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Has data protection for Windows Server containers improved?

Data protection for container storage is out there, but you might have to go looking for it. Brien Posey discusses the options on the market today.

Containers have been a staple of the Linux world for many years, and, in that time, the methods used for backing up containers have changed very little.

Linux admins who need to protect Docker containers commonly rely on the use of scripts. These scripts, which can be scheduled to run at a predetermined time, commonly copy the container data into a tarball. Because a tarball is a type of file, it can be backed up in the same way as any other file.

One of the big changes that has occurred with regard to containers is that, with the release of Windows Server 2016, Docker containers are now natively supported on Windows Server containers.

Windows Server 2016 supports most of the Docker commands, so it is presumably possible to back up Docker containers by using a script that works in a similar manner to those used in Linux environments. Even so, Windows admins are used to working with GUI-based backup applications, as opposed to having to build custom scripts.

Right now, it is surprisingly difficult to find backup software that is designed to protect Windows Server containers. Google searches using combinations of words such as backup, Windows Server, containers and Docker yield almost no relevant results. This may, in fact, be one of the reasons why relatively few Windows shops are currently using Windows Server containers.

Backup products do currently exist for Windows Server containers, but have been largely downplayed. Veeam, for example, published a list of "10 Reasons You Will Love Veeam Availability Suite 9.5 for Windows Server 2016 and Hyper-V." Container support did not make the list, though the last paragraph briefly acknowledges that Veeam does support containers.

Veritas has also somewhat downplayed container support, but not to the extent that Veeam has, indicating that Backup Exec 16 supports Windows Server 2016 features for containers, backup and restore. However, the main product page for Backup Exec makes no mention of containers.

In summary, support for backing up Windows Server containers is improving, since there are now some backup vendors that support container backups. However, backup vendors need to do a better job of making potential customers aware of their ability to protect containers.

Next Steps

The difference between Windows and Hyper-V containers

Everything you need to know about Windows Server containers

Deploying Windows Server containers in Microsoft Azure

This was last published in March 2017

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