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Two Windows Server 2012 R2 Setup


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Guys, I have no real background in networking or domains. All of my knowledge on Server 2012 R2 is based on many years of IT experience (mainframes and SAP), and a lot of googling and forums like this.


To this point I have operated in a single server environment and used sneaker net to maintain offsite backups of my server and key folders.


I have recently decided to try to setup a more automated offsite backup for my main server.


1. My main server is a N54L running Windows 2012 R2 with the Essentials role. This replaced my original WHS2011 server.


I have now re-purposed my old WHS2011 box and have installed another copy of Windows Server 2012 R2 on it.  I have joined it to the domain on my main server and it is running fine.


It shows up in the Essentials Dashboard and also in Server Management. I have also successfully created a new shared folder on my main server that actually lives on the second server..


What I would like to do is setup some Robocopy (maybe) scripts to copy changes to key folders (eg photos, client computer backups) to the second server seed it,  and then relocate the second server to my daughter's place.


Is there any way, I can do this and still leave it as part of the domain?


2. Is it possible to activate the Essentials Role on the second server so that the pc's in my daughters can also be backed up to this server?  I have read conflicting information on what happens when you activate another 2012 R2  with Essentials role in the same domain.


3. Would I be better off looking at something like Crashplan?


I would appreciate any specific advice or just some key things I can google to research further.


Thanks, Tim.

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Theoretically yes to points 1 and 2 but (and it really is a big but!), you will need to have your and your daughter’s home network arranged in a specific manner.


Since the second (remote) server is on a domain it will need to periodically contact the first server. To do that your and your daughter’s home networks will need to be logically connected by a LAN to LAN permanent VPN connection. The best way to do this is if your two routers support this feature (sometimes referred to as LAN to LAN), and terminate the VPNs on the two routers. The subnet addresses within the two networks need to be different and finally, your both really need to have static WAN IP addresses - or at least one of the does, it is sometimes possible to ‘fiddle’ it with a VPN dial-out.


So the two networks are joined, you have a server in each one and they can communicate over the VPN.


Now you want your daughter’s PCs to back up to the second server, you would need to install the connector on the PCs and point them at the second server but by default it would want to join them to the domain. This might be what you want and would certainly be the ‘approved’ MS method. In this case then you would have to make the second server a domain controller and configure AD sites with one server in each.


Otherwise there is a semi-official hack which allows you to install the connector while skipping the domain join part - there is a good article on this on Paul Braren’s site (https://tinkertry.com).


So all in all yes you could do it, and you might like to take a look at DFS replication of data between sites instead of robocopy, however to do what you wan tot do properly is beginning to encroach on the world of small-scale, enterprise-class networking with main and brach offices and distributed domains, and if you are not too familiar with networks and how domains function, it’ll be a steep learning-curve.


Alternatively, as you say, something like Crashplan will allow you to backup key data between the two servers without the need for the complex VPN and domain setup.



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