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248 posts

Master Geek
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Topic # 30028 27-Jan-2009 11:26
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I've recently bought an external USB drive so that I could back up my WHS and keep the data offsite.

I began the backup process only to find that I can only backup my shared folders, and apparently could not backup the the backups of my other PCs on the network. I have a laptop, a desktop and a HTPC that I want to protect as well. I kind of assumed that the WHS backup would keep everything safe.

Am I mistaken, or is there some cunning way to protect all my data?

Cheers
Jon




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  Reply # 192237 27-Jan-2009 11:42
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Jonski: I have a laptop, a desktop and a HTPC that I want to protect as well. I kind of assumed that the WHS backup would keep everything safe.


In addition to my previous reply... Well it does keep everything safe but it is not an offsite backup solution.

What you are looking for is a backup of a backup - a bit more than the original solution offered by Windows Home Server.

I actually have my data all copied to Mozy Backup as well to my Windows Home Server. Using external HDD to create offsite backup is a pain - you will have to copy things, unplug the drive and take it somewhere else. Then five minutes after you've done this you already have new data. You will now need to retrieve the drive from this othe location, plug and copy the data.

Rinse and repeat.

This is just not worth it. I have my Windows Home Server as the central media storage at home with all iTunes downloads (movies, music) and photos stored there, plus full backups of my PCs. But I still have an off site, online backup with Mozy. It's transparent and you don't have to do anything...




 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 192389 27-Jan-2009 22:27
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This highlights one of the main flaws with WHS - you can't make a full backup of the server.  However, you can make a full backup of your shares. (I back up to a tape drive on my PC using Retrospect and keep a tape offsite.)  But I guess I'm not too worried about my PC backups as I can do another backup of the PCs if WHS goes down and I need to reinstall it.  It's the data that I'm really worried about.




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Reply # 192395 27-Jan-2009 23:17
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WHS is a backup device and a storage device. When used as a backup device it just... works. However you want an offsite backup and this was never the proposition for this product. I never worried about the backup database because I have everything in two places automatically - at home and online.

This is the same flaw you would find on an Apple Time Capsule device for example - the backup is automatic and you can't copy the backup to a backup.

The question is what is the difference you see between a "backup of backup" and a second backup on another device (online backup)? And do you think WHS is flawed because it doesn't offer a backup of backup natively (even though there is a way of doing it as pointed out)?





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  Reply # 192413 28-Jan-2009 07:20
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IMHO to call a product a "server" and then not to include, either natively or through a 3rd party, a backup solution is a flaw.  I think that WHS is a great product and I'd have one just for its PC backup capabilities.  But I really don't like the backup issues and that WHS relies on a single disk for the system drive if you follow Microsoft's installation recommendations. 

So I guess I've adopted some business technology in my implementation.  I run WHS on a low end Dell server with two 750 GB mirrored drives.  And guess what - one of the disks failed a few months ago.   So all I had to do was replace it and rebuild the mirror overnight. 




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  Reply # 192414 28-Jan-2009 07:30
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The idea behind Windows Home Server is to avoid this "business technology" and make it easy for consumer market.

There's a built-in safeguard mechanism called Duplication. You can select which shared folders will be duplicated. For enhanced security you should have at least two drives, of the same size. In my case I have four 500GB drives, one 320GB drive, and two 160GB drives.

The OS implements a mechanism called Balancing that will manage the file allocation and try to put those files on discs different than the system disc.

With duplication enabled it means you have mirroring working on a different level - folder level, not entire disc level. Also those data discs are not visible as drive letters, but as shares only. All transparent to user so they don't have to worry about that "business technology".

If you have a problem with one of those data discs you simply replace the failed one and it will rebuilt itself. If you have a problem with the system drive you just replace the failed drive and install the server with Restore Server option selected in the first dialog.

The install process will create a new system disc and rebuild the shares based on the informaton from the data discs.

I have done a reinstall this week because I wanted to replace the system disc with a faster one. I shutdown the server, pulled the old disc out, connected the new one and ran the OS install. After a couple of hours the system was up and I didn't lose any of my data.

You see, there's redundancy built-in that will guarantee your data is safe unless you have a catastrophic failure - which is possible to happen even with hardwared RAID.

As for backup solution, there are two: using Power Pack 1 update (which is available on Windows Update) you can make external copies of all or selected shares. And as I pointed out there's a third party that will do a backup of the backup database.

These solutions (one built-in and another external) will allow you to have external off site backups - but I believe it's a damn hard process to keep moving data manually when there's ways to have on-line real-time backup available over the Internet.




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  Reply # 192437 28-Jan-2009 10:30
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Thanks for your reply.  One thing I didn't mention was at the time I put the server together, the WHS data corruption issue hadn't been resolved and running on mirrored drives seemed like the safest solution.  But if I was going to build a server tomorrow, I'd use two smallish, fast disks in a mirrored configuration for the system drive, and then add additional disks and let WHS manage them.  My server has a dual core Xeon, 1 GB of ECC RAM and a dedicated RAID card, so the performance is great.  The box cost about $1,000 from Dell, plus another $300 for the 750 GB drives.

I've been involved with PC-based servers of and on for 20 years now, going back to Novell Netware 2.11!  So I expect a server to have some kind of disk redundancy and I really like to have my data backed up onto a tape.  So please excuse me if I have trouble accepting some aspects of WHS.

But I am very happy with WHS at home.  As a PC backup solution when you have 6 (or is it 7?) computers, there is simply nothing else that compares.  And it does a perfectly good job of file sharing with a wonderfully simple security implementation.  Finally, the remote access to the shared files and my home PC is the icing on the cake.  I just hope that Microsoft continue to develop and support this product.




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Reply # 192440 28-Jan-2009 10:40
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They will continue. Currently there's a private beta (which I am participating on) which is a continuation to Power Pack 1. It's called Snoqualmie in some circles. I can't be more specific but it implements a few new tricks...




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  Reply # 192447 28-Jan-2009 11:20
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And a quick search found that WHS V2 is due sometime next year and will be based on Server 2008.




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  Reply # 192455 28-Jan-2009 12:14
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Thanks Mauricio!

I think I'll try the We Got Served solution and see what happens.

I really like the WHS automatic backups- I used it on Monday to recover some emails for my wife so was happy there.

However, I'm noticing the shortcoming that storing documents locally on a pc is turning into a Bad IdeaTM, as although it's backed up, it's not accessible for easy offsite storage. The case I have is photos from the digital camera, loaded onto the laptop that has 802.11g back to WHS. It's slow enough to not want to bother, and just access the photos locally.

The chances of losing a lone PC is low, so conventional backup to WHS is fine, but I'm thinking of Disaster Recovery here, where something catastrophic happens and we lose all the photos, emails and everything else in one hit. That's when offsite storage comes into its own. Since WHS is touted as a backup solution, I'm sorry to find out that it's only a partial solution.

Another case in point is PST files. MS doesn't recommend storing them remotely, and over a wireless LAN connection they would corrupt in seconds anyway, but although they're backed up to WHS, they aren't proteced further. I could set up xcopy to do this kind of stuff, but then I'm storing the data twice on WHS, and the copy will fail if Outlook is open on the laptop. And do I want to xcopy a 400Mb data file daily on a WLAN because a few Mb have changed?

Anyway, rant over. I'm gonna do my WHS BDBB!

Cheers
Jon




I reject your reality and substitute my own!
- Adam Savage, Mythbuster

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Reply # 192456 28-Jan-2009 12:16
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And that's the cool thing about Mozy. I have a 5GB PST file (in addition to 3GB on my Exchange Server) and it only creates copies of the blocks that have changed - a few MB a day after the first big backup...

Keep an eye on things to come.






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  Reply # 192471 28-Jan-2009 13:13
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Mauricio,

When does your NDA lapse? Do you like skiing in North America?? Wink

Cheers
Jon




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- Adam Savage, Mythbuster

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  Reply # 192487 28-Jan-2009 13:51
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  Reply # 192494 28-Jan-2009 14:23
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Both WHS codenames Vail and Snoqualmie are ski resorts.

It's an interesting dilemma re storing data in WHS shares vs. the end PC and I'm not sure that there is a "right" answer, but certainly since I consolidated most of my data onto WHS shares, I have been doing a backup of the shares to an external drive, so that I don't have a single point of failure. Took me a while to realise that they were actually incremental and were not consuming 185GB of space on the external drive each time I performed one. I haven't quite got my head around exactly how it "links" the files because when you browse the external drive via Windows explorer, each backup looks like a complete set of files for each share. However, after the first one it defintely is only copying changed files.

Mozy looks worth investigating though Mauricio.

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Reply # 192678 29-Jan-2009 10:11
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allan: Both WHS codenames Vail and Snoqualmie are ski resorts.


Oh yes... I know the relationship - just had a blank empty space in my mind when I read the post. Ooops.




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