time. Enabling shadow copies allows users to easily view and restore folders or individual files from a snapshot in Windows File Explorer. It allows users to undo changes easily and compare file versions. Administrators can use Windows PowerShell commands to schedule periodic shadow copies.

AWS stores shadow copies alongside the file system’s data, ensuring they consume only the file system’s storage capacity and use it for the changed portions of files. Additionally, AWS includes all shadow copies stored in a file system within the backup copies of the file system.

Amazon FSx for Lustre Backups

This feature enables organizations to set up daily automated backups and take user-initiated backups of persistent file systems not connected to an S3 repository. All backups are block-based and incremental backups, and FSx for Lustre stores these copies in Amazon S3 to provide 99.999999999% (11 9’s) durability.

Amazon FSx looks at the data on a given file system at the block level and compares it to a previous backup, storing copies of every block-level change in a new backup. This new copy excludes any block-level data that was not changed after the previous backup. The duration of this process depends on the amount of data changed since the previous backup, regardless of the file system’s capacity.

Amazon FSx for Lustre cannot support the following:

  • Backups on a scratch file system—these systems are not suitable for shorter-term data processing or temporary storage.
  • Backups on a file system connected to an S3 bucket—the bucket is the main data repository, while file systems don’t always contain a full dataset.

Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP Backups

Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP provides the capabilities to solve data protection challenges, including creation of cost-effective snapshots, incremental backups, disaster recovery secondary copies, security and ransomware protection features, as well as governing data to help you address regulatory requirements.

Learn more about how to Protect Your Data with Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP.

Restoring an FSX File System

AWS lets you use the same restoration options whether you are using AWS Backup or native Amazon FSx backup. Both options allow you to use a backup’s recovery point to build new file systems and restore point-in-time snapshots of other file systems.

AWS Backup can create a new file system when restoring an FSx file system, populating it with data. If you use FSx for ONTAP, you can restore volumes to existing file systems.

Creating new file systems takes the same time as restoring backups to a new system. AWS lazy-loads the restored data from the backup to the file system, which means you might experience higher latency during this process.

The AWS Backup console lets you see backups made by Amazon FSx’s built-in auto-backup functionality and recover them. However, it does not allow deleting these backups or changing the automated backup schedules of an FSx file system.

Restoring an FSx for Windows File Server file system
Here is a quick step-by-step process showing how to restore an FSx for Windows File Server file system:

  1. Go to the AWS Backup console using this URL:
  2. Go to the navigation pane, select the Protected resources menu, and select an Amazon FSx resource ID to restore.
  3. The Resource details page displays a list of recovery points for the chosen resource ID. Select a recovery point ID of the resource.
  4. Go to the pane’s top-right corner, select the Restore option, and navigate to Restore backup.
  5. Browse through File system details on the backup restore page. You can find the backup’s ID listed under Backup ID and your file system type displayed under File system type. It lets you restore either FSx for Lustre file systems or FSx for Windows File Server.
  6. Find the Deployment type option and accept the default setting. AWS does not allow changing the file system’s deployment type during a restore operation.
  7. Choose the desired Storage type. Note that AWS does not allow using HDD storage if the file system has a storage capacity of less than 2,000 GiB.
  8. Go to Throughput capacity and choose between Recommended throughput capacity (the recommended option is 16 MB per second (MBps) rate) and Specify throughput capacity that allows you to enter a different rate.
  9. Locate the Network and security section, and enter the information required.
  10. When you restore an FSx for Windows File Server file system, you need to provide Windows authentication information to enable access to the file system or create a new one.
  11. Find the Restore role section and select the IAM role you want AWS Backup to use when creating and managing backups for you. When possible, select the Default role. If no default role exists, AWS creates a new one with the correct permissions. Alternatively, you can provide a custom IAM role.

Verify all setting entries and choose the Restore Backup option.

Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP

In collaboration with NetApp, AWS has launched Amazon FSx for NetApp ONTAP, a new cloud-based managed shared file and block storage service that brings the best of both worlds to their customers.

FSx for ONTAP delivers NFS, SMB and iSCSI storage powered by NetApp’s advanced data management system, with features and benefits that go beyond other AWS offerings:

Learn more about our FSx for ONTAP Customer Success Stories, and click here for a step-by-step walkthrough on how to set up your own FSx for ONTAP environment with NetApp BlueXP.

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Yifat Perry, Technical Content Manager

Technical Content Manager