What Is AWS Backup and How Does It Work?


What Is AWS Backup and How Does It Work?


What Is AWS Backup?


AWS Backup is the managed backup service provided by Amazon Web Services for its users. It allows users to store data across AWS services in the cloud and on-premises using the AWS Storage Gateway. You can use the AWS Backup Console to centralize and automate the backup of data by configuring backup policies for the AWS resources you use.


AWS Backup allows you to automate and consolidate backup tasks for all services, avoiding manual processes, by using backup policies to automate backup schedules.


Benefits of AWS Backup


  • Centralizes the Backup Management—by using a central console, you can configure policies to automate the backup according to the configurations you need, including setting backup retention policies in the cloud and on-premises.
  • Automate Backup Processes—you can automate backup schedules, retention management, and lifecycle management. You can apply the backup policies to transfer older backups to cold storage, reducing storage costs.
  • Improve Backup Compliance—encrypting data in transit and at rest. Consolidating activity logs across AWS services, facilitating compliance audits. It complies with PCI, ISO, and HIPAA.

How AWS Backup Works


Being a fully managed backup service provides a policy-based solution to centralize and automate the backup of data across the AWS environment, both in the cloud and on-premises. It has a pay-as-you-go pricing scheme, charging users per-GB. The system works by performing a full backup copy as the first backup and then proceed to do incremental backups as scheduled. To start the backup of AWS resources you should open the AWS backup console and create a Backup Plan.


There are several methods you can use:

  • AWS Backup—involves creating a backup plan through the AWS Backup console. You can create a new one from scratch or build one based on an existing plan. In addition, it allows you to assign resources to the plan using tags.

  • AWS Lambda—it is an event-driven serverless computing platform offered by Amazon. It allows running backup procedures based on trigger events from AWS services, such as an S3 bucket writing.

  • In-cloud Backup Solutions—there are many vendors providing in-cloud backup solutions for AWS, offering features that are not supported by AWS Backup.

Creating A Backup Plan


You can use the AWS Management Console to configure AWS Backup. There are two ways to create a backup plan in AWS:


  • Build from an Existing Plan—you can create a backup plan based on the configurations of an existing backup plan created by you or by AWS Backup. This allows you to save time, by building on top of existing configurations and only changing what needs updating.

  • Create a new Backup Plan from Scratch—you can choose from the default configuration options specifying the configuration details.

For a detailed guide to creating a backup plan see Create a Backup Plan in the AWS site.


Backup Plan Options


When you create a backup plan, the AWS Backup console asks you to configure options like a unique backup plan name and the backup rules. These, in turn, consist of the following elements:


  • Backup Rule Name—you should keep in mind rule names are case sensitive.
  • Frequency—this determines how often the system runs a backup, and you can choose every 12 hours, daily, weekly or monthly.
  • Window—the time the backup begins and how long it takes.

Other interesting features you should consider to configure are:


  • Lifecycle—helps to transition the backup instances to cold storage when outdated. For example, you can set it to transition to cold after 30 days. Keep in mind that backups need to be stored in cold storage for 90 days before being set to expire. This function only works for Amazon EFS backups, not for Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS), relational database, or DynamoDB.

  • Backup Vault—this feature allows you to organize your backups in. You can use the default backup or create your customized vault. It allows for encryption using the encryption key in AWS Key Management Service. (AWS KMS).

Recommended AWS Services that Require Backup


Organizations selecting AWS resources for backup should ask how much restore capabilities they need. Companies that only need to back up the data can use AWS Data Pipeline, to move data from S3 to Glacier storage. On the other hand, organizations needing more bare-metal restore capabilities can benefit from EC2 and EBS snapshots.


Regardless of the backup method chosen, it is important to select an efficient backup scheme such as Grandfather-Father-Son (GFS), which consists of three backup cycles. That being said, here are some of the AWS services that you should include in your back up plan:

Amazon Aurora (Aurora DB Cluster)

It is a relational database compatible with PostgreSQL and MySQL. The database allows you to manually take a snapshot of data in the cluster if you want to retain it longer than the backup retention period.


Amazon DynamoDB

It is a NoSQL database, with built-in automated on-demand backup, restore and point-in-time recovery.

Amazon EC2 (EBS Volumes)

It is one of Amazon’s main service, EC2, a cloud-computing platform that gives compute capacity with minimal friction. EBS volumes are backed up using EBS snapshots.

Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS Volumes)

This block storage is designed to use with EC2 instances, supporting a range of workloads including big data analytics engines. They can be distributed in multiple Availability Zones, effectively reducing risk, and you can also back them up in S3.


Amazon Elasticsearch (Elasticsearch Clusters)

This open-source distributed search and analytics engine is very versatile and can be used for an array of cases, from business analytics to security intelligence. At the core of the Elasticsearch is the cluster, consisting of a group of nodes holding data with indexing and search capabilities among them. You can back up these clusters with Amazon Elasticsearch Service Index Snapshots.


Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS Database Instances)

The Amazon Relational Database Service, ( Amazon RDS) a distributed relational database service, provides scalable capacity and backup automation while being cost-efficient.

Amazon S3 (S3 Buckets)

With the buckets boasting 99.999999999% (11 9’s) of durability, it is not surprising that Amazon S3 is one of the most popular services in the AWS environment. It is an object storage service designed to work with e-commerce architecture. It provides cold storage on Amazon Glacier and is very cost-effective in terms of storage costs.

Wrap Up


Organizations willing to start creating a backup plan in AWS Backup console should consider first their companies storage needs, and choose a backup method. At this stage, it is worth considering using an in-cloud backup solution designed for AWS Backup to ensure that any data that needs to be is backed up, that backups are scheduled on time and that the data is running a lifecycle that helps reduce storage costs.

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