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Assigning a drive as a backup destination


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Hello all.


I am fairly new to WHS 2011, and I am having an issue with backing up my server, client computers, and data files.


I have a iTB internal drive used for WHS2011.  I have to two 3TB  drives hooked up off of a 4 bay eSATA enclosure and two external USB drives.


I installed WHS 2011 successfully and all the drives show up correctly.  The problem is probably an easy fix, but I cannot find it.  Every time I try to do any kind of backup, it says that it cannot find any drives that can be used as a backupdrive.  I was wanting to use the two 3TB eSATA drives for backup duties.  If I understand it correctly, I just need to assign them as backup drives.  If that is the case, how do I do that.  It is probably something very easy to do, but being the newb that I am, I could use some help.


I looked online for some info, but the only thing I saw useful was assigning a drive as backup  during an Add New Drive Wizard, but the two eSATA drives are loaded up during boot-up, so I don't have that option.


I am mainly wanting to backup the two external USB drives because they hold all of my movies, music, and data files I have, but backing up one of my two client computers and the server itself is also something I am looking into to doing also.


Any help will be appreciated, 

Philip Earle

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Hi Philip


You have done everything right and there are few possibilities which would account for your issue but unfortunately I fear you have managed to run up against the large disk size sector bug (I'm sorry did I say 'bug', of course I mean 'feature') with the Windows Server Backup facility.


WHS 2011 is based on Server 2008 R2 and it does it's backups by creating VHD files and basically makes snapshot images of the original disks. The method it uses to do this relies on the target disk being formatted with a sector size of 512 bytes which is the standard size for disks up to 2 TBytes in size - your 3 TByte disks are formatted (at the factory) with sector sizes of 4096 bytes and unfortunately the Server Backup system doesn't recognise them as usable; and in case you are wondering, no, you can't reformat them to a different sector size.


So what can be done? Well there is a possible means of 'fooling' the OS into thinking that the disks are formatted at 512 bytes but it involves a software utility from the disk manufacturer, which may or may not exist. You'll need to do a search on the website of the manufacturer to see if they have any software which can do this 'sector size translation' as it's called.


Otherwise you may need to abandon Windows Server Backup and try a third-party product. I personally use crashplan (just the free version) to backup my music, videos etc. from the server - it'll not be as straight forward to use and I have no idea how it'll cope with swopping backup disks over but it might be worth a punt.


I'm sure that others will chime in with some suggestions.


Good luck



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Thanks John.  I will go to Seagate's website and do a little more research on that.  I appreciate your info and will also look at crashplan also. 

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consider this as a third party way to backing up to a shared external drive




which you can run as a Windows Scheduled item


and this




...............which has cloud options, including Amazon (AWS) S3 ( I know it can be expensive... but if your selective with what you actually back up it can be a sub $10 a month account )... but very few people know that you can also use the same software to back up files/folders to network storage as well... with purge options included.

Edited by Essexraptor
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Thanks for the info Essexraptor.......I was finally able to add the 3TB drives as backup drives.  I had to remove the drives from within Windows, they were then found again by Windows, and I had to reformat them in Disk Management.  It was broken up into two partitions, a 2.2 TB and an 800 GB.  I was then able to assign them as backup drives.  The strange part was when I assigned a manual backup of the server.  It asked me what time to do the backup, and then which drive to use for the backup.  I labeled and chose the 2.2 TB partition, and then it said because the drive was split into two partitions, it had to reformat it.  It then formatted it into a 3TB drive, which is what I had been trying to do all along, LOL.  I went ahead and did a server backup onto the 3TB drive and it worked.  So maybe that is taken care of (fingers crossed).

Now here is where I think I should have done more research and I think I might have some more work in front of me.  The two external drives I am looking to backup, one has all my videos and music on it, and the other is pics and misc. items, are both 3TB USB drives.  I got a message that WHS 2011 will not back up from a 3TB drive.  Is that correct?  If so, I am thinking I am going to have to shuffle files to different places, reformat each of the 3TB USB drives to where there is like a 2TB and 1TB drive, and then move everything back to those drives. Should backing up the external drives work if I go that route?

I do appreciate the responses and will look into all the other options if WHS2011 won't do the trick.


Thanks again, 

Philip Earle

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The option I use for data is to copy the files to the external drives. That way, you are not limited to a specific drive size. Here's some links to what I do. If you find it useful, feel free to copy & adapt and ideas to your own situation.


PHOTOS: http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic/1899-whs-2011-storage-strategy/page-8#entry47628

BACKUP STRATEGY: http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic/4788-what-i-hope-to-acheive-with-your-help/#entry51373

BACKUP SCRIPTS: http://homeservershow.com/forums/index.php?/topic/5197-robocopy-backup-scripts/#entry56498

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