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WHS 2011 SSD + HDD backup solution


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Hi there,


my WHS 2011 server has been up and running for a few years now.   Here is the vid i made when i made it (note: i have added new drives since).  



My set up is currently as per the below:


120gb SSD Crucial M4

- OS drive


1TB WD Red Drive-

-Data drive (currently about 600gb full).

-This contains all of my shared folders (i.e. all of my data) - pictures, videos, docs, backups etc.  

- I also have a shared folder for one drive on there, which has a copy of all of my photos.  (side point: i still cant find out how to keep this one drive folder synced with the "Pictures" shared folder so that it's up to date when I add new pics)


1TB WD Greed Drive

- Currently this a Server Backup drive



Now i have never tried restoring the server backup drive as my RED drive has never failed.   I have read however, that if my RED drive did fail it wouldnt just be a case of me taking out the green drive, putting it in another pc and seeing all the Shared Folders (Pictures, VIds etc).  It's actually more like an image of the RED drive, which can only be accessed via the WHS 2011 restore process.  


I read about Mirroring the drives instead and this seems like an easier solution if the RED drive fails (i.e. if the Green drive were a mirror of the RED drive, i could just remove it from the server, plug it into another pc, copy the files)


Before you ask, yes I also manually copy my important shared folders (pictures and documents) to an external HDD.  If i choose to use the Green Drive as a mirror, i will but a 120gb usb flash drive and use it to backup the Server OS, via Server Backup, given that this OS backup woudl be lost as soon as i stop the Green Drive being Server Backup.



My questions:


1.  In your collective experience,  would you choose Mirroring that Green Drive over keeping it as a Server Backup folder?

2.  I wouldnt really want the 2 drives to be spinning constantly - is there a way to schedule the mirror daily?  2 am would be ideal, and i would be willing to accept the possibility of having new files un-mirrored for a few hours.

3. would doing a server backup with a usb flash drive (i.e. a usb pen drive) work?



Thanks so much for the help.  Still enjoying the podcast too (although i was a bit disappointed that the recent WHS 2011 vs Server Essentials episode didnt go into more depth for the average guy).







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  1. I'd recommend keeping the Server Backup. The restore of the system is probably more important in the long run.

    Also, any server OS should be able to read the backup. And you can use "wbadmin.msc" on the server to restore files and folders.

  2. If you used an actual mirrored drive, no. You'd be at the mercy of Windows. 
  3. Nope. Not possible. Server Backup skips removable drives like this. It ONLY allows you to select USB hard drives. Period. End of story.

    Even if it did, you'd want at least 50% more capacity than what you're backing up. At a minimum. That means 180GB or larger to back up your 120GB SSD.

Another solution here is StableBit DrivePool or Drive Bender (I'm biased towards StableBit for obvious reasons, but not totally biased).

These are file based solutions. Meaning that you can "duplicate" the data between disks in the pool, and they're stored on normal NTFS volumes. That means that ANY system can read the contents. However, they may be hidden to prevent casual access to the data.

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If you have no other Windows Server Backup of the boot drive, I would keep the Green drive for that. I know you said you haven't tried a Restore - you really, really need to do that, preferably to a spare drive. A backup that hasn't been tested isn't a backup at all - it's a backup wannabe.


I think you will find that the Restore process is much easier than you might have thought. And remember, you only have to restore the boot drive to test the process.

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Wow your response time is amazing, thanks so much for taking the time here.


I guess as an answer to each of your points:



1. just to confirm you think that I am currently using the 3 drives in my server in an optimum way? I was worried about the server backup just because I thought that I would only be able to get back "in" to it via WHS 2011. If I could also do similar on a win 8 PC then great.



2. The annoying thing with my setup is that the server backup will always be 120gb too small to give me full coverage given that I have the OS on a separate drive. Also it's backing things up that are stored on 2 different drives. If, say, my SSD failed, in the server backup restore process would I be able to specify which parts from the server backup to restore (I.e. Only restore the OS part of the server backup to a new SSD, don't restore any of the server folders on the RED drive which is still working fine?? This problem was really why I thought about mirroring the WD RED data drive (using WHS mirroring or a stablebit/cloudberry local backup solution) with the WD GREEN and getting a new small external HDD for server backup on the OS.



3. As it stands, my server backup is currently 840 gb used, even though the sum of my data drive plus OS is only about 650gb. Any ideas why this is? Old versions of the backup being stored maybe?





4. Yeah it's pretty bad that I haven't tested it. By your suggestion, do you mean plugging in a blank external HDD, restoring the OS part of my backup to it, and just checking to see if there is any data there? I could do the same but with my pictures folder maybe?




Really appreciate the help both of you.


Quick bit of feedback on my server - I have it running under my smart TV, plugged into my router. I use the server to download films and stream the films to my TV (via inbuilt media functionality) or to an IPAD via Airvideo. I also transfer some music, TV, films, PDFs etc from my server to my IPad using an app called File Explorer which works brilliantly. I run iTunes via the iHomeserver add in which is great for streaming my music to my airport express, however now that I have spotify I don't do this as much. Incidentally, iTunes wifi sync does NOT work for either of my iPhone or my iPad which is a bit annoying but again, irrelevant now that we have iCloud backup.

I don't backup client pcs really because my only other computer is a gaming rig used just for gaming (also under the TV) however this is something I will start doing once I buy a new laptop. To summarise, the server has been a great investment over the last few years and even my girlfriend appreciates it a bit. The only niggle that I have in my mind is whether I am backing up in an efficient way.

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Regarding backup readability, just bear in mind that any backup that uses a proprietary format, like Windows Server Backup, will create some restrictions on how the data can be read. But, as Drashna said, it is possible to read the backups on any other Windows Server computer. I'm not sure if it's possible to use wbadmin.msc on a Window 7 or 8 computer, but it might be.


Yes, you can restore any part of the backup - you do not have to restore the whole thing.


I don't know why your backup is taking up so much space, unless you have the backup drive formatted with larger clusters than your production drive(s).


Yes, to test your Restore it's ideal to do a restore of only the OS to a spare drive. This, of course, is because you don't want to overwrite your good boot drive with a failed Restore. The idea isn't really to see if you can read data - it's more to see if you can boot your server from the spare drive. If you can do that, then you can be pretty sure you can restore our data. Having said that, I don't back up any of my data using WSB.


Since this is a thread about backup, here are some links to my backup setup. They can serve as a framework:

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

Obviously, I wouldn't expect you to do exactly what I'm doing, but the info may give you some ideas. Also, forum member Jason has implemented a form of my strategy. I imagine he would be happy to offer feedback and advice if you were to consider such a strategy.

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  1. Actually, to restore the drives, you'd only need the install disk (or a WinRE boot drive... but that's more complicated). To recover the files, that requires the full OS to be installed.... or to create a VHD and restore to that. (again, more complicated).


  2. As for the restore process, there is a nice checkbox that says something along the lines of "only restore parts need by the system". I use this when I restore my server, to avoid overwriting my VMs. So it sounds like it's exactly what you want.


  3. Updates, most likely. Temp files. Etc.

    Also, it's an incremental backup, so it stores information about the partitions as well. This will add up after a while.


And as Ikon has mentioned, you should always test out the restore process. It doesn't matter if everything is backed up, if you can't restore it properly.

And he means to see if it restores properly and to see if it actually, successfully boots from the restored disk.


I .... umm..... test out the restore process once every six months or so. But that's not really intentional. 

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Ikon, I really like your backup procedure and the ability to schedule "copies" is exactly what I want (I don't want the backup HDD spinning constantly).


Out of interest, how do you deal with backups of your server OS? From what I could tell you only describe backing up your data drives.


The fact that your backups of data are standard folders that could be accessed immediately (unlike the need to restore a server backup in a proprietary format) is great.


Im tempted to get another ssd that I can back up the server OS to, so that I have full 1tb capacity on the wd green drive for a robocopy kind of setup.


So my backups would be:


1. New 120gb ssd to which I can back up the the server OS (yes I know it seems a bit silly to get an Ssd just for this purpose but at £45 I can't think of a more cost effective way to do it. I hate the idea of an external USB drive plugged in 24/7, running constantly. It would take up a lot of power and may be a fire hazard. At least the ssd would be dormant until the backup process starts)

2. Robocopy data backup from the Red drive to the Green drive

3. 1tb external HDD to which I copy all the data from the Red drive once a month. I keep this offsite at my parents house.

4. My current 500 gb HDD has a copy of all my vital stuff (all data excluding movies)

5. All my photos stored on Onedrive (although I'm still struggling to automate this process annoyingly)


What do you think?


Thanks for all the help!

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Sorry if it's not covered in those links, but I back up the server OS only using Windows Server Backup. As Drashna observed, there is a checkbox that's presented when setting up the backup that basically ensures that everything required in order to Restore a bootable OS drive is included. No data is included in the WSB backup - as you read in the links that's covered by the RoboCopy scripts.

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