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Backup… Such a harsh word, right? Data is the single most important part of your web presence. Taking a backup of your database is crucial, yet a lot of engineers neglect even the basic steps of a secure database backup.

Throughout this short article, I’m going to explain the different types of automatic backups. Yes, Windows Azure performs free automatic database backups, from which you can restore your cloud database. These backups are created automatically and you don’t have to do anything to enable this Azure SQL Database feature.

Backup types

Windows Azure supports the following types of backup:

  • Full backup: contains a whole database backup that happens once a week. It represents the database at the end of the backup process.
  • Differential backup: contains the differences of the current database from the one saved in the last full backup. It happens every few hours.
  • Transaction Log backup: contains the database transaction logs and it happens every 5-10 minutes (depending on performance level and database activity)

Differential and Transaction Log backups happen only if there is a Full backup to be used as a base.

All 3 types of backup are created automatically for every Azure SQL database and help you to restore a database from a specific backup time.

Backup Retention Period

Backup retention period depends on database service-tier. Basic tier backups are held for 7 days, while Standard and Premium tier are held for 35 days.

To check your database service tier, login to Azure Portal, go to the “SQL Databases” tab and check the value under “Pricing tier”.

Windows Azure SQL Databases Dashboard

If you need longer retention period for your database backups, you can configure Long-Term Backup Retention to the Azure Backup Service Vault, that extends up to 10 years (this option is not free).

Free Backup Storage Size

Azure offers free database backup storage up to 200% of the database’s maximum storage. For example, for a Basic database, the free backup storage is 4GB (since the maximum database size is 2GB), while for a Standard database is 500GB. If the database backups exceed the free backup storage, you can pay for extra backup storage or you can contact Azure Support to reduce the retention period. For example, you can ask for 20 days instead of 35 if you have a Standard database.


In order to understand Azure SQL Database backups:

  • Check the different backup types
  • Decide if you want a longer retention period and more backup storage

Enjoy your cloud adventures!

Georgia Makoudi

Georgia is a Cloud Specialist at LightBuzz. During the past ten years, she's been developing secure backend systems for financial institutions and healthcare companies. She's passionately writing about Microsoft Azure. Did we mention that she loves Escape Rooms?

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