What is Azure File Sync?

Azure File Sync is a service for Windows Server that allows organizations to centralize files in Azure and access them locally.

Azure File Sync Introduction

The purpose of Azure File Sync is to provide on-premises users and applications with quicker access to cloud files. Powered by local caches, Azure File Sync continually synchronizes with Windows Server. The service provides a consolidated location for cloud-based files with local access to multiple sites. The Azure file storage tool helps organizations with multiple sites like retail stores, life sciences labs, regional offices and hospitals to centralize their files onto a single shared server or VM.

Before the General Availability (GA) of Azure File Sync, organizations had to sacrifice either manageability or accessibility of cloud-based files. Users across multiple sites would typically access their files from a local file store. Consequently, managing, backing up and recovering each shared file server was incredibly complicated and cumbersome. Organizations could have centralized files in Azure, but that had made it more difficult for users to access. Fortunately, Azure File Sync provides the perfect balance of accessibility and manageability by providing sites with a local file share that continuously syncs with Azure.

Azure File Sync Terminology

The Azure File Sync service includes some terminology that you should understand and review before deployment. To help you get started, we've provided some essential vocabulary below:

  • Storage Sync Service: The Storage Sync Service is Azure File Sync's primary resource and is a peer of the storage account resource. Although it can be deployed to Azure resource groups, it is a distinct resource from the storage account. The Storage Sync Service is the component that creates sync relationships with multiple storage accounts.
  • Sync Group: Sync groups are what determines the sync topology for a set of files, and the endpoints within each group synchronize with each other.
  • Registered Server: Within each Azure File Sync instance is an object that represents a trust between your file server and the Storage Sync Service.
  • Azure File Sync Agent: A downloadable file that enables the synchronization between Azure and your file share
  • Server Endpoint and Cloud Endpoint: The Server Endpoint is the location on a file server to which Azure syncs. The Cloud Endpoint is essentially the Azure file share.

Azure File Sync Feature and File Support

With Azure File Sync, not all files sync fully and some are skipped completely. We've built a convenient grid that you can reference to determine file compatibility:

Feature or File Fully Supported Partially Supported Skipped Preserved but not Synced
Access Control Lists (ACLs)      ✓      
Hard links          ✓  
Symbolic links          ✓  
Mount points           ✓    
Junctions          ✓  
Reparse points          ✓  
NTFS compression      ✓      
Sparse files      ✓      
Alternate Data Streams                   ✓
Desktop.ini          ✓  
ethumbs.db$          ✓  
~$*.*          ✓  
*.tmp          ✓  
*.laccdb          ✓  
635D02A9D91C401B97884B82B3BCDAEA.*          ✓  
\System Volume Information          ✓  
$RECYCLE.BIN          ✓  
\SyncShareState          ✓  


Azure File Sync Feature and File Support

Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Server 2016 are the operating systems that support Azure File Sync. However, we expect Windows Server 2019 to support the service also. SysAdmins should note that Azure File Sync has other system requirements. Requirements include AzureRM (version 4.3.1 or later) and Windows Management Framework 5.1 (Windows Server 2012 R2 only).

Backup and Antivirus for File Servers in Microsoft Hyper-V and Microsoft Azure

Your organization's files, be it financial information, employee records, customer data or other is arguably the most critical assets to safeguard. Protecting this data across private and public clouds in a hybrid environment can be complicated, cumbersome and incredibly time-consuming. Without the right backup and security solutions implemented, an inadvertent system misconfiguration or intentional malicious attack could jeopardize your data and your company. Fortunately, 5nine Cloud Manager and 5nine Cloud Security can be used together to back up, recover and secure virtual machines in Hyper-V and Azure. As you learn more about Azure File Sync and consider the resources you'll need to centralize file sharing in a hybrid Microsoft Cloud environment, you'll undoubtedly want to consider what solutions to use for backup and antivirus. We strongly recommend you take a look at our unified management and security platform for the Microsoft hybrid cloud. It offers a multitude of helpful features including the ability to:

  • Back up to the private cloud and quickly restore workloads
  • Scan for viruses and malware using industry-leading signatures
  • Migrate VMs between and across private cloud environments
  • Centrally manage multiple private cloud tenants
  • Automatically monitor private cloud workloads and hosts
Learn More: 5nine Cloud Security
Learn More: 5nine Cloud Manager
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Maria Talley

Maria Talley

Maria is a strategic marketer who brings over a decade of digital marketing experience to 5nine. As a software industry insider, she brings a fresh voice and insight into content development projects at 5nine. Maria enjoys making complex topics accessible and engaging to various audiences by addressing their pain points and tailoring solutions that help IT professionals optimize and streamline their business processes.

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