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First time setting up home server, few questions


aeronyth
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Hello, I am in the process of setting up WSE R2 on an old dell OptiPlex (low cost).  It will just be used for my home office and will have 2 client computers connected to it.  I am primarily interested in using it as a file server, i.e. for backups of our personal files, and for media streaming.  I will be investigating other uses down the road but for now just want to get it set up and get the clients connected and have my data backed up.

 

From what I can tell from using a test account signed into the domain, windows does a pretty good job of maintaining file syncs using Folder Redirection and having the files available offline.  I'm basically just using whatever the default group policy settings are that the WSE wizard sets up for user accounts.

 

That being said, without having backups of my client computers, no file history, and no server backup, aren't my files still safe?  There is a copy on our respective client PC's as well as the "hard" copy in the folder redirection share.

 

If I have no use for file history, then I should be fine without backing up computers and backing up the server, right?  (assuming I am fine with having to reinstall the server from scratch in the event of a drive failure)

 

It seems to me that it would take a simultaneous drive failure on the client AND the server in order to create a situation of data loss.  It just sounds too good to be true.

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Folder Redirection points the client folders to the server, about 99% correct on this, so the data is on the server and not the client, right?

 

http://www.wegotserved.com/2012/09/24/windows-server-2012-essentials-simplifies-folder-redirection-security-settings-group-policies/

 

So, yes, you do need a backup of the server and the client folders.  Essentially, your clients now become thin cleints with respect to data.  It's all on the server.

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As far as I understand you are correct, but after shutting down both machines, and booting the client with the server completely shut down, all the files remained. 

 

I didn't set anything up as far as offline files go, but it seems that anything I add to a redirected folder automatically becomes available offline at the client-side.

 

So I'm not sure I understand fully.

 

My goal is to implement some sort of data redundancy, so in the event of a drive failure I don't lose anything.  One might imagine that adding a third HD (server) to two clients would allow for that, but I am starting to understand I might need a fourth drive.  Just trying to get by on a budget.  On the other hand, using redirected folders, file history, individual client backups, and server backups all at the same time is extremely too far redundant for my budget and for the scope of a 2 user system.

 

(My old method was backing up each client to the other client over the network- which becomes annoying and time consuming and leads to full drives being that we both only have 640GB disks at the moment)

Edited by aeronyth
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The policy have no have run yet.  Did you see files on both sides?

 

If not, from the clinet (Amd Command Prompt)  gpupdate /force

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Image of win 7 virtual client connected to the server.

 

 

This is with the server shut down, the client is showing the files location on the server, however I can open, edit, copy or manipulate the file on the client side however I wish.

Untitled.png

Edited by aeronyth
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Only you can determine how much redundancy you need, but if you don't have an off site copy of your data then you don't really have a robust backup situation and I can virtually guarantee you that you will lose data at some point.

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If offline files is active (I don't remember if it is by default with folder redirection enabled or not), then yes, there are copies of the files on both clients and on the server.  HOWEVER....

since the sync between clients and server is automatic, any changes that occur on one will occur on the other.  If the server decides that there are no files in the folder to due a damaged hard drive, it will tell the clients and they will be obedient and also delete their local copies.  There's a couple edge cases that may not result in that, but they have to do with clients that aren't always connected and needing to sync when they can, but for the most part, files are gone.  Also, the Folder Redirection Wizard creates redirected folders on a per-user basis, no shared folders.  Folder Redirection is meant to make it easier to switch between computers without having to copy files back and forth, it's for ease of use, NOT for redundancy or backup.

 

File History is for Windows 8 computers only, and typically only pertains to the Documents and Desktop folders.  It is sort of like automatic periodic revision control.  I have it enabled, but I haven't really found a use for it myself.  Just watch out if you put large files in either location, because then they get stuck in the File History for a long time.

 

Server Backup is what it sounds like - backup of the server, which if configured correctly allows for bare-metal restore.  It can mainly just backup to another hard drive, either internal or external.  There are solutions out there for backing up to the cloud, and there are ways to set up the backup so that you can rotate between two or more hard drives, but those are generally more complex to set up and configure.  Long term, such solutions are better to have in place, but when just starting, getting anything in place is still a nice starting point.

 

I have a single-user setup (just me) with 2 main computers and a media center or two.  I use Offline Files combined with Libraries (kind of like Folder Redirection, but works better with the programs I use) to keep files in sync between my desktop and Surface Pro.  I have all computers backing up to the server nightly, and the server performing backups of the critical shares and OS to a dedicated drive.  I am in the process of getting Crashplan to backup all of my data to their systems as well, but I have a slight bandwidth issue, so it's taking a while (20+ days for the initial set, and it's just my photo album).  I do not backup the client computer backups or File History share on the server, mainly because the drive I had available for backups isn't big enough.  I would definitely say you need at least one more hard drive for your setup that can backup the Folder Redirection share and the OS itself.  I know you're willing to reinstall if you have to, but the OS takes up very little space, and the amount of time to install updates and configure everything again is usually not worth it.  BTW, if you reinstall the server OS because of a drive crash, you'll have to completely disconnect the client computers from the domain and connect them to the new server.  Due to the profiles being domain accounts, you'll lose them and have to migrate all of their settings again.  Having a bare-metal backup of the server can prevent that from becoming an issue.

 

Like ikon says, only you can decide what you really need, but I'm pretty sure that the majority of the users on the forums would agree that your current setup isn't not going to adequately protect you from a hard drive failure in the future.

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Cant figure out how to get the quotes to work....

 

 

@ Andne:  Thank you.  Like I said, I knew it sounded too good to be true, and your example of the server overwriting/deleting files due to sync demands is exactly why it isn't a solution that can be trusted.  Thanks again.

 

 

Off to buy another HD.. 

Edited by aeronyth
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