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WHS OS Backup Solved RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • I solved WHS OS backup by running two copies of WHS each on its own computer in a virtual machine with each WHS backing up the other (running in a VM makes the WHS a file thus able to be backed up and restored by WHS).


    Doug
    Tuesday, August 24, 2010 5:54 AM

All replies

  • Are you backing up the entire server? All drives? Have you tested restoring after changing/adding/removing/moving files? I've experimented with this: if you restore the system drive without restoring all data drives, you will almost certainly experience file conflict and other errors if there have been any changes. And you will experience other errors if you restore the system drive after changing the storage pool (adding/removing drives).

    Also, note that Windows Home Server will not generally back up an open file; since it's intended to be running 24x7, your .vhds may be significantly out of date in the backup.


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

    Tuesday, August 24, 2010 12:26 PM
    Moderator
  • Yes, I am backing up the entire server (one virtual machine file) along with the balance of the PC upon which Windows Home Server is running in a Virtual machine.

    Yes, I am backing up all drives as the virtual machine file contains Windows Small Business Server 2003, Windows Home Server OS, other applications installed on Small Business Server, and the PC data.  As my total data (multiple PCs backed up) footprint is relatively small, it all resides as one file, on one physical disk, on the PC in which the virtual machine is running.

    Regarding restoring the Windows Home Server running in a virtual machine, I do not think it is possible to restore the system drive without the data drives as the entire virtual machine is one file as described above.

    Regarding restore testing, I have restored the Windows Home Server virtual machine file using a PC upon which the Windows Home Server virtual machine is not running, powered on the restored Windows Home Server virtual machine file using VM software, attached the PCs backed up by this Windows Home Server and ran backups successfully.

    I have restored data files from the restored Windows Home Server Virtual machine.  I have not restored an operating system from the restored Windows Home Server virtual machine.

    Regarding Windows Home Server not backing up open files, it seems to as I leave my applications open over night when the backups occur and I have verified the files are backed up.  Also, how can Windows Home Server not back up open files be true since Windows Home Server can do bare metal restores?


    Doug
    Thursday, August 26, 2010 2:55 AM
  • Hmm. Backing up a vhd file isn't quite the same thing as backing up Windows Home Server, though it is pretty much the same effect in the end. I think your "solution" is impractical for general use; it requires a lot of hardware, and will wind up being a pretty high-maintenance configuration, I'm afraid.

    Open files: Windows Home Server uses volume shadowcopy services on the client (the computer being backed up) to get a consistent "point in time" snapshot of the data on a drive. Consistent in this case means "all files in their state as of the time the snapshot was taken". Some applications hold a file open the entire time they're running, some of those may not flush data to disk regularly, and some of those may not do so when a snapshot is taken (usually because they don't repond to the appropriate API hooks). In such a case, there may be hours, days, even weeks of accumulated changes that haven't been flushed to disk if the application runs 24x7, and those changes will be lost.

     


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Thursday, August 26, 2010 12:48 PM
    Moderator
  • Thanks for the explanation of how Windows Home Server handles open files.  It appears if I close the client applications or reboot the client  prior to the backup (which I do), Windows Home Server should get a good snapshot of the client data files.

    Regarding requiring lots of hardware, actually it is less as I set out on this path as a substitute for replacing my nine year old Windows Home Server and will accomplish the conversion by adding one hard drive to each existing PC that runs Windows Home Server in a virtual machine.  I did have to buy a copy of Windows Home Server.


    Doug
    Thursday, August 26, 2010 6:10 PM
  • To further clarify the hardware, I have six PCs today including the server being retired. The remaining, when conversion is completed, will have both of my Windows Home Servers running in Virtual Machines with my five computers split among the two Windows Home Servers (to which I have added the hard drives). Computer 1 running Windows Home Server A backs up Compter 2 running Windows Home Server B. Computer 2 runing Windows Home Server B backs up Compter 1 running Windows Home Server A. The remaining three computers are typical PCs which are also backed up by their respective Windows Home Server.


    Doug
    Friday, August 27, 2010 2:30 AM
  • Further clarification: All five PCs including the two running Windows Home Server are application PCs.
    Doug
    Friday, August 27, 2010 3:46 AM
  • You will need to purchase one copy of Windows Home Server for each VM; using a single copy and cloning it is illegal.

    And, to be honest, your architecture is more complex than it needs to be. A single dedicated server is simple, and you can back the shares up to take them off-site pretty readily. But if it floats your boat, go for it. :)


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Friday, August 27, 2010 12:30 PM
    Moderator
  • On Fri, 27 Aug 2010 12:30:46 +0000, Ken Warren [MVP] wrote:

    You will need to purchase one copy of Windows Home Server for each VM; using a single copy and cloning it is illegal.

    And, to be honest, your architecture is more complex than it needs to be. A single dedicated server is simple, and you can back the shares up to take them off-site pretty readily. But if it floats your boat, go for it. :)

    Getting offsite copies of the backups is not nearly so simple, and I
    think using VMs is a rather elegant solution.

    Friday, August 27, 2010 7:08 PM
  • Getting offsite copies of the backups is not nearly so simple, and I think using VMs is a rather elegant solution.

    Nah. It's a somewhat ugly (but potentially functional) hack. :) The difficulty of backing up the server at an arbitrary point in time is a weakness of the design of Windows Home Server V1, and this may get the OP around that weakness.

    I can think of issues that the OP may not have, but I'm interested to see where this goes and what solutions he comes up with. The first two that come to mind:

    • Windows Home Server is designed to be on 24x7. Now the OP has two desktops running 24x7 instead of one server. Presumably that means he's using (at least) 2x the power to run them.
    • When he backs Server A up to Server B, winds up with a copy of Server A's backup database. Which contains a copy of Server B's backup database as of the previous backup. And vice versa. My sense is that this won't reach an exponential growth curve (because of the regualr pruning WHS does), but it will certainly grow pretty large.

    As for the backup database, install the BDBB add-in and you can back it up to disk pretty easily. Not that I bother; I'm okay with losing the backup database. But if you aren't, that's the way to go. Then you can carry it off-site just like the shares.


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Friday, August 27, 2010 7:41 PM
    Moderator
  • I have a legal copy of Windows Home Server for each virtual machine thanks.

    You are right my architecture is more complex but I am going for it.  I like to investigate and am retired so have the time to address the issues.

    Regarding offsite, the drive on computer 2 is external to which I could copy the virtual machine file from computer 1 and take the drive offsite (after providing another drive for computer 2 to use).  The drive would contain all my computers data and the Windows Home Servers ready to run when powered on by a new Virtual machine (this may not be legal but certainly practical).  I have not committed to this yet.

    Regarding power, my two desktops already run 24x7 so will use less power when my physical Windows Home Server is retired.

    Drive space should be no more than twice my current Windows Home Server which I have space for on my hard drives (as I said earlier my data footprint is small).


    Doug
    Friday, August 27, 2010 11:00 PM
  • Completed successful operating system drive restore of my least critical computer from the computer (computer 1) that runs Windows Home Server in a virtual machine that backs up the restored computer.  Next test will be the same restore but from computer 2 using the virtual machine file backed up from computer 1 (by the virtual machine Windows Home Server running on computer 2).
    Doug
    Saturday, August 28, 2010 4:14 AM