Hello all,

Long time no see, so now it is time for a new blog post. Today’s topic: Azure File Sync and how configure it.

When Azure Files was introduced, in some way it was “revolutional”. Azure Files offers fully managed file shares in the cloud that are accessible via SMB. You are able to mount file shares on Windows, Linux and macOS machines. There are a few benefits of using Azure Files, that I mentioned in one of my previous posts, so we can move forward to our main topic.

Really big benefit for organizations which have a plan to use Azure Files, comes with Azure File Sync. Azure File Sync gives you possibility to cache data from Azure File Share on Windows Servers, for faster access to the data that is being used. Clients will be able to access data using “standard” SMB shares on their local servers, while the data is in the cloud …

In this post, I will show you how to install and configure this functionality in Azure and on Windows Server.

Step 1 – Creating Azure File Share

The very first step in this implementation will be creating storage account and Azure File Share. Steps needed for competition this task are explained in one of the previous posts.

Step 2 – Deploying Azure File Sync

Once you have created and configured Azure File Share, next step is deploying Azure File Sync. When you login to the Azure Portal, search for the Azure File Sync resource and start with creation.

On the Basics tab you need to define Resource Group, Location and name for the Storage Sync service.

With these steps, Azure File Sync is deployed and next step is configuring Storage Sync Service.

Step 3 – Configuring Storage Sync Service

Storage Sync Service configuration consist of several steps. You need to configure Sync Group, register Windows Server and “link” cloud endpoint to the server endpoint (previously registered Windows Server).

Open created Storage Sync Service and select Sync groups under Sync in left action pane and click to + Sync group to start sync group creation process.

Then select previously configured Azure File Share and define name for the sync group.

Once sync group is created, you can navigate to Registered servers under Sync in left action pane and will see that there is no any registered servers. In order to configure and make functional Azure File Sync, you need to install Storage Sync Agent on Windows Server that will be file share point for the clients.

Once you download and start installation of Storage Sync Agent, you just need to follow wizard.

After the agent is installed and you want to start for the first time to configure it, you could see error message “Pre-requisites are missing”.

As you can see, Azure PowerShell module and .NET 4.7.2 need to be installed on Windows Server in order to be “up & running”.

TIP: Although AzureRM module is declared as a pre-requisite, Az PowerShell module will be OK as well. Module can be installed using PowerShell command Install-Module Az -AllowClobber.

Once you have installed all prerequisites, you will be able to login to your Azure subscription and register your Windows Server to Storage Sync Service.

When server is registered to Storage Sync Service, you will be able to see your Windows Server in Registered servers.

The last step in this process is configuring Sync group. When you created Sync group, you had to select Azure file share. That file share represents Cloud endpoint for Azure File sync.

Now, when you have registered server, you can add Server endpoint for this sync group. In this step, you need to select one of the registered servers and define local path where files will be stored. Although it is possible to add local C drive as path for syncing files, that will automatically disable Cloud Tiering option. So, if there is no any other breaking points, use another drive and letter for syncing file.

Cloud Tiering is really useful feature that will transform your file server to caching server for a file share. Only files that are frequently “in use” will be cached on File Server. For all other files, only metadata will be downloaded to the File Server. With Cloud Tiering, you can define how many days file will be cached on the file server if isn’t “in use”.

At the moment, there are few limitations.

  • Registered server can be part of only one sync group.
  • File Sync will occur immediately if you add new files to File Share on registered server, but if you add new files directly to the storage account, you will wait for the next synchronization cycle, that occurs once per day.
  • Although Azure Backup has option to backup Azure Files, that is still in preview, but that is Azure Backup service limitation 🙂

 

Cheers!

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