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Virtualized WHS for Client Backups


christoman
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After many hours trying to get WHS to install natively on my server (to no avail), I punted and installed WS2008 R2 Standard. I think I will have with this pretty much everything I need except automatic client backups.

 

I haven't done anything before with virtualization, but I was thinking about installing WHS 2011 under a Hyper-V VM just for client backups. I was planning allocating 2-4GB of RAM and would like to store the PC backups on an existing 6TB RAID5 array as dynamically sized VHD. Any experience or recommendations with this strategy?

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If you're really going with Server 2008 R2, then you might want to look into 3rd party backup tools, like Acronis. I can't really see installing an entire server like WHS2011 just to get backups.

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There is an advantage of using WHS if you want the ease of Remote Access. Create the Virtual server by allocating 160 gigs of space for the server and then point the server folders to either passed thru USB storage or physical space on the host.

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There is an advantage of using WHS if you want the ease of Remote Access. Create the Virtual server by allocating 160 gigs of space for the server and then point the server folders to either passed thru USB storage or physical space on the host.

 

I just use RDP for remote access. I've used the web-based remote access but found it lacking compared to RDP. Yes, I do have to configure my router but I actually find that easier to do than set up the remote web access account.

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After many hours trying to get WHS to install natively on my server (to no avail), I punted and installed WS2008 R2 Standard. I think I will have with this pretty much everything I need except automatic client backups.

 

I haven't done anything before with virtualization, but I was thinking about installing WHS 2011 under a Hyper-V VM just for client backups. I was planning allocating 2-4GB of RAM and would like to store the PC backups on an existing 6TB RAID5 array as dynamically sized VHD. Any experience or recommendations with this strategy?

 

Couple of suggestions.

WHS with Hyper-V works great and should do a great job with 3-4 Gigs or RAM. If you are going to pass through a RAID 5 make sure it is on separate controller (safer, faster, more compatible, and more portable if something goes wrong). As ikon stated, I would use a "blend" of WHS backup and a third party for a couple of reasons. Something like Acronis will off better compatibility with RAID, not have the 3T limit, and make it easier to recover you WHS. The problem is Acronis True Image does NOT support Server 2008R2 even though it does support WHS 2011. I would use Acronis on your server and other critical boxes, then use WHS for all the rest of your clients. Just my two cents. As a side note, why where you not able to install WHS? I would try and resolve that as it should be straightforward except for the network drive thing.

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Thanks to all for the feedback. Acronis looks like a good possible option, just gets expensive given the family licence only covers 3 PCs. I still have my HP EX475 WHS v1 box, so I could still use that just for backup as well or virtualize WHS V1. The appealing thing about V1 is that DE makes it easier to add storage for PC backups over time. On the other hand, the OS is getting a little long in the tooth since it is based on Server 2003.

 

This server has been a nightmare to get going from the beginning. I bought a HP Proliant ML110 P7 and after some brief difficulty was able to get WHS 2011 installed. Over Christmas break I decided to make the cut-over once the users and data were copied from the MSS box. I couldn't get the connector to install on any machine (got the unexpected error message). I tried everything I could find on the web as a possible remedy (I was shocked at how common this problem was). As a last resort I decided to reinstall WHS as some people did that to fix the problem. At this point, WHS would not reinstall on a clean unpartitioned drive (dreaded "ERROR: Win7 Setup exited with 31"). Tried everything short of holding a seance to resolve it. Finally decided to go with Server 2008 and it installed without too much of a hitch (it isn't recognizing my RAID eSATA card, but hopefully I will get that resolved soon). Definitely came away feeling that WHS 2011 is not ready for prime time at least for setup. These two issues that I had both seemed to be very common based upon my searching. Of course, I am assuming that WHS 2011 will install properly in a VM, which at this point is not a guarantee based upon my experience.

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Check for BIOS updates on your board for that RAID card to run. Install Hyper-V role, run the setup for WHS and never look back. Allocate about 4 gigs of RAM and you can pass thru an external USB drive for client backups.

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I'm just glad I haven't really run into these issues. The one thing I ran into was not being able to install WHS2011 as long as my 3Ware RAID card was installed. I removed the RAID card, installed WHS2011 onto a RAID1 array on the onboard Intel ICH chipset, and then installed the 3Ware card after WHS2011 was up and running. It's a cludge, but it works.

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Guest no-control

I don't quite understand what the issue was???

 

 

If WS2k8R2 installed then WHS shouldn't have an issue either. Since you're not providing the exact specifications of the server I can only guess wildly what your problem is. Perhaps you're trying to install WHS2011 on a machine with more than 8 GB of RAM. Or maybe you need to slipstream drivers into he install due to odd hardware selection. Corrupt install image. Networking issues etc...

 

Getting back to the other points, a VM of WHS will handle client backups just fine. Not sure what acronis would be useful for other than backing up the VM's and the host server. It's a single box so no need to buy a license for each client. I've never heard of an issue for connector software outside of general network issues.

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no-control, the original issues were getting WHS 2011 running natively, not as a VM. First it was getting the connector installed (was getting "unknown error"). If you google "whs 2011 connector unknown error" you will get many hits for the same issue. There doesn't seem to be a universal solution. Some disabled IPV6, uninstalled .NET 4 framework, enable/disable WMP media services, on and on. I tried everything to no avail. No diagnostic info is given so you are grasping for straws.

 

One of the resolutions to this for some people was actually re-installing WHS itself. Since I had run out of opions, I tried that as well. This is where I ran into my next problem - "win7 setup exited with error 31". Again, did a search and found a number of people with the same issue. Tried a number of things - install from USB drive, checksum on ISO image, etc. The only change vs. the previous install was a eSATA/RAID card. I pulled this to make sure it wasn't part of the problem.

 

After I'm guess 24+ wasted hours of trying to resolve this, I concluded it wasn't worth the effort. Server 2008 installed on the first try, and I suspect I will not have issues running WHS in a VM. It may be unfair, but this is why I concluded that WHS is fragile from an install perspective. Like I said, if you factor in the very small installed base of WHS 2011, the number of issues people have getting it up and running was very surprising to me. Even more than that, I found it unforgivable that so little information is given for a failure so your hands are tied in terms of identifying real root cause.

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