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Have I, as I suspect, made a mistake?


C4rl
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I would appreciate a bit of advice about server backup with WHS2011 on my HP N54L as I think I’ve probably made a mistake :unsure:

 

I’ve recently bought a Hitachi 4tb external drive for the purpose of server backup, my plan being to partition the drive 33/66 using the 33% for server backup and the remaing 66% to manually back up my shares because my music folder is approximately 2.1tb and above the file size limit.

 

So yesterday I connected the drive partitioned it and then ran the server backup wizard whereupon it informs me its going to format the drive to a single partition, which from what I've read will not be recognised because of the 2tb drive limit.

 

Have I, as I suspect made a mistake buying the 4tb drive or is there a simple way around this?

 

Thanks in advance to anyone offering some advice.

 

 

Carl :)

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OK, first: Windows Server Backup  dedicates the entire drive for backup. You can't use the drive for other data.

 

Second, please check the backup drive with Disk Manager  to see if it has been partitioned 2TB or 4TB. I believe the 2TB limit only applies to the source, not the destination: i.e. it's a limitation of the Shadow Copy Service. You may have to have the GPT hotfix installed but, if you do, I believe you will find that the drive is formatted 4TB. I wish I could say for certain but I don't recall for sure.

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See if you can run the Server Backup from the server. Look for Server Backup under Start. I think that if you bypass the Dashboard wizard, you can choose not to format the drive. It should then run as usual. Please confirm if that's right.

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Hmmm, I think I tried that once and it still warned that the drive would be formatted and, effectively, dedicated to server backup. C4rl, please let us know if that's NOT the case.

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OK, first: Windows Server Backup  dedicates the entire drive for backup. You can't use the drive for other data.

 

Second, please check the backup drive with Disk Manager  to see if it has been partitioned 2TB or 4TB. I believe the 2TB limit only applies to the source, not the destination: i.e. it's a limitation of the Shadow Copy Service. You may have to have the GPT hotfix installed but, if you do, I believe you will find that the drive is formatted 4TB. I wish I could say for certain but I don't recall for sure.

 

This is true, the destination disk is completely formatted and dedicated to backups only, the 2TB limit applies to the source volume only not the destination. For the disk to be seen as it's full capacity, it'll need to be formatted as GPT, the standard MBR formatting can't cope with volume sizes much over 2 TB.

 

 

 

See if you can run the Server Backup from the server. Look for Server Backup under Start. I think that if you bypass the Dashboard wizard, you can choose not to format the drive. It should then run as usual. Please confirm if that's right.

 

 

I don't think that's right, the wizards and indeed the Windows Server Backup application just make calls to the wbadmin command, which if you set up backups using the command-line will still want to format the disk first. Unless it detects that there are already past backups on the disk in which case it will ask if you want to retain them and just append new backups on to it.

 

So in theory you can use destination disks of any size you want BUT large disks are formatted with 4k sector sizes and unfortunately Windows Server Backup in Server 2008r2  (which WHS 2011 is based on) can't use such disks. The trick (if you can) is to see if there are tools available which can format the disk in such as way that the physical sector size is still 4k but it is presented to the server as if it is the traditional 512 byte sector size (the 512e - enhanced) format. You'll need to have a dig around in the documentation for the disk and see if any utilities available to do this.

 

John 

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Thanks jem101. I really do appreciate people providing confirmation (or contradiction when needed).
 
Couple of questions:

  • with a 4TB drive, would it be necessary to use Disk Manager to format the drive as GPT or can Windows Server Backup do it? And, is the GPT hotfix needed to accomplish it, using either method?
  • are you saying that, even with a GPT formatted 4TB drive, Windows Server Backup can't use it if the drive has 4K sectors that aren't translated?
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Thanks for the advice; sorry for the delay, I’ve not been home for a couple of days.

 

Latest update, the drive was formatted as a single 4tb drive after a suggestion on another forum, the disk then showed up in the console and in disk manager as disk 4 at  37**GB NTFS. However once this was done and I tried to run server backup via the wizard, on every attempt the backup failed after about 10 seconds with I/O write errors.

 

It would seem reading the various posts that I have in fact made a mistake buying a 4tb drive :wacko:  as my music folder is over 2.1TB I cannot back it up and dedicating a 4TB drive to back up the server OS etc which in only 130/140gb is obviously a waste of a 4TB drive :(

 

If that is the case I can just use the drive to manually back up my shared folders with Synctoy or similar and find a smaller drive for the server backup?

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Thanks jem101. I really do appreciate people providing confirmation (or contradiction when needed).

 

Couple of questions:

  • with a 4TB drive, would it be necessary to use Disk Manager to format the drive as GPT or can Windows Server Backup do it? And, is the GPT hotfix needed to accomplish it, using either method?
  • are you saying that, even with a GPT formatted 4TB drive, Windows Server Backup can't use it if the drive has 4K sectors that aren't translated?

 

1 - Disk Manager will certainly do it, I'm not sure about WS Backup - I suspect it calls the standard formatting routings, so if push comes to shove, I'd guess that it would. I don't think you need the hotfix but reading data from large disks is a bit problematic without it.

2 - That's correct. VHD files can only be written to 512 byte sectors and as WSBackup creates VHD files, then you are somewhat up the creek without the proverbial paddle.

 

C4rl, they just may be a way round this but I'm afraid you will need to forgo the simple WHS wizard and get your hands dirty with the actual Windows Server Backup application. Firstly you'll need to see if you have (or can download) a utility which can format the disk in the 512e format (ie the disk itself is still using 4k sectors but it reports to Windows that they are 512 bytes). If you can't find anything and/or the disk firmware just doesn't support it then I'm afraid you are out of luck. 

 

Also even if you can do this, external disks can still be very problematic as the USB controllers will often simply ignore the translation - the fix here, unfortunately, is to crack open the case, pull the disk out and mount it inside the server directly onto a SATA connector.

 

After that if, the disk formats correctly and if Windows Server Backup can write to it OK, then what you could do is manually create two (or more) backup jobs using the actual Server Backup program. It's been quite a while since I've looked and I'm not in front of a Server at the moment to take a look but I think it's in the utilities somewhere. Create a job which backs up some of your music folder and a second job which backs up the rest. The key here is that the program will create two VHD files both of which can be under the 2TB limit. You'll also need to create other backup jobs for the rest of your data and I don't think you will get alerts in the console so it'll be a case of manually checking the application and/or event logs form time to time. Having said that it is possible to create a scheduled task which can fire off an email (say) when certain events happen - Backup Failed for example, but let's cross that bridge when we come to it.

 

John

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Or, C4rl, you could follow my procedure and only use Windows Server Backup to back up the OS, and use RoboCopy (or some other utility) to copy the data to a large external drive. I prefer this technique for several reasons, but one of them is because I can always get at my files without having to run some backup program to recover them. Here's a link to my procedure: http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic/5197-robocopy-backup-scripts/?hl=%2Bbackup+%2Bscripts. There's a couple of URLs in that thread that link to some photos & other info as well.

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