Dynamics 365 Business Central: point in time restore of a Production environment

Yesterday Microsoft has officially released one of the most requested feature for the Dynamics 365 Business Central SaaS environment: point in time restore for environments.

If you access your tenant’s Admin Center and select an environment, now you can see the following option:

The new Restore option permits you to restore an existing environment from a time in the past, within the 30-day retention period. An environment can only be restored within the same Business Central version (minor and major), with some rules and limitations:

  • A production environment can be restored to either a Production or Sandbox type environment. A sandbox environment can only be restored to a Sandbox type environment (you cannot restore a Sandbox to a Production environment).
  • Each environment can be restored up to 10 times in a calendar month and only if you have a paid subscription.
  • You cannot restore a deleted environment (please remember this!)
  • An environment can only be restored within the same Azure region and country (Business Central localization) as the original environment.
  • Per-tenant extensions that were already installed will be available in the restored environment, except for extensions that you have deployed via Visual Studio Code.
  • AppSource extensions will be installed and they will receive the lates available update present on AppSource.

Restoring an environment is quite simple: just select the environment to restore, the point in time to restore and then select the target environment where the restore will be performed (Sandbox or Production).

Remember than:

  • You can restore to sandbox if the number of sandbox created does not exceed the permitted number (3 for environments)
  • You can restore your production environment into a new production environment even if doing so results in exceeding your number of environments or database capacity quotas. You can however only exceed this quota by one extra production environment, regardless of how many production environments you have available for your subscription.

One of the restore processes that I think needs a bit more of explanation is when you need to restore a Production environment after a damage. Imagine that a user now has totally delete his company’s super important data, the company business is now blocked and you need to immediately repair to this damage.

To restore a production environment to a point in time before the damage, you need to do a set of steps as follows. The important thing to remember is that in this case (this is your main production environment!) you need to maintain the same environment name when restoring the environment or you could break connections, web services, APIs and so on.

The first step is to RENAME the damaged production environment with a new name (here I’m renaming it as DoNotUse):

During the rename opertion, the environment is disconnected from the Business Central service and then reconnected with the new name (DoNotUse becomes active):

Now you can restore the renamed production environment (DoNotUse in my sample) to a new point in time BEFORE the damage. The restore must be done on a new environment with the same previous production environment name (in my case, Production):

From the Operations section in the Admin Center you can see the list of administrative operations on the environment (+ details if you click on the Status field) and you can see that a restore is first scheduled and then completed.

When the restore process is finished, you have two production environments in place:

  • DoNotUse: the old production environment with the damage
  • Production: the new restored production environment to the selected point in time

Now you can move data between the two environments if needed (for example if you need to move deltas of some tables and so on).

When you’re ready to go with your restore process, you can delete the old DoNotUse environment. Deletion must be confirmed (remember that it’s not possible to restore a deleted environment):

Now the damage is repaired and your restored Production environment is ready to go

These are the correct steps to restore a damaged main production environment. Please remember this if you don’t want breaking connections.

An answer here also to a common question: what about if I delete a company? What can I do?

I think that if you delete a company, restoring in a point in time back is a good solution.

Happy restoring (although I hope you never need to use this feature)

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