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whs2011 backup utility question / strategy


capall

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jmwills

For backups there is a 2TB limit, form the best I can remember, or at least using the built-in Windows Servers tools from a GUI.  I am going to work with the script I posted above and see how it works.

 

I think it would be easier for people who are not accustomed to using RoboCopy.  The smart thing to do is having a second local copy in what I call a flat file format (readable from Explorer) and an offsite copy either thru the cloud or VPN.

 

this article is form one our our forum members:

 

http://gcoupe.wordpress.com/2011/05/27/my-whs-2011-experience-thus-far/

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I got the idea of the OS and data on separate drives from forum members such as yourselves, and agree with you all that its a good idea, and is the way I went on my microserver. However, if you do that, then, if I understand correctly, you can't use the Windows Server Backup utility (which is backing up the OS), to back up the data to its backup external driver, correct?

 

Where I'm going with this is,  to have 2nd backup method of the data (not OS) for redundancy, but maybe its overkill.

 

setup as follows..

Windows Server Backup utility, backing up the OS to its dedicated external drive ("OS backup drive")

A sync utility (to avoid the 2TB limit), backing up all data to its dedicated external drive ("data backup drive"), while also using the Windows Server Backup utility to make a VHD backup of critical data to the "data backup drive" and as long as the OS and the critical in total are less then 2TB.

 

However to do this, Windows Server Backup utility would have to backup to different drives; the OS to the "OS backup drive" and critical data to the "data backup drive", all of which would obviously need to be less then 2TB. But what I don't is if its possibly to do this?, or even a good idea?

 

 

BTW, it was from one of Geoff Coupe's posts on "We got served" forums , that prompted to ask this question. From his posts he seems to be only using the whs backup utility to backup everything, the OS and all data, which is less the 2TB for him, and all to the same drive. But I've appreciated and agreed with the suggestions from ikon/pcdoc and others on the advantages of keeping the OS backup on its own drive (with the whs system backup utility) and  the data in a flat file in its own drive, whether or not is less than 2Tb, by using a sync program, such as cloundberry/allwaysync/crashplan/robocopy etc.

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jmwills

Depending on how much data you have you could pout everything on one backup schedule.  If not, then you are going to have to use some sort of scripting to backup the data "only" to a USB drive.  The script I posted above looks to be valid.

 

Edit:  That script works likes a charm with one caveat.  You have to change the execution policy to unrestricted since the script is not digitally signed.  Now to change the variable from Username\Desktop to Server Folders.

 

this is essentially the same thing ikon is doing as the script is using "RoboCopy"

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AFAICR, you can designate more than 1 Server Backup Drive, so you would not be restricted that way.

 

Also, you can include pretty much anything on the system in the backup. You should start up Windows Server Backup and check it out yourself. Choose Backup Once, Add Items, then Custom instead of Full Server. You will be able to browse all of the drives in the system.

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I got the idea of the OS and data on separate drives from forum members such as yourselves, and agree with you all that its a good idea, and is the way I went on my microserver. However, if you do that, then, if I understand correctly, you can't use the Windows Server Backup utility (which is backing up the OS), to back up the data to its backup external driver, correct?

 

Where I'm going with this is,  to have 2nd backup method of the data (not OS) for redundancy, but maybe its overkill.

 

setup as follows..

Windows Server Backup utility, backing up the OS to its dedicated external drive ("OS backup drive")

A sync utility (to avoid the 2TB limit), backing up all data to its dedicated external drive ("data backup drive"), while also using the Windows Server Backup utility to make a VHD backup of critical data to the "data backup drive" and as long as the OS and the critical in total are less then 2TB.

 

However to do this, Windows Server Backup utility would have to backup to different drives; the OS to the "OS backup drive" and critical data to the "data backup drive", all of which would obviously need to be less then 2TB. But what I don't is if its possibly to do this?, or even a good idea?

 

 

BTW, it was from one of Geoff Coupe's posts on "We got served" forums , that prompted to ask this question. From his posts he seems to be only using the whs backup utility to backup everything, the OS and all data, which is less the 2TB for him, and all to the same drive. But I've appreciated and agreed with the suggestions from ikon/pcdoc and others on the advantages of keeping the OS backup on its own drive (with the whs system backup utility) and  the data in a flat file in its own drive, whether or not is less than 2Tb, by using a sync program, such as cloundberry/allwaysync/crashplan/robocopy etc.

 

Erm, I don't think you have quite grasped what I am doing.

 

1) My WHS 2011 server has the OS on its own dedicated drive, with C: as the drive letter. The remainder of that physical drive has a partition which WHS 2011 assigned the D: drive letter to by default. I use the D: drive to hold miscellaneous data.

2) My main data is held on four separate physical drives (a mix of 1TB and 2TB drives) with drive letters in the range G: to J:.

3) I classify my data into critical (e.g. client PC backups, photos and documents) and non-critical (e.g. rips of DVDs and CDs that can be re-done from the original discs if necessary). 

4) It so happens that my critical data + the OS comes in at under the 2TB VHD limit of the Server Backup - so I simply use the Server Backup function in the Dashboard to back this up.

5) I use two 2TB drives for the server backup, rotated to offsite storage, so the Server Backup function uses whichever of the two drives happens to be plugged into the swappable dock on the server, while the other is sitting offsite.

6) I use AllwaySync to take a copy of the non-critical data as and when necessary, and store the copy offsite.

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Hi Geoff,

Thanks for the input,

Actually, Thats exactly what I thought you were doing, but I was wondering about the pros/cons of the OS and data being on the same backup drive and also that the data is a VHD file.

 

Your strategy is what prompted to start the thread. I like the simplicity of using the Server backup for the OS and critical data (when the total for both is <2TB), and allwaysync for non critical that is >2TB, however I thought the OS needed its own dedicated drive, hence how were you putting data and the OS on the backup drive?

 

I now know that, using the Server Backup utility to back up the OS and data to the same drive, versus using the Server Backup utility to back up the OS to its backup drive and a sync utility to back up the data to a different drive, is purely preference.

 

The latter method thus results in;

1) the OS being the only files on its backup drive, with no data to conflict or corrupt the restore

2) Data is a flat copy on its own drive and not a VHD file and hence can simply be read MS Explorer and doesn't need the VHD special treatment to read it.

 

However I was also wondering about backup redundancy, if you will.

For example,

1. Sever utility to backup the OS to the OS backup drive

2. Using a sync utility to back up critical data (<2TB) and non critical (>2TB) to copy data to the data backup drive, but also using the Server Utility to back up the critical data as a VHD file to either the OS backup drive or the data backup drive, thus getting 2 types of data backup (1. a flat copy and 2. a VHD file)

 

Q's

1. can you put a VHD file onto the data drive while also using it to sync data to, or is this even a good idea

2. You seem to be comfortable with having the OS and data on the same backup drive?

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A's:

 

1. By default, WHS2011 makes you choose between adding a drive into the system as either ( a ) a storage drive used for data, or ( b ) a backup drive, which it then formats as a VHD. I just use WHS 2011 in the default mode. I don't rummage behind the curtain of the Dashboard and use the underlying Server Backup engine and scripts. If I did, then it might be possible to mix data and VHDs on the same physical drive, but it's not something I've tried.

 

2. Yes. Why would I not be? VHDs are a perfectly acceptable container and can be mounted and read using MS Explorer on any Windows 7/8 system if necessary. Because they are WHS2011 Server Backups, I also have the advantage that I have historical versions of critical data available. Whilst AllwaySync can take multiple copies of files to provide versioning, it's not as efficient and the WHS2011 backup method.

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At the risk of confusing the situation even more, Windows Server backup works by creating 'images' in VHD format of the volumes on the server which you specify. It requires a dedicated disk or set of disks to work and these disks once allocated can't be used for anything else. So image you have a server with a 'C' drive (or volume) with the OS and a 'D' drive with all the data. You attach an external USB drive and tell Windows Server Backup to use it, the software will create an image of 'C' and an image of 'D' onto the backup drive and update this each time it runs. Now suppose you add another backup drive to the set, the backup software uses whichever one happens to be attached at the time it runs or if it finds both are attached it will just choose one of them - and it is fairly indeterminate as to which one will be used - note that you can't tell the software to use one backup disk for 'C' and another one for 'D' - it's all or nothing onto one backup disk.

 

By the way the maximum permitted size for a VHD file is 2 TBytes which is where the limit comes from as to the maximum volume size you can backup using this feature.

 

These VHD files can be restored quite easily but it is hard to 'open them up' and get at the individual files other than through the backup software itself. So what you can do is attach another USB drive and setup a sort of parallel backup routine using other software - robocopy etc. to make a 'flat-file' backup of data on it.

 

The answers to your two questions are

 

NO and

There really is no problem with this at all.

 

John

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Last section of the last sentence in my last post should read:

 

 

it's not as efficient as the WHS2011 backup method.

 

Is it really not possible to edit posts retrospectively on this board?

Edited by gcoupe
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Geoff, John, thanks for the last few posts, great summary of what can / can't be done.

I checked the server backup utility last night and yes, it says that you can have 2 drives connected as backup drives (obviously for rotating purposes) but can only have one connected at a time, otherwise it will, as John explained, it will just pick one at random for the next backup.

 

Thanks lads for all the help,

all clear now !

 

capall

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