When we talk about the AWS cloud, one of the topics that is often part of the conversation is disaster recovery and in particular various recovery options such as instance, volume and file level recovery. While keeping disaster recovery in mind is crucial for all environments, it should be carefully considered prior to designing and deploying infrastructure in order to make sure that your cloud resources are well protected and easily available if a disaster occurs.
There are multiple products out there that deal with disaster recovery, both AWS-provided and third party-developed. This article will discuss N2WS Backup And Recovery, a very promising AWS native tool that has been on the market since 2013. We will briefly review its historical offering before examining two features that were greatly enhanced in the latest 2.6 update: file level recovery and reporting.
N2WS Backup and Recovery: The Evolution of the Tool
N2WS Backup And Recovery has undergone a steady stream of updates since it came out. These updates have introduced new features enhanced existing ones.
Some of the more prominent features include:
- RESTful API—This is a must-have tool for easily tying backup and recovery to a third party solution.
- VPC Capture and Clone—As we all know, network infrastructure setup takes both time and knowledge, and replicating that infrastructure requires manual work or writing a CloudFormation template. With VPC Capture and Clone, you can capture and perfectly replicate everything with only a couple of clicks.
- NSupports—Helpful for automated backups of DynamoDB as well as full cross-region and cross-account disaster recovery for AWS Aurora.
- Direct backup to S3—This provides a very nice cost savings (up to 40%).
- EFS backups—With this feature, there is no more need for custom scripts. Now you can easily backup and restore your EFS to another region or even another AWS account if desired.
On top of these are the enhanced file level recovery and reporting features discussed below. Note that many of these features are unique to the N2WS Backup And Recovery tool, so you won’t find them elsewhere. Given the existing trend, you can expect to see more features to be released in the near future.
Before we move on to enhanced file level recovery and reporting, let’s look at how you can setup N2WS Backup and Recovery on your AWS account.
Setting Up N2WS Backup and Recovery
Start by opening AWS Marketplace and searching for “n2ws backup recovery.” You will see multiple versions available. You can always start with the Free Trial & Bring Your Own License (BYOL) edition to test things out.
There is no cost for this edition, although you do have to pay for the AWS resources you will be using—in this case, an EC2 instance. Click “subscribe/continue” to subscribe.
Click on “Continue to Configuration.”
Now, choose whether you want to deploy the software via Amazon Machine Image (AMI) or a CloudFormation (CF) template. In this example, we will use AMI.
The next screen allows you to choose how you want to deploy the instance running the software. The simplest solution is to run it from the website directly.
Scrolling down, you can choose the instance type (with t3.medium being the suggested one), VPC, and subnet to be used, as well as the Security Group (SG) and the key pair for the instance. When you are ready, click “Launch” and wait for the instance to get up and running (passing the status checks in the EC2 console).
Once that’s ready, open N2WS Backup and Recovery via the web browser using the IP address of the instance, making sure to use the secured HTTPS—https://ip-address.
If this is your first time running this software, you will need to configure it. For security reasons, you will be asked to provide ID of the instance running this software.
After accepting the License Terms and Agreement, you will set up your free trial (or, if you’re running another edition, you can input the activation key).
After you select a couple of other basic settings, the tool will configure itself, and you will be ready to go.
At this point, you will be presented with the landing page:
If this is your first time using N2WS Backup and Recovery, the first step is to add your AWS account. Go to the Accounts tab and click on “Add New Account.”
Choose the desired option (“CPM Instance IAM Role” is always desired for security reasons), and, after the account has been added, go back to the main page.
Updating Your AWS Permissions for the 2.6 Update
As a result of the new features introduced in the 2.6 update, N2WS Backup and Recovery now requires some additional permissions on the AWS side. You can find the necessary policies and detailed instructions for setting them up in the attachment available here if you haven’t worked with Identity and Access Management (IAM) before.
N2WS Backup and Recovery: Enhanced File Level Recovery
File level recovery is not a new feature of N2WS Backup and Recovery, but with the 2.6 update, some significant enhancements appeared. Prior to 2.6, you couldn’t do file level recovery with encrypted snapshots, unless they belonged to your account or you had shared the encryption key. Now, there is no need to decrypt your volumes during file level restore. Additionally, you can now recover files from other regions or even other accounts (both encrypted and unencrypted) if needed. This is very helpful for controlling multiple accounts, because you can recover data from one centralized location.
Note that File Level Recovery involves launching a worker EC2 instance. Additionally, you might have to create the worker configuration (for more details refer to the user guide here) in order for it to function in different regions and/or AWS accounts.
To do a file level recovery with the N2WS Backup and Recovery tool, you first need to have something backed up. After you’ve done that, go to your “Backup Monitor” tab, find the desired resource that you want to restore from, and, under “Actions,” click on “Recover.”
At the Recovery Panel, click on “Explore.” A pop-up window will appear, and your recovery will start. You will have to wait for a couple of minutes for your data to be prepared.
After your data is ready, you can start browsing and downloading single files or folders if desired.
You don’t have to explore your entire backup if you don’t want to. Instead, you can click on “Volumes Only” at your Recovery Panel and pick a specific volume to be explored.
File level recovery is a great way to save time and money when you don’t need all of your resources restored and are only looking for a few files critical files.
N2WS Backup and Recovery: Reporting
The reporting feature has also been improved with the 2.6 update. You can now schedule reports and generate them on demand. You can also receive reports by email, thanks to integration with AWS SES. These additions are very helpful when looking to stay compliant and meet your customers’ requirements.
To create a report, go to the Reports section of your N2WS Backup and Recovery UI.
As before, you can generate an on demand report for your desired account and time period.
Starting with 2.6, you can also put scheduled reporting in place. All you have to do is create a schedule (or pick an existing one if you have it already), and your desired report will be generated for a chosen AWS account at that time. Additionally, there is a “run now” option.
N2WS Backup and Recovery has come a long way since it was first released. With each update, new features have been introduced and existing ones have undergone numerous enhancements. With the 2.6 update’s quick and easy EFS backups as well as enhanced file level recovery and reporting, this tool keeps pushing the boundaries of disaster recovery. If you haven’t already tried N2WS Backup and Recovery, now is the time to check out their free trial.