N2WS Backup & Recovery lets you back up data in Amazon Web Services (AWS) automatically as often as required while also providing quick recovery.

Graham Beer

Graham is an experienced system engineer with a passion for PowerShell and automation. You can follow his blog or reach him on Twitter at @GKBeer.

Data backup and data recovery are important parts of running and protecting your business. Data loss can be detrimental, causing application downtime, requiring you to do work twice, forcing you to spend time recovering your environment, and even putting a strain on client relationships. The excellent N2WS product comes into its own here…

A cloud-native backup tool built specifically for AWS, N2WS lets you back up data as often as needed and recover it far more quickly than with traditional on-premises backup solutions, thus simplifying workloads and saving time and resources. N2WS Backup & Recovery, previously known as Cloud Protection Manager (CPM), takes advantage of AWS-native technologies by storing backups as highly-available snapshots in Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3). By moving snapshots from Elastic Block Store (EBS) to S3 storage, you can save costs considerably.

N2WS Backup & Recovery key features ^

Before we take advantage of the 30-day trial available to us, I wanted to highlight some key areas where N2WS stands out from other backup solutions:

  • Block-level incremental backups

N2WS takes snapshots at the block level, so if only part of a file changes, it only backs up the modified disk blocks. Backing up data like this is the most efficient way.

  • Flexible backup policies

N2WS certainly gives the user a lot of flexibility when configuring backup polices. You can set backup schedules ranging from minutes to months. Other features such as custom retention periods, failure handling, and retries are available. All of this includes the ability to mix and match schedules.

  • Application consistency

N2WS takes a consistent backup of production applications while not needing any downtime. It provides out-of-the-box support for many applications, including Active Directory, SQL Server, and MySQL, to name just a few.

  • Highest availability

An exciting feature is the ability to recover instances to other AWS regions and even other AWS accounts! This includes all data and configuration you might have backed up. Performing a recovery this way is quick and limits downtime considerably. Another area of backup includes virtual private cloud (VPC) settings and cloning during recovery.

  • Native technologies

We touched on this earlier—using AWS-native technologies to store backups. Every area of the Backup & Recovery application takes advantage of Amazon APIs.

Configuring N2WS Backup & Recovery ^

By using the 30-day trial, let's take a look at this product for ourselves. From the website https://n2ws.com/, click Start Free Trial from the main banner. Enter your details and start your free trial.

It directs you to AWS Marketplace where the Amazon Machine Image (AMI) for N2WS Backup & Recovery (CPM) Free Trial & BYOL Edition is ready to use. You could also make use of the CloudFormation template provided to start the AMI. To continue, click subscribe. Follow through the wizard to configure your machine and environment to use.

To sign in, copy the public DNS name of the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instance created and paste it into a browser with https:// in front of it. When signing in for the first time, you will see the following screen (after the initial setup questions):

N2WS opening menu screen

N2WS opening menu screen

Upon first impression, the main menu is clear and concise. To perform backups, you will need to create an account. This is a straightforward process—select Accounts and Add New Account:

Creating a new account

Creating a new account

The styling and options are easy to follow to create a user account.

Creating a schedule and policy is just as straightforward. Here I am defining a schedule to run daily at 11:30 p.m.:

Creating a schedule

Creating a schedule

We can attach our schedule to the policy:

Creating a policy

Creating a policy

Once a policy is in place, you can add the areas you wish to back up. In this example, I've selected the EC2 instance:

Policy instance and volume configuration

Policy instance and volume configuration

So we have a powerful backup and recovery tool that is easy to understand and use. But what about reporting? How can we see the backup status of our environment? Again, another strong area of the application is reporting.

I don't have a huge number of resources in my AWS account, so let's look at a report that informs me of what's not backed up in AWS:

Unprotected resource accounts

Unprotected resource accounts

A clear and detailed report displays, giving me the Resource Type, Resource ID, Region, and backup Account used.

N2WS has a rich and detailed website full of information and documentation. For example, there are how-to guides, case studies, blogs, and a video library. An area I found interesting was a how-to document on CPM RESTful APIs. This document of over 400 pages details the APIs you can interact with and further automate. N2WS really has covered all areas to assist with your product experience.

N2WS  vs. AWS Backup and Amazon Data Lifecyle Manager? ^

AWS Backup and Data Lifecycle Manager are built-in tools, designed to automate snapshots within AWS and manage the lifecycle of your AWS resources. These tools are useful, but rather basic in functionalities as they don't provide any recovery options. You can turn a snapshot into a data volume and mount the volume, but that is not good enough to meet your recovery SLAs. To find out more about why EBS snapshots are not enough for AWS backup, read this blog post.

Conclusion ^

N2WS Backup & Recovery for AWS environments is a simple-to-use and highly effective tool You certainly don't need to be an expert in AWS to back up your environment with this tool. The easy-to-follow menus with clear option tabs help greatly.

Cleverly using powerful AWS APIs and moving storage from EBS to S3 both help save costs dramatically. It's also worth noting some customers that already use this application: Coca-Cola, Cisco, Dyson, Oracle, and many more. If you're looking for a backup solution for AWS, I would recommend looking at N2WS Backup & Recovery.

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