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How to Set Up Azure File Sync (A Step-by-Step Guide)

Azure File Sync service is part of the Microsoft Azure architecture.

Azure File Sync service is part of the Microsoft Azure architecture.

Sharing and Syncing Azure Files

Azure File Sync service is part of the Microsoft Azure architecture. The service is designed to allow users to cache several Azure file shares on an on-premises Windows Server or cloud VM. Usually, the files are stored in the cloud in Azure file shares.

There are two main ways where Azure file shares can be used:

  1. Directly mounting these serverless Azure file shares (SMB)
  2. Caching Azure file share on-premises using Azure File Sync

Usually, the deployment option selected transforms the aspects that you require to consider as you plan for the deployment. An Azure file share can be mounted directly using the standard SMB client. This is often available for Windows, macOS, and Linux. The achievement of this aspect is enabled by the fact that Azure Files offers access to SMBs. Therefore, the mounting of the Azure files can be done locally or in the cloud.

Another aspect to note is that Azure file shares are usually serverless. Therefore, controlling a file server or NAS device is not required or necessary during the deployment of production scenarios. In this regard, there is no need to undertake software upgrades or replace any discs.

Another option is caching file share on-premises. Using the Azure File Sync to cache an Azure file share locally, it is possible to centralize the business file sharing in Azure Files at the same time retaining the adaptability, compatibility, and performance of the on-premises file server. These processes are enhanced by Azure File Sync. Notably, an on-premises or cloud Windows Server is converted into a rapid cache of the Azure file sharing through the Azure File Sync.

Using the Azure File Sync Feature

After creating the Azure Storage account, it is vital to learn how to set up Azure Files and Azure File Sync. As described above, Azure Files and Azure File Sync is an important element that guarantees efficiency. Through the Azure File Sync, individuals can locally cache remotely stored files in Azure Files shares or potentially on an Azure VM by utilizing Azure File Sync.

Through these services, the business can store frequently used or visited files locally for enhanced performance instead of downloading huge files over a poor internet connection.

Pre-Requisites to Using Azure File Sync Feature

Understanding that the Azure Files service consists of Azure File shares is vital. To use the service, you require a storage location for the data the file share will expose through SMB before the creation of an Azure file share. In order to set up the storage account, it is important to set these items specifically for storing Azure file share data.

In order to attain this goal, it is vital to follow the following steps:

  • In the Azure portal, one must click on the Advanced tab. Under the Advanced tab, the Secure Transfer required must be Enabled.
  • The second aspect is setting Blob public access to Enabled.
  • Finally, it is important to set large file shares to support Azure Files to Disabled.

Proceeding to Sync

In order to proceed to sync, the following procedures must be undertaken:

  1. Visit the storage account that was just created. On the Overview page, you should click on the File shares box.
  2. After entering the File share page, you should click the + File button and fill out the blade with a name for the share, and the quota, and select a tier. At this point, you are allowed to select any Quota or Tier that you prefer.
  3. After creating the file share, it is now time to add several directories to it. To do that, you must click on your newly created file share, click Add Directory, and give the share an identity. You can use any name you prefer.

Note: There is a need to understand that the Azure File Sync Service comprises several sections. These sections include the Storage Sync Service, the Sync Group, the Azure File Sync agent, and the Registered server. Starting with the Storage Sync Service, this is a necessary aspect or component of the Azure Files that contains sync groups and the server's endpoints. In the subsequent steps, the aim is to create a storage sync service.

Creating a Storage Sync Service

  1. After opening the Azure portal, you should search for Azure File Sync and click on Azure File Sync. Ensure that you provide the necessary details, including the subscription, region, resource group, and storage sync service name.
  2. After that, you should Select Review + create and then on Create.

Special Note: After following these steps, you should now validate the deployment by visiting the newly deployed Storage sync resource. You should find that the Storage Sync Service and Storage accounts are in the same Resource group and same Reg

Configuring a Sync Group

  1. While on the Azure Files services in the Azure portal, you must click on Sync groups.
  2. Ensure that you provide the necessary details or information to create the sync group, which includes the Sync group name, Azure File Share, 1st Cloud endpoint Subscription, and the Storage account.
  3. After completing the deployment, you should click on the sync group.

Listing the Server Endpoints

In order to list the server Endpoints, several procedures must be followed.

  1. First, log in to your Windows 2019 Server instances and open the server manager.
  2. After successfully logging in, you should Disable the Internet Explorer (IE) Security Configuration to avoid web-related connection issues with the installation of the Azure File Sync agent.
  3. After that, you should download the Azure File Sync agent called StorageSyncAgent_WS2019.msi.
  4. Once the downloading is completed, you should launch the Setup Wizard. It is always recommended that you accept the defaults.
  5. A new setup wizard will then appear after the installer wizard is finished. The setup wizard now adds the server to the Storage Sync Service and Azure File Sync, creating a trusting relationship between your server and the services. Immediately after the agent installation is done, the agent instantly looks for an update or new release. You can proceed by clicking OK.

Registration With the Azure File Sync Service

  1. To start, select the Azure Public Cloud as the Azure Environment assuming the subscription is already in the public cloud.
  2. After that, you should provide your username and password, ensuring you use an account with global administrator permissions.
  3. It is also important to provide all the details of the storage service, such as your Azure subscription, the resource group to create the storage sync service, and the storage sync service name.
  4. After completing the registration, a confirmation of success or failure will be provided.

Note: It is vital to note that the Wizard also runs a connectivity test against a set of Azure endpoints in the background.

Configuring the Registered Server as a Server Endpoint

  1. Navigate to the Azure Portal and access your Azure File Sync service again. Click on the sync group you should have created already.
  2. Click on Add server endpoint. You should see a registered server comes up as an option.
  3. For the path to store synced files to provide a location, you prefer the Azure File shares to be downloaded to on the Windows Server instance.
  4. Keep the Cloud Tiering option disabled. Keep Offline Data Transfer disabled.

Critical Note:

At this point, any files that are added to these directories will be synchronized automatically to the Azure Files storage account. The same sync will also be performed on all the files stored in the Azure Files storage account. You will see a directory in the Azure file share called “.SystemShareInformation”. You should not modify or delete this folder as it is critical to Azure File Sync functionality.

Post-Configuration Test

After successfully configuring the Windows Server with Azure File Sync, it is time to test the service out. It is vital to make several files in any of the sync-configured directories to see the sync in action.

Through the Azure File Sync, organizations can centralize the organization’s file share in the Azure Files. At the same time, they will be able to maintain the performance, flexibility, and compatibility of a Windows file server. While there are several users who might opt to keep full copies of their data locally, Azure File Sync has an additional ability to transform Windows Server into a quick cache of the Azure file share. The user can employ any protocols that are available on the Windows Server in order to access the data locally, including NFS, SMB, and FTPS. It is possible to have as many caches as possible in any place across the world.

The goal is to have an efficient business process and enhance the collaboration between team members through the Azure File Sync system. Azure File Sync has several benefits to organizations, including cloud tiering, multi-site access and sync, business continuity and disaster recovery, and cloud-side backup.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2022 Donald Ngonyo