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It is an unfortunate but undeniable truth that all personal computers are under constant and persistent threat of attack. According to a September 2021 report from cybersecurity firm Positive Technologies, in the second quarter of 2021, ransomware accounted for 69% of all attacks involving malware. Every user, regardless of device or operating system, should have a backup recovery plan for their data—everyone.

While not a turnkey operation by any stretch of the imagination, Microsoft Azure and an Azure related Windows 10 application, can provide a functional cloud-based file, folder and system backup recovery service at a reasonable price. The first step is to create an Azure account, which new users can do for free for one year. The rest of the process, however, is more involved.

SEE: Checklist: How to manage your backups (TechRepublic Premium)

How to create a backup recovery service with Microsoft Azure

Assuming you have created your Azure account, use your web browser to navigate to the Microsoft Azure Portal and log in in with your admin-level credentials. The first order of business is to create a Recovery Services vault, which is part of the Backup Center, as shown in Figure A.

Figure A

Click the +Vault button on the menu and create your Recovery Services vault. As you can see in Figure B, there are many available data sources. Press Continue to move to the next configuration screen.

Figure B

As you can see in Figure C, there are not a lot of questions to answer to complete the configuration. Give your vault a name, associate it with a resource and pick a server location. When the vault configuration is set, click the Review + Create button. We sill ignore tags for this tutorial. Click the Create button again to complete the process.

Figure C

It will take a few minutes for Azure to create the vault. When the deployment is complete, click the Go to Resource button, which will take you to the dashboard for your newly created vault (Figure D).

Figure D

To create a Backup process for our Azure Recovery Vault, click the +Backup item on the menu to reach the configuration screen shown in Figure E. On this page you will select what kind of backup and recovery process you would like to create. To backup files on your client PC, select On-Premises in the first box and then make your backup choices in the second box.

Figure E

When you have finished making your choices, click the Prepare Infrastructure button. The information contained on the prepare infrastructure screen (Figure F) is going to be important when you install the Microsoft Azure Recovery Services agent.

Figure F

First, we will download the Microsoft Azure Recovery Services agent and install it on our client machine (the PC you’d like to back up). The default settings for the MARS agent install should be adequate for most users. However, if you require the use of proxy settings, you may have to contact your IT department for assistance.

After the agent is installed, you will be asked to connect to your vault using specific credentials. Those credentials are provided in step two on the Prepare Infrastructure screen (Figure F). Place a checkmark in the checkbox and then click the Download button. Save the file it generates on your hard drive.

When you connect the MARS agent to your vault, you will eventually reach the screen shown in Figure G, which requires the vault credentials file you downloaded earlier. Note, your backup files will be encrypted so you will also be required to supply an adequate passphrase. When complete, press the “Register” button.

Figure G

Click Close to finish the process.

The MARS agent is now installed on your PC and connected to your Azure Recovery vault. Double-click the MARS agent icon on your Windows 10 desktop to run the application, as shown in Figure H.

Figure H

From the MARS agent, click the Schedule Backup item from the righthand menu, and you will be able to choose which files and folders you want to back up, how often you want them updated and how long you want them to be retained.

With the free trial period of one year, this backup-and-recover method is low cost and efficient. After the trial period, there will some cost associated with the service, but it will be minimal, based solely on how much data is involved. However, this Azure service will provide significant peace of mind if you are unfortunate enough to be attacked by ransomware or some other malicious individual with criminal intent.