Ever since its public release, AWS cloud has provided great storage solutions as a part of their offerings. S3 was one of the first services released. It’s one of the pillars of the entire AWS platform, and it’s used by most, if not all, AWS customers. It has multiple storage classes to choose from, and it will fulfill most needs when storing objects. Glacier is a great cold storage solution for those who are looking to reduce the cost of keeping their long-term data, especially with the release of Glacier Deep Archive. EBS volumes are a core component of every running instance and provide necessary block storage for file systems as well as data. EBS volumes come in various types, including low-cost HDD volumes designed for less frequently accessed workloads and high throughput SSD for mission critical processes.
Until recently, there was a piece missing from these diverse offerings—high-performing shared storage. Then, in June 2016, Amazon released its Elastic File System (EFS).
This article will give you an overview of EFS while also introducing you to N2WS Backup & Recovery, a very versatile tool designed specifically for AWS EFS backup – to quickly and easily backup and restore your data. With the latest 2.6 update, N2WS Backup & Recovery added support for EFS. We’ll take a look at how to use it.
So what is AWS EFS exactly, and why should you consider using it?
EFS is a service providing an elastic file system with an almost unlimited scalability that can be shared among thousands of instances at the same time. Its ability to be accessed by multiple instances in parallel makes it a huge step up from the EBS volumes, which can only be attached to a single instance at a time. It enables EBS to provide support for a wide variety of use cases that can often be found in business environments today.
EFS is a fully managed service that scales capacity on demand, so, the more data you add to it, the more it will grow. The same goes when you remove the data from it; the EFS will shrink by itself. But EFS doesn’t only scale the capacity, it also scales the available performance. The more data you store, the better performance you will experience overall. At high usage, you can expect performance of around 500,000 IOPS and over 10 GB/sec.
EFS works with Linux instances (for a Windows-based solution, you can try Amazon FSx), but it is not limited to AWS environments alone. If needed, EFS can be mounted on your on-premises machines as well, making it a great solution for hybrid cloud workloads—a role that EBS could have never fulfilled.
N2WS Backup & Recovery
N2WS Backup & Recovery is a tool designed specifically for AWS that is meant to help you backup and restore your cloud resources quickly and easily. N2WS Backup & Recovery provides automated backup support, allows for a near zero RTO using AWS native tools, and even has cost control features that will provide you with much needed savings. It also supports multitenancy, so you can manage backups and multi-account, multi-region disaster recovery all from a single location.
Let’s look at how you can backup and restore your EFS, a feature just introduced in the latest 2.6 update for N2WS Backup & Recovery.
N2WS Backup & Recovery for EFS: A How To Guide
To begin, open your N2WS Backup & Recovery tool using a web browser. You will be greeted with the following page:
If you are using the N2WS Backup & Recovery tool for the first time, you need to open the Accounts section at the top and add your AWS account. Just click on “Add New Account,” and choose the necessary information. Note that for security reasons, “N2WS Instance IAM Role” should be the first consideration (unless you are using Access keys instead).
Currently you can only use those regions from the AWS Backup supported regions. Currently, these include the US East (Northern Virginia and Ohio), the US West (Oregon), the EU (Ireland), and several other regions. For a full list of them, you can check the table here.
You can add multiple accounts here if your business relies on more than one.
To start the EFS backup, go to the Policies tab and create a new policy.
After your policy is in place, you will see multiple options to choose from. Before you choose one, you’ll want to configure the backup targets. In this case, we want to backup a specific EFS.
Under “Backup Target,” you will see the list of AWS resources that you can backup. Just as with prior versions of N2WS Backup & Recovery, you can choose regular EC2 instances, EBS volumes, and RDS databases, as well as Aurora and Redshift clusters and DynamoDB tables. Each of these can be added, so you don’t have to backup your EFS separately; instead, you can have a logical grouping of resources.
After the 2.6 update, the option for EFS targets can be found at the bottom.
Click on “Add Elastic File System,” and select the EFS to be added to the policy for backups.
Note that you have to already have the EFS created and running on the AWS side.
Check the configuration of the EFS backup first. Open “Configure” under Actions.
The Backup Vault and the role can be there by default, or you can create them yourself if needed.
Going back to the main page, you can test a backup by clicking “run ASAP” under Operations within the Policy tab.
After initiating a backup (or simply waiting for one you have scheduled), go to the Backup Monitor tab where you can see the status of your backups.
There, you can see that your AWS EFS backup has been successful. Now, you are ready to restore it if and when needed.
If you click on “Recover” under Actions, you will be presented with a new page, showing all available backups for the specified policy.
At the moment, we only have an EFS defined within our policy, so that is the only option ready for recovery. If you click on “Recover EFS,” you will be presented with options for restoring your EFS.
Here you can choose the Target EFS. Then, you can either recover over the original one or create a new one. You can change the performance too; if General Purpose is not enough, you can switch to Max I/O. You can even change the encryption settings if desired and preserve tags if needed.
You can follow the progress of the recovery under the Recovery Monitor tab.
You can always check the log if you think there might be issues with your backup.
N2WS Backup & Recovery Release 2.6 Features
While the support for AWS EFS backup was the major feature of the N2WS Backup & Recovery 2.6 update, there are other new features and enhancements worth mentioning as well.
File-level recovery now supports encrypted volumes. This is a big improvement, since it no longer requires you to decrypt the data during the process of backup or recovery. It also works cross-region and cross-account, giving you a great amount of flexibility.
Reporting has also undergone some improvements, such as automated scheduled report creation. Compliance requirements might cause you to need detailed reports. With this release, you can choose to have reports scheduled and created on demand. We will be covering both of these updates in much greater detail in the near future.
Starting with 2.6, N2WS Backup & Recovery has also moved to the Ubuntu 18.04 OS with all of the latest security and performance updates.
N2WS Backup & Recovery has come a long way since it was originally released. Each update has yielded both new features and improvements to existing features, making this tool more powerful by the day. The latest 2.6 update introduced much desired support for EFS backups, expanding the functionality of this product while retaining its simplicity of use. With new features on the horizon, there is no better tool that N2WS Backup & Recovery for your cloud backup needs.
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