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WHS2011 Server backup RRS feed

  • Question

  • The drive space to be backuped is approx. 90 GB. My initial server backup (the backup disk has 250 GB) was 90 GB. The backup is configured to run twice a day (12am and 11pm). Since the initial backup, nothing happens on the whs (no client backups, no more files/folders added). At of this, there were 30 backups made (15 days, 2 per day) and something curious happened: Although nothing happens on the HDDs the used backup space on the backup disk grew up from 90 GB to 170 GB today. In the details screen i saw, that sometimes 3-4 MB were backuped and somtimes some GB were backuped. (I think this belongs to the automatic defragmentation of whs2011).

    Is there a possibility to "compress" the backup-space (if not the backup disk will run out of space) and if so, how?

    regards

    Stefan


    Thursday, August 11, 2011 6:03 AM

All replies

  • This is normal behavior for the tool performing the backup. Even if you don't access your server shares, data still changes regularly on any computer, and all changes are backed up incrementally to a .vhd file. As for what happens when the drive fills up, in theory older backups will be pruned. Some users have had issues with this, however.

    Note that the use of the .vhd file for storing backups means that you are unable to store a backup for a single volume if that backup will exceed 2 TB (the limit on the size of a .vhd file). As a result, Windows Home Server will normally format a larger drive (say a multi-TB RAID array) as a series of 2 TB partitions, and a single partition of less than 2 TB. This allows each partition to be backed up.


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    • Proposed as answer by Ken Warren Thursday, August 11, 2011 12:31 PM
    Thursday, August 11, 2011 12:31 PM
  • It is normal behavior to increase the used space in 15 days to the double???? Ok, i can add now another drive (ex. 1 TB) and it would be full in some weeks.

    Isn't it possible to tell WHS to remove some older backups and consolidate the backup drive? i can't add a drive every few weeks.

     

    regards

    stefan

    Thursday, August 11, 2011 12:42 PM
  • From my experience (on my two servers), that is not normal behaviour! No you can't tell WHS to remove older backups. You do not need to add a new drive every few weeks - you can just rotate two drives, storing one off site and cleaning it for a new backup set when the other drive is full and taken to off site storage.
    Phil P.S. If you find my comment helpful or if it answers your question, please mark it as such.
    Thursday, August 11, 2011 12:48 PM
  • The server backup configuration does list backup of the pagefile.sys and temporary folders like c:\Windows\temp ... etc

    I haven't actually looked in the resulting files and tried to recover those files and folders but at least it looks like there may be unnecessary files changing often in the backups. This may not be the fact if they are excluded in some other place but I would prefer them not beeing listed if they are not included.

    Thursday, August 11, 2011 1:09 PM
  • On any functioning (i.e. powered on) computer, files change regularly. Mostly log files, but yes, files do change. Additionally, there's some overhead involved in creating a new backup, so you should expect some growth over time.

    And as I said, backups should be pruned when the disk fills up (though some users have had issues with this), so you shouldn't have to add a new drive every few weeks. There is no dashboard tool to manually prune them, however, and there's no way to set a retention policy.

    Have you configured anything on your server other than by using the dashboard? Installed any additional software? Installed any add-ins?


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Thursday, August 11, 2011 1:12 PM
  • And as I said, backups should be pruned when the disk fills up (though some users have had issues with this), so you shouldn't have to add a new drive every few weeks. There is no dashboard tool to manually prune them, however, and there's no way to set a retention policy.

    Confirming:
    I have two WHS servers both backing up to a single 2TB disk. Both servers initially fill up the backup disk to about 50-200GB free space. At tha time I get the "Free space is low in sever backup" alert. This alert actually a warning  that some older backup's will be deleted in time to free up space for any future backups. To my knowledge there is no way in telling wich of the histroic backups are deleted (other then trying to restore them).

    This implies that historic server backups are not (or only partly) kept and only the most recent backup in time is garanteed to be available for restoring server data. If this is not acceptable standard procedure is to rotate the backup disk with a second, third, etc. disk on a regular basis.

    - Theo.

    PS - I would say this behaviour is somewhat similar to the file/folder "Privous versions" functionality: depending on disk usage, prevoious versions of your files will be purged to fee up space for new versions.


    No home server like Home Server
    Sunday, August 14, 2011 7:38 PM
  • Sorry, Theo, my experience is that the automatic pruning of server backups is not working correctly. Perhaps it's because I rotate my backup drives, but this is supposed to be a supported scenario. I've documented the saga here: http://gcoupe.wordpress.com/2011/07/23/server-backups-in-windows-home-server-2011/
    Monday, August 15, 2011 8:32 AM
  • Hi Geoff,
    Intersting article. Even though I must admit the situation is confusing, I still think backup was running within operational specifications until you interfered as described from "Update 30 July 2011". I do think that if you just waited for the next backup it would have been succesfully... (Did you try?)

    I do occasionally get these "Unsuccesfull" backup errors. Most of the time this happens I can trace it down to the volume shadow copy service not beeing run (or able to run properly) before starting the backup. I think the "problem" has to do with the fact that server backup is based on volume shadow copies and is actually a  two fase operation:

    1. Run the volume shadow copy service using vssadmin.exe to create a shadow copy for each data volume (sort of a snapshot of the drives data)
    2. Backup the shadow copy data (created twice a day) using wbadmin.exe.

    Look at your servers taskscheduler. In the root of the Task Scedular Library you will find a shedule defined for each data volume.
    By defaul, each is scheduled to run at 06:00 and 13:00h. These are the schedules that will create the actual Volume Shadow copies.

    Next look at the Microsoft\Windows\Backup hive. This is where WHS schedules the actual backup process executed by wbadmin.exe. Scheduled times will be as defined using the server backup wizard.

    There is one other fact (I think it it mentioned somewhere in the user dcoumentation) that can be a problem. The total data volume that can be backup to the server backup disk should be a factor less (i think is was some 20%?) then the total size of the backup disk. Prefered is having about 50% additional space. So if your total volume in the shares (including the client backup data) is abou 1TByte, use a backup disk size 1.5TByte or more.

    So - in short - my advise:

    • Ignore occasional "backup unsuccesfull" errors.
      It means the most recent backup schedule was lost, but backup will (should) repair on the next backup scheduled following the VSS schedule (twice a day at 06:00h and 13:00h)
    • Ignore the "Free space is low" warning events, or rotate the disks.
    • Make sure the total data volume to backup x 1.5 "fits" the available size of the backup disk.
    • The list of backups as shown under the backup disks properties only telsl you wether the backup ran succesfully or not at the time. There is no garante on the actual backup still beeing available (it could be purged, the backup disk it was on could be lost or wiped) 
    • You can only "restart" with a clean backup disk by eighter adding a new disk or by wiping you backupdisk (delete the data partition)

    The above stated, I do agree server backup for WHS 2011 is not matured and needs work.
    (or if you are an expert user you can choose to leave server backup for what it is and use the backup tools that come with the OS)

    - Theo.


    No home server like Home Server
    Monday, August 15, 2011 7:32 PM
  • (or if you are an expert user you can choose to leave server backup for what it is and use the backup tools that come with the OS)
    It's the same tool. Windows Home Server 2011 puts a wrapper around it and hides a little complexity, but Server Backup has a bunch of interface and usability issues, which is why nobody really uses it.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Monday, August 15, 2011 7:47 PM
  • (or if you are an expert user you can choose to leave server backup for what it is and use the backup tools that come with the OS)
    It's the same tool. Windows Home Server 2011 puts a wrapper around it and hides a little complexity, but Server Backup has a bunch of interface and usability issues, which is why nobody really uses it.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)

    Ken

    As a new user to WHS2011 what is a good backup tool. I do not care about the windows software as I can reload it but my data is different.

     


    Emmett
    Monday, August 15, 2011 9:30 PM
  • Depends on how much data you have - up to 2TB then no problem. More than that and you start to look at other solutions but I am not aware of anything that's supported on WHS 2011.
    Phil P.S. If you find my comment helpful or if it answers your question, please mark it as such.
    Monday, August 15, 2011 9:33 PM
  • Phil

     

    I am only using 350GB for the data side right now. I assume this includes my 2 work stations backups does it not? My server has 2 drives with a 1TB and a 500Gb drive. My problem will be with my backup drive I believe which is only a 500GB with 155 free as of right now. This may turn out to be too small.

     


    Emmett
    Monday, August 15, 2011 9:43 PM
  • A relatively small investment in a new (reliable/new) 2TB for external storage should do it. Ideally of course you should rotate a backup drive with one stored off-site.
    Phil P.S. If you find my comment helpful or if it answers your question, please mark it as such.
    • Proposed as answer by Emmett Chapman Monday, August 15, 2011 10:01 PM
    Monday, August 15, 2011 9:47 PM
  • I have been looking at a Seagate 2TB green drive 5900 RPM for $75.00 all ready. Like in other posts I read off site may be a thing possible (sons house) with 2 of them when 1 gets filled.


    Emmett
    Monday, August 15, 2011 9:57 PM
  • Personally I use Western Digital Green drives (WD20EARS or the newer WD20EARX) which are a similar price, but I guess that's just a matter of taste
    Phil P.S. If you find my comment helpful or if it answers your question, please mark it as such.
    Monday, August 15, 2011 10:14 PM
  • And if you have more than 2TB, then use WHS v1.  It lets one use multiple drives at the same time for server backup.  Set it up, tick on "Remember these settings for future backups" and away you go.  First backup may take a long time, but subsequent backups go quickly, only backing up what has changed.  Caveat, must run manually, or set up in task scheduler which works, but is unsupported.  I chose manual.


    _______________

    BullDawg
    In God We Trust
    _______________
    <Phil Harrison> wrote in message news:b4178193-22d3-4fe0-8f3d-c6de81d658a9@communitybridge.codeplex.com...

    Depends on how much data you have - up to 2TB then no problem. More than that and you start to look at other solutions but I am not aware of anything that's supported on WHS 2011.


    Phil P.S. If you find my comment helpful or if it answers your question, please mark it as such.


    BullDawg
    Monday, August 15, 2011 10:33 PM
  • I don't have specific recommendations, I'm afraid. I find the built in tools adequate for my needs, but I have a relatively modest amount of data, and 2 TB limitations aren't limitations at all for me. Anything I might recommend would be designed for, and priced for, enterprise use.
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Tuesday, August 16, 2011 4:29 AM
  • Theo, thanks for your response to my blog post. You suggest that you:

    'still think backup was running within operational specifications until you interfered as described from "Update 30 July 2011". I do think that if you just waited for the next backup it would have been succesfully... (Did you try?)'

    By 'interfering' I assume that you mean using the Dashboard to kick off a manual backup of the server? Since this is a standard function of the Dashboard, I'm not sure that I would view it as 'interfering'.

    I also note that it was a manual backup of the first drive that caused WHS 2011 to clear out all the backups on that drive and start afresh. Thus, having had two backup failures in succession with the second drive, I reasoned that a manual backup operation might cause WHS 2011 to clear out the second drive as well. When it didn't (and I got my fourth backup failure in two days on that drive), I thought the time had come to remove it completely and add it afresh.

    My 1TB backup discs fall within Microsoft's guidelines of having 50% additional space, since, as I state in my post, I backup 610GB of server data.

    I agree that

    The list of backups as shown under the backup disks properties only telsl you wether the backup ran succesfully or not at the time. There is no garante on the actual backup still beeing available (it could be purged, the backup disk it was on could be lost or wiped)

    My point here is twofold:

    • This could be confusing to the Home User. It's not spelled out anywhere in Microsoft's documentation, as far as I can see.
    • When drive #1 was reformatted by WHS 2011, the list of successful backups was purged from the list shown in the Windows 2008 Server Manager. However, when drive #2 was reformatted by WHS 2011 (by being added in afresh), the list of successful backups was NOT purged - even though WHS 2011 stated that it had found previous backups on the drive. I find this inconsistent behaviour.

    We also agree that server backup for WHS 2011 is not matured and needs work. I hope that Microsoft do this. In my opinion, its current state is not robust enough for the Home User.

    Thanks again for your comments. 

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011 7:29 AM
  • By 'interfering' I assume that you mean using the Dashboard to kick off a manual backup of the server? Since this is a standard function of the Dashboard, I'm not sure that I would view it as 'interfering'.

    Hi Geof,
    You are right. Maybe I should have frased it as "left it alone". Actually that is sort of how I use server backup: I set and forget.
    I do checkup the server state on a regular basis to see how it is doing. Most of the time It repairs itself from alerts thrown to the Launchpad.

    Server backup I see as a "safety net" that saves my server data if something bad happens to it that I can reapir. With the backup at hand I can restore/repair the server system or data in times of trouble. That is why I have the main 2TB backup disk "build-in" to the server to be 'rotated' only 2 or 3 times per year.

    I value my personal data. Things I would get out of my house in case of emergencies would be (in that order) my kids, my wife, my data and the cat ;-) For actually safegarding my data I never-ever put my trust in one single backup system. So for data backup's I use plain robocopy scripts to "mirror" the server data to one or more external USB-disks that I keep safe offsite and rotated on a regular basis.

    We also agree that server backup for WHS 2011 is not matured and needs work. I hope that Microsoft do this. In my opinion, its current state is not robust enough for the Home User.

    We all can help improving WHS by reporting our finding (bugs, problems, suggestions) to Connect. Or by just voting on reports from others. The more votes the higher it will come on the MS's todo list. If you put your findings on Connect (and maybe post a link to it to this frum) I can not garantee MS will use it. But you will sure have my vote.

    - Theo.


    No home server like Home Server
    Tuesday, August 16, 2011 6:44 PM
  • Theo,

    Thanks again for your comments. I'd already put a pointer to my experiences on Microsoft Connect several days agao: https://connect.microsoft.com/WindowsHomeServer/feedback/details/679472/server-backup

    We'll see whether Microsoft listen to our feedback in order to improve their product...

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011 9:17 PM