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WHS 2011 Corrupted Backups


Technogod

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Technogod

I've had multiple occasions where WHS 2011 corrupted my backups. I've determined it wasn't a network issue. I've yet to see a case where WHS 2011 was able to repair corrupted backups. I no longer trust WHS 2011 to backup my precious data. I'd like to share my new backup strategy using Acronis True Image.

 

There are a couple of gotchas when using Acronis True Image.

1) If your computer crashes and doesn't perform a proper shutdown you need to run chkdsk with automatically fix errors checked or when you validate your Acronis TI archive it will be corrupted.

2)Don't copy your Acronis TI archives from the original location to another location or when you validate your Acronis TI archive it will be corrupted. Note: This is a recommendation from Acronis Support.

3)I'm using a Vantec NexStar 3 3.5" SATA to USB 2.0 & eSATA External Hard Drive Enclosure and it was causing my Intel DG45ID motherboard to hang during reboot. Add-in card listed below fixed this problem.

 

I'm using Acronis True Image Home 2012 on WHS and Acronis True Image Home 11 on my four clients. Only Acronis True Image Home 2012 will load on WHS 2011. I have two eSATA external hard drives. One for daily backups and one for weekly offsite backup. My motherboard has one eSATA port and I added a Syba SD-SA2PEX-1E1I PCIe Internal SATA2 e-SATA SIL3132. Note: The eSATA port on this card isn't removable because of a driver issue. You have to shut down the Server to remove it. This also allowed me to add another internal hard drive to my Server. Note: When using either the motherboard or the add-in card eSATA ports I had to remove a small amount of plastic from the connector to get a good connection.

 

I've created two folders on my Server for the Server and each of my four clients backups. One for daily backups and one for weekly backups which reside on the two external hard drives. I've scheduled daily and weekly backups on my Server and each of my four clients. I password protected my backups for offsite security.

 

Since I was now storing my Server and Client backups on external hard drives I no longer needed a 1TB system drive in my Server. I restored my Acronis TI 2012 Server archive to a 320GB hard drive and used my 1TB drive as one of my external hard drives.

Edited by Technogod
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jcollison

I see in older posts that you are using Stablebit Drive pool on your 2011 box. Did you try doing all your backups without DP installed? Did you also try them with only internal drives? Since I am the king of external drives, I know the problems they can created sometimes.

 

I use a Drobo S as the storage pool for my current WHS 2011 box. If there is no activity for 30 minutes, it spins the drives down to save power. If the box tries to read or write to these drives when it is spun down, it looks like it is not there for 2 to 3 seconds. I know this is not your configuration, but you might want to make sure you have ruled out your external drives as part of the problem.

 

I have also not had very good luck with eSATA on WHS 2011. Could never get it working correctly with my installs. Not saying its not possible, just that I had trouble.

 

Keep the group posted on your Acronis solution. Might be a good alternative for those not wanting to use 2011 backup.

 

Good catching you in the chat room.

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I agree with Jim. Loose the eSata as it is known to be problematic. If you "have" to have external, then use USB 3. The clients should be backing up to an internal drive and TI to a different drive for ease of restore. That is my two cents.

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I feel I need to provide a counter-balance viewpoint to this discussion. I'm using eSATA for my 'nearline' storage. I have been since WHSv1.

 

By 'nearline' I mean the place where I keep the primary backup of my 'online' storage.

 

With WHSv1 I had a MediaSonic Pro 4-bay external eSATA box attached to my Acer H340. The primary storage was in the H340 of course. Every night, a Scheduled Task would run a RoboCopy batch file that would copy all the data (including client PC backup files) from the H340's internal storage to the external eSATA MediaSonce box.

 

With WHS2011 I have a Lian-Li EX-503 external box. I originally tried to use it in USB3 mode. Unfortunately, I was recycling an old Core 2 Duo mobo for the WHS2011 and it had no onboard USB3 ports. So, I installed a StarTech PCIe add-in USB3 card. Well, the performance was terrible. I tried a bunch of drivers, but it didn't get any better. Finally, I relented and went back to eSATA mode. This has been working well since late last summer.

 

I do have 2 major caveats with eSATA.

  1. Unlike USB, eSATA does not reliably discover drives when they're first connected to a computer, at least not if the computer is already running. To reliably detect a drive the first time, you have to boot the system with the drive connected. Once the system knows about a specific eSATA drive, you can disconnect and reconnect it, as long as you ensure you reconnect it to the same port it was connected to before. Also, if you reboot the server without an eSATA drive connected, it will forget about that drive and you will have to repeat the process of connecting the drive and rebooting for it to be discovered again. IOW, it only 'remembers' drives for the current session.
  2. Again, unlike USB, there is no 'remove drive' feature for eSATA. What you have to do to safely disconnect an eSATA drive is 1) ensure the drive is set for 'quick removal' in Drive Properties and 2) make sure there is no current activity to the eSATA drive when you go to disconnect it.

All of that said, I think it's important to emphasize that I only use eSATA for backup; it is not used for the full-time 'online' storage that the WHS depends on.

 

I completely understand anyone who says, "Are you kidding? That sounds way too dicey for my data; I would never trust such a system". All I can say is, with the caveats I outlined in mind, I have been successfully using eSATA on my WHS boxes for nearly 3 years. Are the caveats a PITA? You bet! Would I rather use USB3? You bet! Will I try USB3 again when I have a mobo with onboard USB3, or when a reliable, good performing USB3 add-in card comes on the market? You bet! However, used as I've described, I've found eSATA to be fast and reliable. I have never had a data corruption or any other similar issue.

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Technogod

I was using the internal system drive for my client backups when the backups would intermittently become corrupted. I was using the external drive for Server backups. The Server backups were also getting corrupted but that turned out to be a defective external drive. Before the backups were corrupted I tried to restore my wife's laptop and it hung part of the way through. This is also why I no longer trust WHS with my precious data.

 

ikon if your BIOS is set for AHCI you should have the safely remove hardware icon in the tray. I've seen where driver issues can cause this icon not to show up. My add-in card for example. Since I've added folders to the Server that reside on the external drive I sometimes receive a message saying drive is in use try again later. Then I have to power the Server off to remove the external drive.

 

Now that I've gotten the bugs worked out of Acronis TI, I love it and it's dependable. I had no way to validate WHS backups as being dependable. Now if my backup passes validation I shouldn't have a problem restoring it.

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jcollison

So are you still going to use WHS 2011 as a server then to host your Acronis backups? At $50, it makes a cheap server.

 

Keep us posted on your progress. Couple screenshots and a short write up would be awesome.

 

Jim

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I feel I need to provide a counter-balance viewpoint to this discussion. I'm using eSATA for my 'nearline' storage. I have been since WHSv1.

 

By 'nearline' I mean the place where I keep the primary backup of my 'online' storage.

 

With WHSv1 I had a MediaSonic Pro 4-bay external eSATA box attached to my Acer H340. The primary storage was in the H340 of course. Every night, a Scheduled Task would run a RoboCopy batch file that would copy all the data (including client PC backup files) from the H340's internal storage to the external eSATA MediaSonce box.

 

With WHS2011 I have a Lian-Li EX-503 external box. I originally tried to use it in USB3 mode. Unfortunately, I was recycling an old Core 2 Duo mobo for the WHS2011 and it had no onboard USB3 ports. So, I installed a StarTech PCIe add-in USB3 card. Well, the performance was terrible. I tried a bunch of drivers, but it didn't get any better. Finally, I relented and went back to eSATA mode. This has been working well since late last summer.

 

I do have 2 major caveats with eSATA.

  1. Unlike USB, eSATA does not reliably discover drives when they're first connected to a computer, at least not if the computer is already running. To reliably detect a drive the first time, you have to boot the system with the drive connected. Once the system knows about a specific eSATA drive, you can disconnect and reconnect it, as long as you ensure you reconnect it to the same port it was connected to before. Also, if you reboot the server without an eSATA drive connected, it will forget about that drive and you will have to repeat the process of connecting the drive and rebooting for it to be discovered again. IOW, it only 'remembers' drives for the current session.
  2. Again, unlike USB, there is no 'remove drive' feature for eSATA. What you have to do to safely disconnect an eSATA drive is 1) ensure the drive is set for 'quick removal' in Drive Properties and 2) make sure there is no current activity to the eSATA drive when you go to disconnect it.

All of that said, I think it's important to emphasize that I only use eSATA for backup; it is not used for the full-time 'online' storage that the WHS depends on.

 

I completely understand anyone who says, "Are you kidding? That sounds way too dicey for my data; I would never trust such a system". All I can say is, with the caveats I outlined in mind, I have been successfully using eSATA on my WHS boxes for nearly 3 years. Are the caveats a PITA? You bet! Would I rather use USB3? You bet! Will I try USB3 again when I have a mobo with onboard USB3, or when a reliable, good performing USB3 add-in card comes on the market? You bet! However, used as I've described, I've found eSATA to be fast and reliable. I have never had a data corruption or any other similar issue.

 

 

I agree that many people have had success as you have with eSata especially if they follow the safe computing that you described. That said, in the approximately 15+ eSata installations in the past several years, only a few were what I would consider problem free. Things from delayed start up (sometimes freezing), hangs during operations, performance issues, cable problems, and of course my favorite, intermittent file corruption have cropped up at one time or another. For that reason I cannot recommend this technology to anyone. Obviously if anyone has had good luck with it and they take precautions, awesome, but I have been tainted and do not have the "faith", so I choose to stay as far away as I possible can from it. Thanks for the counter-point as I tend to be a bit binary on hardware.

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I agree that many people have had success as you have with eSata especially if they follow the safe computing that you described. That said, in the approximately 15+ eSata installations in the past several years, only a few were what I would consider problem free. Things from delayed start up (sometimes freezing), hangs during operations, performance issues, cable problems, and of course my favorite, intermittent file corruption have cropped up at one time or another. For that reason I cannot recommend this technology to anyone. Obviously if anyone has had good luck with it and they take precautions, awesome, but I have been tainted and do not have the "faith", so I choose to stay as far away as I possible can from it. Thanks for the counter-point as I tend to be a bit binary on hardware.

 

Absolutely. My past bad experiences certainly influence my choices too. My only goal was to 'round out' the conversation.

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I've noticed that Intel RST software resolves a lot of drive detection issues in windows 7, however I'm not sure if it is available for 2008 server or whs 2011, and non intel chipsets/ raid controllers may be an issue.

 

On windows 7 if intel RST is installed I can safely hot swap esata & sata drives.

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