Tagged by 'blob'

  • I like to keep my blob containers quite tidy and delete any files that would unnecessarily increase its size. For a project I was working on, I had a blob that was being used to temporarily store images a user uploaded for manipulation at a later time. I saw no reason to keep these files for no longer than 24 hours. An Azure WebJob seemed an ideal solution to do this.

    I could've left the blob container to stagnate and fester over time and the reasoning behind creating a cleanup task wasn't from a cost point of view. A blob container is very reasonably priced for the amount of storage and requests I would be making. I was more concerned about performance for times where I would be trawling through many thousands of files to get back the image a user had uploaded for temporary use by my web application.

    Creating an Azure WebJob is very easy and versatile. You have the flexibility to develop a WebJob by creating the following scripts or programs:

    • .cmd, .bat, .exe (using windows cmd)
    • .ps1 (using powershell)
    • .sh (using bash)
    • .php (using php)
    • .py (using python)
    • .js (using node)
    • .jar (using java)

    In this post, I will be developing my WebJob using a Console Application that will generate an executable. In Visual Studio 2017, there are two ways you can go about creating a project for your WebJob:

    1. Console Application project
    2. Selecting Azure WebJob project - which you will find under the "Cloud" category.

    If you create your WebJob using a Console Application, you will still have the option later on to "Publish as an Azure WebJob..." when right-clicking on the project. In the code below I happened to be using a Console Application only because I didn't even know a Azure WebJob project existed until after I completed development on my project. Doh!


    I have created a new project called "Site.AzueWebJob.Cleanup". The project uses the following two Azure nuget packages:

    namespace Site.AzureWebJob.Cleanup
        class Program
            static void Main(string[] args)
                    CloudStorageAccount storageAccount = CloudStorageAccount.Parse("<Insert Storage Connection String Here>");
                    CloudBlobClient blobClient = storageAccount.CreateCloudBlobClient();
                    CloudBlobContainer dataContainer = blobClient.GetContainerReference("<Blob container name>");
                    Console.WriteLine("Hourly threshold to remove records: {0}", ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["Azure.CleanupHours"]);
                    #region Retrieve all data items greater than 24 hours and delete them
                    Console.WriteLine("Retrieving old data files...");
                    // Get files where the "Last Modified Date" is olders than 24 hours.
                    IEnumerable<CloudBlob> oldData = dataContainer.ListBlobs()
                                    .Where(b => b.Properties.LastModified.Value.Date < DateTime.Now.AddHours(int.Parse(ConfigurationManager.AppSettings["Azure.CleanupHours"].ToString()) * -1));
                    IList<CloudBlob> dataBlobs = oldData as IList<CloudBlob> ?? oldData.ToList();
                    Console.WriteLine("Data records retrieved: {0}.", dataBlobs.Count);
                    Console.WriteLine("Removing old data files...");
                    // Loop through the files and delete if they exist.
                    foreach (CloudBlob dataBlob in dataBlobs)
                        bool isDeleted = dataBlob.DeleteIfExists();
                        if (isDeleted)
                            Console.WriteLine("Deleted: {0}.", dataBlob.Name);
                    Console.WriteLine("Removing old data complete.");
                catch (Exception ex)
                    Console.WriteLine("Error cleaning container files: {0}", ex.Message);
                Console.WriteLine("Clean Containers WebJob complete.");

    There isn't really much to it. All I am doing is retrieving all files that are older than 24 hours (value set within App.config app setting called: "Azure.CleanupHours") and then carrying out the delete process by looping through any records returned.

    The most safest way to delete a file is to use the CloudBlob.DeleteIfExists() call. As the method name suggests, it will only delete a file if it exists. Using the CloudBlob.Delete() will cause an exception if for some reason the file isn't there and will require additional error handling.

    Final Steps

    Now that we have our Azure WebJob ready to go, the only thing left is to publish to your Azure Web App by simply right-clicking on your project and selecting: "Publish as an Azure WebJob...". Here you will connect to your Azure instance and have the options to choose how your WebJob should run:

    • Continuously
    • On Demand
    • On Schedule
  • Having developed quite a few websites in Azure, there are some key tools I found that made my life easier when accessing all areas of my Azure cloud instance. The great thing about the selection of tools I have listed below is that it gives me access to all the features I need wrapped in a nice interface.

    So lets get to it!

    Azure Storage Explorer

    Azure Storage Explorer is a useful tool for inspecting and altering the data in your Azure storage projects, including the logs of your cloud-hosted applications. This includes:

    • Blobs
    • Queues
    • Tables

    Unlike some of the previous storage explorer software I've used in the past, Azure Storage Explorer allows you to preview a blob directly through its interface, such as: Images, Video or Text files. So you don't have to waste time downloading a blob just to check if its been generated correctly. Amazing time saver!

    Once you have your storage set up within your Azure account, you can use this application to manage everything: create, view, copy, rename and delete all three types of storage types (listed above).

    Azure Storage Explorer

    An application as full featured as this shouldn't be free. But luckily for us, it is.


    Azure User Management Console

    Azure User Management Console manages the users and logins of an Azure SQL database. The tool is simply converting your action into T-SQL commands and execute them against an Azure database of your choice.

    Azure User Management Console

    What some beginner Azure developers do is they use the same master credentials that is assigned to the database on creation within their web application too. Of course, this master user has full "db_owner" privileges against the database. Not a good idea! This application allows you to create a new new user with restricted access access levels really easily.


    Redgate SQL Azure Backup

    One thing I found lacking in Azure SQL databases is the ease of creating a regular backup. There doesn't seem to be an automated way to do this directly through the Azure account.

    I've been toying around with Redgate's Azure backup service and that seems to do the job quite nicely. But it does come at a price. For a daily backup on one database will cost around £7 per month.

    Full range of backup plans:


    Whenever I needed to take a quick look at any of my blob containers, Azure Storage Explorer would suffice for majority of cases. However, the only thing I've started noticing with Azure Storage Explorer is that it lacks the efficiency of being able to export a batch of files from a blob to local storage with ease.

    CloudXplorer by ClumsyLeaf Software made browsing files within my blob container a breeze. All files were organised and displayed in a folder structure allowing me to download specific directories. The slick UI alone makes CloudXplorer a pleasure to use, especially if you have blob that is large in volume.

    I have downloaded around 200MB worth of files from one of my blobs to a local drive without any issue.