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Use AWS Datasync to Migrate your On-premise Windows File Server to Amazon FSx

Use AWS Datasync to Migrate your On-premise Windows File Server to Amazon FSx

Migrate to AWS FSx

Maintaining an on-premise Windows file server involves numerous time consuming tasks and their associated costs, including the original costs of purchasing the hardware and software, additional costs for hardware and software updates, hiring staff to maintain the system updates, patching, backing up, monitoring and so on. This post will teach you how to Migrate to AWS FSx for Windows.

Most businesses now want their IT staff to spend less time managing servers and more time helping colleagues achieve strategic and business goals. The solution is to reduce the amount of time and money associated with maintaining their Windows file storage infrastructure by moving to a cloud solution that offers a fully managed file service solution.

Amazon FSx for Windows File Server was created to meet these needs. Amazon FSx provides fully managed, highly reliable, and scalable file storage that is accessible over the industry-standard Server Message Block (SMB) protocol.

AWS DataSync makes it easy for you to move data over the network between on-premises storage and AWS storage services. DataSync automates both the management of data transfer processes and the infrastructure required for high-performance, secure data transfer. Use AWS DataSync to migrate  data from your Windows file storage infrastructure to Amazon FSx.  AWS DataSync automates the data migration tasks over prior methods of using Robocopy, WinRAR, or copying the files manually.

What is Amazon FSx for Windows File Server?

AWS provides a fully managed, native Windows file server solution that takes over underlying infrastructure while still providing native Windows file server features. AWS created Amazon FSx for Windows File Server (Amazon FSx) to provide fully managed SMB-based file storage for Windows applications and workloads. The SMB protocol  allows computers to read and write files to a remote host over a local area network (LAN). The directories on the remote hosts made available via SMB are called “shares.” With Amazon FSx, AWS manages the underlying hardware, software, and operations, including servers, storage, patching, availability, durability, encryption, monitoring, backups, and more.

How the Migration works

Prior migration methodology involved mostly manual options.  AWS DataSync is a fully managed data migration service to help migrate data from on-site systems to Amazon FSx and other storage services. DataSync retains the Windows file properties and permissions and allows incremental delta transfers so that the migration can happen over time, copying over only the data that has changed. In addition, DataSync enables high-speed transfer through its use of compression and its parallel transfer mechanism, while also giving customers the ability to control the amount of bandwidth used during transfers.

The following is a high level overview of the four steps required to set up, install, configure and run the AWS DataSync migration service:

Step 1 – Create the Amazon FSx for Windows File Server System

Amazon FSx will be the target storage system for the files. By joining the file system to your existing Active Directory, the file permissions are the same in Amazon FSx as they are on-site. The result is that all users have the same file access as defined in Active Directory.

We have two options in terms of joining the file system to Active Directory:

  • We can either join directly to your existing on-prem Active Directory, or
  • Set up a two-way trust with Managed AWS Directory Service.

In both scenarios, the secure method of connection to your on-premise environment would be to use a site to site VPN which allows for a secure connection from your datacenter to the Amazon Web Services Cloud.

When you create the file system, Amazon FSx allows you to specify:

  • How large a file system to create (32 GiB to 65,535 GiB)
  • The type of storage (SSD or HDD)
  • How much throughput performance to allocate

To help you set throughput performance, the service provides a recommended throughput capacity based upon the storage capacity that you set. However, you still have the option to customize it for your application’s specific needs.

  • The deployment mode (Single-AZ or Multi-AZ)

We recommend that you deploy a Multi-AZ architecture that instructs Amazon FSx to do block level replication of your data from one AWS Availability Zone to a second Availability Zone.

  • The Window authentication mode
  • AWS Managed Microsoft Active Directory or
  • Self-managed Microsoft Active Directory (if you have an existing Active Directory)

See sample screenshot below for configuration:


Step 2 – Install the AWS DataSync Agent

AWS recommends installing the DataSync agent close in network connectivity to the source file system. AWS provides an image that you can deploy to install this agent onto your on-premises environment.

You can select how you want to communicate from the DataSync agent to the DataSync service by selecting the service endpoint.  The two most common options are to communicate over the internet using the public service endpoints or over a private connection using the VPC endpoints using AWS PrivateLink.


Once you deploy the agent, you must register the agent with the DataSync service by entering the name or IP address of the agent.

Step 3 – Configure the DataSync Task from Source to Target

Create a task that sets the source location, destination location, and migration settings. It is important to create the DataSync migration task in the same AWS Region as the target storage location.

  • Specify the source location.Since you are migrating data from SMB file storage, select the Server Message Block (SMB) option, then specify your DataSync agent.specify-fsx-migration-source
  • Specify the destination location


You must also specify an account that has rights to write data to the Amazon FSx file system. To ensure sufficient permissions to files, folders, and file metadata, we recommend that you pick a user that is a member of the Amazon FSx file system’s delegated administrators group

  • Specify the DataSync task settings


Step 4 – Run the DataSync Task

Once you have specified the task setting and created the DataSync task, it then runs on the schedule that you specified. You can also start the task manually under Actions, Start.


You should now see your files appearing on the Amazon FSx file system:



You have completed the steps required to Migrate to AWS FSx from your on-premise Fileshare.

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