none
Old backups after windows 7 upgrade with 10 computer limit? RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • So I have 9 computers backing up on to WHS and am starting to convert some of the PC's over to Windows 7.  The problem is the 10 limit on WHS.  I still only have the same 9 PC's but the Windows 7 install is another machine.     

    So how are all of you going to keep your old backups?

    I mean the whole idea of the the WHS is to be able to keep backups and I do not like the idea of loosing all of my old backups just because I want to upgrade the machine to windows 7. 

    Seems to me that a computer is a computer regardless of the the version of the operating system and it should not take up 2 machines spots on WHS.

    Now I always do a clean install when I upgrade a machine as many years in the software business has taught me that upgrades create more problems then they are worth.

    I would love to hear how all of you are planning to handle this.  
    • Changed type kariya21Moderator Friday, November 20, 2009 2:25 AM not a technical question
    Thursday, November 19, 2009 4:17 PM

All replies

  • So I have 9 computers backing up on to WHS and am starting to convert some of the PC's over to Windows 7.  The problem is the 10 limit on WHS.  I still only have the same 9 PC's but the Windows 7 install is another machine.     

    So how are all of you going to keep your old backups?

    I didn't.  They're already gone.  There is no reason to archive a backup of an OS I'm not using any more.

    I mean the whole idea of the the WHS is to be able to keep backups and I do not like the idea of loosing all of my old backups just because I want to upgrade the machine to windows 7. 

    No, the whole idea of WHS backups is to be able to restore your computer to it's "last known good configuration" when you have a hard drive failure, virus, etc.  It's not designed to archive backups (which is what you want).  You should get a cloning program for that (Ghost, TrueImage, etc.).

    Seems to me that a computer is a computer regardless of the the version of the operating system and it should not take up 2 machines spots on WHS.

    Now I always do a clean install when I upgrade a machine as many years in the software business has taught me that upgrades create more problems then they are worth.

    I would love to hear how all of you are planning to handle this.  

    Friday, November 20, 2009 2:25 AM
    Moderator
  • No, the whole idea of WHS backups is to be able to restore your computer to it's "last known good configuration" when you have a hard drive failure, virus, etc.  It's not designed to archive backups (which is what you want).  You should get a cloning program for that (Ghost, TrueImage, etc.)


    Please, no offense..... I've seen comments in this forum from time to time that say that WHS is not designed to archive backups... is that stated officially by Microsoft? A reference please? Just seems to me that the functionality is there if one wishes to keep backups...

    I keep "selective" backups to help ensure I can get to a "last known good state."

    I keep a backup dated from the start of each month for the last 3 months, and 1 for each week for the past 4 weeks, and 1 for each day of the current week so as to get me back to the "last known good configuration" if I need to go back that far.  Maybe that's a little too much, but something similar is listed in the WHS documentation. I figure that sometimes a program install doesn't create problems right away. May take several days, and then boom! I discover something else is broken. So I may need to go back a bit in time to get my backup from before the offending program was installed.  I also keep a "clean install backup." I also use a "cloning program" - image program - to burn images to DVD during the initial OS install and updates, but I've become lax about it since I've had my WHS - I just let it perform a backup before I install.

    Am I doing something WHS was not intended for?

    EDIT: Ok, the light just turned on in my head .... When kariya 21 says "not designed to archive backups" he means something like: 'not designed to archive backups for computers no longer on your network' i.e., computers that have had their OS upgraded, or have 'died' or have been replaced -- WHS was not designed to keep archived backups for all these computers (that's the job of a disk imaging program, like Ghost, Acronis, BootIt NG, etc.) --- Ok, I'm sloooow.  Sorry, but I learned something.

    Friday, November 20, 2009 6:52 AM
  • If Windows Home Server would be designed for archiving backups, the backup database would be designed in a different way. Currently it does not offer redundancy or protection against issues like a failing disk or even a damaged disk sector within the backup database.
    It has been stated, that this is the case, because the backup for a failed backup database is the backed up PC itself.

    I have seen people reporting, that they successfully mounted a backup do a client PC, and while it was mounted, used tools like imagex or a VHD converter to create a disk image in WIM or VHD format from this mounted backup.
    Such images can be put aside independent of Windows Home Server.

    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Friday, November 20, 2009 7:37 AM
    Moderator
  • I have to admit that this the first time responses have truly angered me.  So if my tone is harsh well that is my frame of mind.

    Kariay21 - You are absolutely wrong! 


    Restore files, folders, and entire computers easily

    With Windows Home Server's data recovery capabilities, you can bring back individual files or folders for a home computer. You can even rescue a PC that's had an unfortunate accident or hard drive failure because Windows Home Server makes a copy of the entire contents of your home computer hard drive.



    FIRST THING MENTIONED:  you can bring back individual files or folders for a home computer

    Read the litereature.  This is how the product is sold.  First I keep off-site copies of stuff. I care about my data.  Who gives a fig about the OS, the data is what is important to me.  You do obviously do not keep data that changes over time and on occasion have need to go back and pick up something from the past year or so.  

    So how is WHS default configured when you get it?

    Automatic Backup Management:
    How days:
    How many weeks:
    How may months:

    Again this completes disagrees with your statements on only to restore to the last know good configuration: 

    NOTE:  MONTHS, not upgrade and lose yesterdays data.

    When you upgrade you loose all of this functionality!

    Really?  "You should get a cloning program for that (Ghost, TrueImage, etc.).,"  If I have to do that then I might as well just put in a linux server as they are much better performing.  The automatic backup was the main reason for me to go with WHS. 

    Anyways you missing the entire point.  It functions exactly the way I want it to until I upgrade the operating  system on a computer.  At that point I loose my backups.  The backups are the reason that I use WHS.   


    Anyways I am not looking for the MVP's to blindly rah rah defend this product but am really interested in hearing how end users that actually care about their data are planning on handling this.



    Friday, November 20, 2009 12:50 PM
  • (Note: I'm a Windows Home Server MVP. I like the product a lot, but am willing to point out the warts. Which, after all, is one thing that makes MVPs valuable community members: we're willing to say things that you will never hear from Microsoft. Heck, Microsoft even likes it when we do that. Sometimes... :) )

    Speaking for myself, I have a multi-layered backup strategy. (A backup plan that relies on a single point of failure might as well not exist.) That includes Windows Home Server backup for my workstations, along with taking backups of critical data off-site regularly. This should be common sense, but it bears repeating from time to time: if you have a single point of failure, that point will eventually fail and you will have nothing on which to fall back. Windows Home Server give you a second point of failure, but there are still risks because it's co-located with your other home computers. If you use Windows Home Server for archiving your computer's backups, this is an even more important point.

    The relative fragility of the backup database should be obvious. It's not duplicated and has no internal redundancy, so anything (soft or hard disk error, bug, "random cosmic ray", etc.) that corrupts data in any component of the database is guaranteed to corrupt at least one backup of one computer. Depending on the database component that gets damaged, you could lose all backups for a particular computer, or even all backups for all computers, when you repair the database. As a result of this fragility, I do not recommend relying solely on Windows Home Server for archival backups of your home computers' states at an arbitrary point in time. I don't care what the documentation or marketing literature says, it's just not a good idea.

    Now, as for your particular scenario. Windows Home Server will not allow you to have more than 10 computers in your backup database. That is a hard limit and there's no way you're going to get around it. You have a few options for solving your current dilemma, as I see it:

    • You can simply abandon your current backups. Remove computers, clean up the database using the tools in the console, upgrade them, back them up again.
    • You can upgrade one computer at a time (you have one open computer "slot", I believe). When you're satisfied that that computer is stable, delete the old (Vista, XP) one, run the backup database maintenance wizard (to purge that old computer from the backup database) and move on to the next PC.
    • Another option is to "upgrade in place" which may allow you to reconnect to the backups for the previous operating system, i.e. Windows Home Server will see the "new" OS as the same computer.
    • Yet another is to follow the instructions in the Home Computer Backup and Restore technical brief to back your database up to external storage. You could install the BDBB add-in if you envision doing this regularly. It does the same thing, but more automatically.
    • You could even install a second server, and join your computers to that when you upgrade them.

    Personally, I like the "one at a time" approach, possibly in concert with the "copy the database" approach.


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Friday, November 20, 2009 2:34 PM
    Moderator

  • The easiest (and completely unsupported) method is to rejoin the new OS to the previous computer's account on WHS.

    On WHS, the clients are identified primarily by an assigned GUID.
    Simply pull this from the machine before upgrading the OS and put it back after reinstalling the connector.

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Home Server\Transport\GUID

    If the machine has already been upgraded you should be able to figure out which GUID you need from this key on the server:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Home Server\Transport\Clients

    Each subkey is the GUID of one of your client machines.

    Reboot and run discovery.exe when you see the red WHS alert stating that your association with WHS is damaged.
    You should also reconfigure backups from the console, and delete the duplicate name without any backups associated with it.

    Be careful and don't delete anything from the server's registry.

    -timotl

    Friday, November 20, 2009 2:45 PM
  • I'm in a similiar situation to "Mike in Pardise," (I have 9 computers in the backup database now) and with Windows 7 out now, there will more people upgrading their computers and hitting the 10-limit wall -- So it sure helps to understand what is going on with the WHS backup database and to plan accordingly.

    Ken's points about the backup database's inherent fragility are well taken. I use the BDBB add-in and backup the 'backup database' weekly, alternating 2 external hard drives.  BDBB also allows duplication of the 'backup database' on WHS itself--although the author points out this feature is unsupported - I don't use it, but if others have with good results, I will reconsider. Any way, with my current  approach,  all my computers are backed up nightly to WHS, and the 'backup database' is backed up weekly to external storage in case of a WHS failure. Additionally, all shares of WHS are backed up to the external drives the same way.

    Regarding my important data - as Mike in Paradise mentioned - that is more critical than the OS to me. To add an extra layer of redundancy to the data, I schedule Synctoy to run at night and backup critical data to a WHS share which has 'duplication' turned on. (Happily, Synctoy has just been updated to work with 64 bit OS's like my Windows 7 installs). So if a client computer goes down/needs repairs, etc., I can get at it's data easily from the WHS Share if needed.

    Moreover, my important data is in 5 places: (1) the client computer  (2) the WHS backup database -- which I can access via view/restore files on the WHS console (3) the rotated external hard drive backups of the WHS backup database - ideally kept off site, but not always (4) the WHS duplicated share, (5) the backup of the WHS shares on the external drives.

    Thus, for me to experience loss of all my data, I would have to (1) lose the client computers hard drive, (2) lose at least 2 hard drives on the WHS (because share duplication is turned on), (3) lose both external "backup database" drives.

    Additionally, now that my 2 external drives are filling up, it's time to get another external drive. I'm planning on using one external drive just to backup the WHS shares, and the "backup database" will continue to be copied to the original 2 external drives. That will thus provide a 4th hard drive that will have to be lost for me to have a catastrophic loss of all data. The chances of losing all those drives are pretty slim. Saving critical data in "the cloud" would add more protection, but that opens up other issues.

    And just for added measure, before I've upgraded my computers (I've been doing clean, dual boot setups) I use a disk imaging program to image the entire computer to DVD's. That way, if I have to go back to the 'old' setup, I still can.

    However, I must say that I still feel a little bit of anxiety when it comes to deleting one of my computers from the "Computers and Backup" Window in WHS. Nevertheless, all the data is reasonably safe, so my anxiety is unwarranted.

    I'm not suggesting that my setup is best -- it's just what I'm using and what works for me. Once it's setup, all I have to do is backup to the external drives on the weekend, and I'm done. No big deal.



    Friday, November 20, 2009 5:46 PM

  • No, the whole idea of WHS backups is to be able to restore your computer to it's "last known good configuration" when you have a hard drive failure, virus, etc.  It's not designed to archive backups (which is what you want).  You should get a cloning program for that (Ghost, TrueImage, etc.).

    I'm with some of the others here, that's simply *NOT* true. If they only wanted us to be able to restore the "last known good configuration," they wouldn't have given us the option to save backups for a configurable number of days, weeks and months.



    "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -- Thomas Paine
    Saturday, November 21, 2009 3:52 AM
  • I am in a much better humour this morning in spite of being up at 4am and working on installing Google's new ChromeOS in a VirtualBox on a Kubuntu PC.

    Some great suggestions and I am not surpised that I am not the only one that actually cares about backing up multiple generations of data.

    I am going to try timot'sl suggestion with copying the registry key on a computer this weekend.  That is a great tidbit of information, exactly the type of detail that I was looking for.

    I too have very little faith in WHS as a single source of data.  Everything that I have on the server data, music, pictures, etc is all a copy of information where the primary store is on an individual computer.  That way it is copied twice(orig pc + WHS), plus the WHS shares are duplicated plus they are stored in the indiviuals PC backups on WHS plus they are all stored off-site. I would really like to have multiple generations stored on Hard Disks off site and maybe when I start up sizing the drives in the WHS I will do that.

    I have been debating on taking period snapshots of the backup data base and keeping those in multiple generations and might do that over time as I free up some hard drives.

    I would still love to hear others experiences with this.

    I am curious if Ken's comment on trying a window's 7 upgrade actually keeps that backups stream for computer intact not that I would ever trust an in place upgrade.  Too much bad history with this.

    Saturday, November 21, 2009 1:11 PM
  • Mike, "upgrade in place" today is a much different beast from "upgrade in place" 5 years ago. It does a much better job of producing a stable computer that performs well and preserves settings, installed software, etc. than it used to. That said, I don't exactly blame you for resisting the idea. :)

    SME has a point regarding intended use of Windows Home Server backups. Microsoft undoubtedly intended that it be possible to keep a backup for a significant period of time, as you can mark one as retained and it won't be considered for deletion in the regular weekly maintenance. In my own situation, I have never had a problem which required a reset or repair of the database, so I could, if I desired, have backups from early November 2007 (I actually do have one). However, the relative fragility of the backup database argues against this use. It's a question of theory versus practice, really.

    Also, the average end user of Windows Home Server is not you or I. It's someone who walks into Best Buy and picks up an HP MediaSmart Server. That average user doesn't want an archive. (Possibly he doesn't even understand why you or I might want an archive.) He wants to be able to restore his son's PC to a point just before his son installed that cute cursor program that loaded it down with malware. Or he wants to restore the computer in the family room after the hard drive fails, because it has his wife's family photos. In that role, the resilience of the backup database doesn't really matter. All that matters is that there be a recent good backup still in the database, because he's not going to go further back than that.
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Saturday, November 21, 2009 3:18 PM
    Moderator
  • Some success doing a test of this :) Now I did the process a little different then Timotl suggested as I wanted to see if I could do this without adding a new machine and then deleting it and I tried replacing the registry key during the install of the WHS connector software and this worked For the test I took an older media center pc that I seldom update or backup:

     

    This means that this will work even if you have all 10 computers spots used.

    Step 1: I went into the registry using regedit and exported the following key as Timotl suggested to a folder on WHS (actually it exports the transport key not just the GUID value)

     

    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Home Server\Transport\GUID

     

    Step 2: I installed windows 7 on this machine. By the way it does not have a DVD and will not boot off a USB as it is so old but I used the free program: VirtualDriveClone to access the ISO which was loaded into a share on the WHS. I replace the MythTV linux partition on this drive and installed Windows 7 into it.

     

    Step 3: I fixed all the drivers under windows 7, and had to use some Vista Drivers as Dell did not have Windows 7 Drivers for this machine.

     

    Step 4: I ran the WHS connector software setup program off of the WHS Software share: When it got to the point where it asked for the WHS password:

     

    Step 5: I went to the start menu and ran regedit and imported the registry key that I had save from the XP partition

     

    Step 6: I went back to the WHS Connection software install program in progress and entered the WHS password and let the install complete.

     

    Step 7: I tried to backup the Windows 7 partition and promptly got an error saying that I had to fix the configuration on WHS.

     

    Step 8: I signed on the WHS Console and this is what I saw:

     

     

    It shows the old XP drive Twice ( remember I still have the old and new partition still on this machine. I unchecked both the old drive as C: and also where it is now the D: under Windows 7. When I did this it asked if I wanted to get rid of the old C: backups or keep them and checked off to keep them.

     

    Step 9: I ran the backup on the Windows 7 upgrade which now ran fine :) So here is the machine (which by the way I renamed from Dell2400 to
    MedaCenterDell when I installed windows 7 showing both XP and Windows 7 backups under the single machine.

     

     

    Here is a file accessable from the oldest XP backup:

     

     

    Sooo Consider me a happy camper. Now I just have to decide when to bite the bullet and upgrade some other machines.

     

    By the way Windows 7 runs better than XP on the old dell bearing in mind that that the XP install is about 4 years old with the exception of the media center in windows 7 and it is very slow. I am going to put the MythTV back on this PC but it served the test purpose well!
    Sunday, November 22, 2009 5:48 PM
  • As a further note: I am back running the original XP partition on the old Dell and again when you go to back it up it tells you the drive backup configuration for the pc needs to be corrected.  I selected this PC in the PC tab on WHS and configured it back to backup the original XP drive. 

    Backups just fine.

    I now have mixed XP and Windows 7 Backups for the single machine which I had no trouble going in to and pulling files off of.  

    Bear in mind that this was done before PP3 so I will have to try it again when I install pp3 which I understand is to be released publicly later today.
    Tuesday, November 24, 2009 10:43 AM
  • Besides the fact, that this experiment scraps on the limits of the EULA (the installation of different OS will be seen as two different computers by WHS, but since it is running on the same computer hardware it is strictly seen still one computer), you made an interesting point. At any time an upgrade for Windows Home Server could change some structures - be it in the backup database or in the registry, which makes it impossible to find the correct point of return to an old backup/PC even after server reinstall.
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Tuesday, November 24, 2009 6:52 PM
    Moderator
  • Besides the fact, that this experiment scraps on the limits of the EULA (the installation of different OS will be seen as two different computers by WHS, but since it is running on the same computer hardware it is strictly seen still one computer), you made an interesting point. At any time an upgrade for Windows Home Server could change some structures - be it in the backup database or in the registry, which makes it impossible to find the correct point of return to an old backup/PC even after server reinstall.
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Olaf, Have you actually read the end user license agreement? 

    b.    Additional Software.
     
    ·    Windows Home Server Connector - You may install and use the Windows Home Server Connector software on up to 10 of your personal computers.  Each personal computer on which you install this software must be on the same local area network as your server software.  You may use this software only with the server software.

    ·    Windows Home Server Computer Restore - You may install and use the Windows Home Server Computer Restore software on each personal computer on which you have previously installed the Windows Home Server Connector software.  You may only restore the backup image to the same personal computer from which the backup was created.  You may use this software only with the server software.



    There is absolutely no illegality even remotely connected with doing this!  Nor does it in any way shape or form violate the end user licence agreement! 

    If in your opinion it does violate the license could you please point this out referring to the specific text of the end user license agreement which is the the legal contract controling the use of this product.


    Find me one place in the end user agreement that talks about anything else other than a personal computer?   

    Now I will completely agree with you that microsoft may well change the software and this could cause problems in the future but the reality is that

    THEY SHOULD HAVE TAKEN UPGRADES INTO ACCOUNT IN THE DESIGN OF THE BACKUP SOFTWARE!!!!

    Again I repeat, upgrade today and lose yesterdays backups is a very poor design decision!

    (EDIT: removed cut'n'paste WHS EULA; the <pre> formatting made it impossible to read and everyone here should have a copy anyway. - Mod.)
    • Edited by Ken WarrenModerator Wednesday, November 25, 2009 2:04 PM removed WHS EULA; everyone in the forum should have a copy and the formatting was impossible to read
    Wednesday, November 25, 2009 11:48 AM
  • Hi,
    thanks for correcting me.
    I did read that EULA in German language long time ago, English is not my native language, and these EULAs are usually not very consumer friendly worded, so I might have been too cautious in this case.
    (And if it comes to the installation of operating systems or applications, often enough you are not entitled to activate more than one copy even if installed on the same machine in a dual boot scenario without purchasing another license.)
    Maybe I should have written "May scrap on the limits of the EULA".
    In the past I have read similar hints, if it came to more than 10 physical computers, therefore my clarification in the brackets.

    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Wednesday, November 25, 2009 12:48 PM
    Moderator
  • timotl, the trick of using the same GUID as the previous install worked great.  I had already installed Win7 on my netbook before I realized I had hit the 10 machine limit but was able to find the proper GUID easily in the Server's registry link you mention.  I replaced the GUID on my netbook from the failed attempt to install the HWS Connector software, re-ran the install, and it treated it as the same machine.  It did list two C: drives when I went to configure the backup so I just unchecked the old one.

    I suspect you could create the registry key and GUID value before you even start the Connector install since in my case, it basically cleaned out the registry except the GUID value when re-installing.

    I use WHS as a way to get back to old versions of files, just in case.  It is definitely for the data, not the OS.  Rarely do I need it but there have been a couple times.  I generally re-install a system from scratch when I have issues, software or hardware, to keep my systems cleaned out.  That way I don't have a bunch of garbage from programs I no longer use.

     

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010 2:33 AM