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File History/Storage Spaces vs WHS2011


Rensul

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I'm considering replacing my WHS2011 server with a dedicated Windows 8 box that will serve as a centralized File History repository for all of my kids PCs (x4) as well as my own (x2). I would use Storage Spaces for disk redundancy.

 

The only thing missing is the image-based backup that WHS2011 provides but I keep hearing that Windows 8 Refresh/Restore can accomplish the same thing when combined with File History. Not sure how that works if your fully replacing a failed OS drive - how do you get Windows 8 back... Regardless I'm sure I'm missing something there so I'll assume that's true.

 

Some positives include:

  • File History automatically backs up Skydrive - important since Skydrive doesn't retain accidentally deleted files or any sort of version history.
  • Storage Spaces gets back most of the Drive Extender functionality and simplicity
  • File History has a better interface for browsing and restoring files
  • Represents Microsoft's future vision for handling lost/deleted files and thus their attention and presumably upcoming improvements

 

Some negatives include:

  • No image-based backup
  • ???

Any other positives or negatives?

 

Thanks,

 

Rensul

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  • gcoupe

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awraynor

I recently tried the Refresh function, it did not work. Wegotserved.com is doing a series on Windows8 as a server, check it out.

Their new ebook, WHS projects 2 also mentions this if I remember correctly.

 

Could you use Win8 as the file server and Acronis differential backups for the OS. I haven't had to do an OS restore in so long I don't worry about it too much. I also always put the OS on a separate drive or at least partition so a borked OS install doesn't make my data inaccessible.

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There’s a lot to like about the Windows 8 File History feature, but it focuses on the user’s personal data. It will only backup data held in the user’s Libraries, Desktop, Contacts and Favourites. It will completely ignore applications that have their own databases, e.g. Adobe’s Lightroom.

 

For some time, Microsoft has been telling developers to store application data in locations contained in the C:\ProgramData folder, and now the File History feature will totally ignore such files.

 

Also, user data that is not document-based is supposed to be held in locations contained in the C:\Users\Username\AppData folder. That is also ignored by the File History feature. It turns out that Microsoft’s own Windows 8 Mail App stores mail messages in the AppData folder, so File History will not backup your mail messages.

 

Microsoft seems to be assuming that we store all our mail in the Cloud, e.g. in their Hotmail Outlook service. I’ve got news for them – we don’t all do this.

Edited by gcoupe
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jmwills

Outlook has used that folder since it was released. Stupid idea.. (IMO) Just create another Library and direct the data there.

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"Just create another Library" - Sigh, yes, we now have to think about how to work around the shortcomings of Microsoft's latest whizzo idea: File History.

 

I have to sit down and make a list of applications that I use that aren't covered by File History, find out where they store their data/databases and put them in a Library. Add to that the fact that File History is file-based (not cluster-based), so each change to a file means a brand new copy of the file is stored on the backup medium. When that file happens to be a multi-GB database on my photo metadata catalog, I start running through storage at a far higher rate than I have so far had to deal with...

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Thanks for the feedback. I'm now thinking that maybe I keep WHS2011 and all of its PC backup functionality, but also create a "File History" server folder and point the Win8 PCs File History to that location - but only set it for Skydrive - I'll exclude the Libraries, Desktop, Contacts etc. since those will be backed up by WHS2011. Seems a bit convoluted I know, but it at least gives me the Skydrive version history and redundancy I'm looking for. How does that sound gcoupe...

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...It sounds a reasonable compromise. Let us know how it works out.

 

I don't use SkyDrive to store versions of files, so I won't need to use File History at all, as long as my WHS 2011 is in use. At some point in the (hopefully distant) future, when I switch off my WHS 2011, I'll have to have some sort of alternative in place. At the moment, the limitations of just using File History would seem to rule it out as an easy-to-use full replacement of the client PC backup function of WHS 2011.

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I'm surprised no one has mentioned the use of Shadow Copies........just saying.

 

According to Peter Bright, Microsoft appear to be making some changes to the Shadow Copies functionality in Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012. Quote:

 

Unfortunately, even if Shadow Copies are a better fit for how you use your system, they're not an option in Windows 8. Citing unspecified "performance issues," the ability to make persistent snapshots has been removed from Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 (though temporary snapshots, for use by backup software, remain supported). The performance of Shadow Copies has been good enough for the past 9 years, since they were introduced with Windows Server 2003, so it's a little difficult to see where the performance problem is, but the feature is now gone.

 

Update: The wording on MSDN that said that persistent snapshots have been removed from Windows 8 and Windows Server "8" (as it was once known) appears to have been removed. This is encouraging, as it implies that the underlying capability will be retained, even if the user interface is no longer available. Not a perfect solution, but better than outright removal.

 

This might impact the use of Shadow Copies?

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  • 1 month later...
scottbakertemp

Thanks for the feedback. I'm now thinking that maybe I keep WHS2011 and all of its PC backup functionality, but also create a "File History" server folder and point the Win8 PCs File History to that location - but only set it for Skydrive - I'll exclude the Libraries, Desktop, Contacts etc. since those will be backed up by WHS2011. Seems a bit convoluted I know, but it at least gives me the Skydrive version history and redundancy I'm looking for. How does that sound gcoupe...

 

How would one go about creating a centralized file history server? Just stick a network share on a Windows 8 box?

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