Can I keep more than 2 recent backups? RRS feed

  • Question

  • I have set up Windows Home Server 2011 backups using the Dashboard wizard. It is working, I've done some test restores.

    When I open up the Windows Server 2008 R2 "Windows Server Backup" and view the contents of my backup destination (which is an external USB 2TB HDD) there are only 2 recent backups available. The first is an honest Full backup which corresponds to the C: system and D: data volumes on my server (about 550GB). The second Full backup is a difference file of changed files since the prior backup (about 25GB). Can I have more than two backups so I can keep a history of past changes and with any luck, find old deleted or old versions of files? My 2TB external drive apparently could hold many more iterations than two!


    Saturday, August 4, 2012 10:25 PM

All replies

  • Server backups are incremental and they continue that way until your backup disk is full and then older backups are deleted. You should be able to find changed files by choosing to restore from the appropriate backup date for the file you are looking for. That's a form of history.

    Are you saying your server has been backed up more times than two but only two backups are available?

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

    • Marked as answer by Sean Zhu - Thursday, August 9, 2012 7:31 AM
    • Unmarked as answer by Geo Perkins Tuesday, January 8, 2013 4:06 AM
    Saturday, August 4, 2012 11:18 PM
  • Phil,

    I know it has been over 5 months since I asked and you responded but I lost track of this issue due to other pressing matters. Here are what I'm seeing on my server:

    :: Only two backups are listed as available from which to do restores of the WHS2011 server.

    :: Client backups have many iterations of incremental backup points-in-time from which to do restores.

    When I look at the server properties and check backup status I see many backups and many failures.

    I can account for the failures. I only attach the external drive once a week and either manually start the backup or allow the timed schedule to initiate it. I then safely disconnect the drive and store it in a fire proof safe. So effectively I'm backing up my server about once per week (at least I thought I was) and I was hoping I kept several months' history of incremental changes.

    If I RDP onto the server's desktop, mount the external drive and look at it, I only see the latest backup, not any of those listed in the screenshot above.

     Volume in drive Y is Cavalry
     Volume Serial Number is B084-E33B

     Directory of Y:\

    03/11/2012  10:00 PM    <DIR>          WindowsImageBackup
                   0 File(s)              0 bytes
                   1 Dir(s)  1,407,189,262,336 bytes free

    Y:\>cd Wind*

     Volume in drive Y is Cavalry
     Volume Serial Number is B084-E33B

     Directory of Y:\WindowsImageBackup

    03/11/2012  10:00 PM    <DIR>          .
    03/11/2012  10:00 PM    <DIR>          ..
    12/31/2012  06:00 PM    <DIR>          HomeServer
                   0 File(s)              0 bytes
                   3 Dir(s)  1,407,189,262,336 bytes free

    Y:\WindowsImageBackup>cd Home*

     Volume in drive Y is Cavalry
     Volume Serial Number is B084-E33B

     Directory of Y:\WindowsImageBackup\HomeServer

    12/31/2012  06:00 PM    <DIR>          .
    12/31/2012  06:00 PM    <DIR>          ..
    12/31/2012  11:51 PM    <DIR>          Backup 2013-01-01 000018
    12/31/2012  11:51 PM    <DIR>          Catalog
    03/11/2012  10:00 PM                16 MediaId
    03/12/2012  12:10 AM    <DIR>          SPPMetadataCache
                   1 File(s)             16 bytes
                   5 Dir(s)  1,407,189,262,336 bytes free

    Y:\WindowsImageBackup\HomeServer>cd Back*

    Y:\WindowsImageBackup\HomeServer\Backup 2013-01-01 000018>dir
     Volume in drive Y is Cavalry
     Volume Serial Number is B084-E33B

     Directory of Y:\WindowsImageBackup\HomeServer\Backup 2013-01-01 000018

    12/31/2012  11:51 PM    <DIR>          .
    12/31/2012  11:51 PM    <DIR>          ..
    12/31/2012  11:51 PM             1,616 BackupSpecs.xml
    12/31/2012  11:51 PM             1,078 f309920e-96f0-4223-923a-45b62ebeee86_AdditionalFilesc3b9f3c7-5e52-4d5e-8b20-19adc9
    12/31/2012  11:51 PM            24,868 f309920e-96f0-4223-923a-45b62ebeee86_Components.xml
    12/31/2012  11:51 PM             5,500 f309920e-96f0-4223-923a-45b62ebeee86_RegistryExcludes.xml
    12/31/2012  11:51 PM             3,138 f309920e-96f0-4223-923a-45b62ebeee86_Writer0bada1de-01a9-4625-8278-69e735f39dd2.xm
    12/31/2012  11:51 PM             1,676 f309920e-96f0-4223-923a-45b62ebeee86_Writer2a40fd15-dfca-4aa8-a654-1f8c654603f6.xm
    12/31/2012  11:51 PM             1,450 f309920e-96f0-4223-923a-45b62ebeee86_Writer35e81631-13e1-48db-97fc-d5bc721bb18a.xm
    12/31/2012  11:51 PM             1,390 f309920e-96f0-4223-923a-45b62ebeee86_Writer368753ec-572e-4fc7-b4b9-ccd9bdc624cb.xm
    12/31/2012  11:51 PM             2,444 f309920e-96f0-4223-923a-45b62ebeee86_Writer4dc3bdd4-ab48-4d07-adb0-3bee2926fd7f.xm
    12/31/2012  11:51 PM             1,488 f309920e-96f0-4223-923a-45b62ebeee86_Writer542da469-d3e1-473c-9f4f-7847f01fc64f.xm
    12/31/2012  11:51 PM             1,630 f309920e-96f0-4223-923a-45b62ebeee86_Writer59b1f0cf-90ef-465f-9609-6ca8b2938366.xm
    12/31/2012  11:51 PM             1,960 f309920e-96f0-4223-923a-45b62ebeee86_Writer6f5b15b5-da24-4d88-b737-63063e3a1f86.xm
    12/31/2012  11:51 PM             1,628 f309920e-96f0-4223-923a-45b62ebeee86_Writer75dfb225-e2e4-4d39-9ac9-ffaff65ddf06.xm
    12/31/2012  11:51 PM             1,484 f309920e-96f0-4223-923a-45b62ebeee86_Writera6ad56c2-b509-4e6c-bb19-49d8f43532f0.xm
    12/31/2012  11:51 PM             3,844 f309920e-96f0-4223-923a-45b62ebeee86_Writerafbab4a2-367d-4d15-a586-71dbb18f8485.xm
    12/31/2012  11:51 PM             6,376 f309920e-96f0-4223-923a-45b62ebeee86_Writerbe000cbe-11fe-4426-9c58-531aa6355fc4.xm
    12/31/2012  11:51 PM             7,110 f309920e-96f0-4223-923a-45b62ebeee86_Writercd3f2362-8bef-46c7-9181-d62844cdc0b2.xm
    12/31/2012  11:51 PM             1,746 f309920e-96f0-4223-923a-45b62ebeee86_Writerd61d61c8-d73a-4eee-8cdd-f6f9786b7124.xm
    12/31/2012  11:51 PM             8,512 f309920e-96f0-4223-923a-45b62ebeee86_Writere376ebb9-f0fe-4e1a-adaa-bfbdaf3ab488.xm
    12/31/2012  11:51 PM           728,958 f309920e-96f0-4223-923a-45b62ebeee86_Writere8132975-6f93-4464-a53e-1050253ae220.xm
    12/31/2012  06:00 PM        60,835,328 ff07efc9-64ed-11e1-a2ed-806e6f6e6963.vhd
    12/31/2012  06:06 PM    23,942,892,032 ff07efca-64ed-11e1-a2ed-806e6f6e6963.vhd
    12/31/2012  11:51 PM   569,028,854,784 ff07efcb-64ed-11e1-a2ed-806e6f6e6963.vhd
                  23 File(s) 593,033,390,040 bytes
                   2 Dir(s)  1,407,189,262,336 bytes free

    Y:\WindowsImageBackup\HomeServer\Backup 2013-01-01 000018>

    Sunday, January 6, 2013 11:21 PM
  • I assume that the drive is only given a drive letter while you are investigating this problem and not during normal operation? When you reconnect the drive after the week's storage, you are not doing anything else other than letting the backups run? If you are, existing backps on the disk will be deleted and you will have the situation you are currently seeing. After a backup completes you can just disconnect the drive rather than going through a removal which might be the cause of your problem.

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

    Monday, January 7, 2013 12:14 AM
  • Thanks for the quick reply Phil.

    You have pretty much made the correct assumptions.

    1. The drive does not usually have a drive letter. I mounted it for the purposes of using a command prompt to show the file structure.

    2. When I reconnect the drive after a week's storage I do nothing other than plug it in. Sometimes I manually start a backup from the WHS2011 dashboard, but usually do nothing. The schedule kicks off the backup at 6:00pm on Sunday night. I check Monday morning for completion and then safely "eject" the USB drive and store it in the fireproof safe.

    3. I do not understand why when I plug in the USB drive WHS2011 Windows Backup is deleting the previous backups on that drive. Why doesn't it detect this was the last backup completed successfully and then proceed with an incremental backup? (Please don't just say because that's how it works...;)

    4. I have always understood that before removing a USB drive (flash or SATA) that the file system needs to be quiesced to prevent data corruption in case of write-back cache not being written to disk yet. So I always right click on the taskbar USB icon and select "Eject USB drive". When I do this I see the activity light flash on the external drive and then stop flash (about the same time a pop-up system message says "It is now safe to remove USB drive". So why wouldn't I always want to follow that procedure? Would not following that procedure somehow interrupt Windows Backup's sense that the drive should "is still connected" and therefore the next week I'd get an incremental backup instead of a delete followed by a full backup?

    Somewhere (I think it may have been SBS2011 Essentials documentation) I read that I should have 2 (or more) external drives and that I should rotate them off site (or to fireproof safe). Doing so would guarantee at least one of those backup external drives was not destroyed in a disaster. Assuming I changed the drive daily, would they always only have a full backup and therefore I'd be in the same place I am now, in other words, never getting the advantage of a fast backup only selecting incremental changes? The only way I can imagine a multiple drive rotation working would be if the backup did differential backups. Is such an option available to me? This would save me the time it takes to make the backup (and possibly time for a restore).

    Otherwise it appears that, as designed, I have to leave my external drive plugged in all the time and it is at risk to a disaster. Having both the server an the external drive destroyed in a fire or flood kind of negates the value of having a backup. At least with my current single drive rotation I have 6 out of 7 days when I'm protected from disaster. Tell me if there is a better way... Thanks!

    • Edited by Geo Perkins Tuesday, January 8, 2013 4:23 AM fix typo
    Tuesday, January 8, 2013 4:20 AM
  • You don't need to "safely eject the USB drive" - you just yank out the USB cable (once the backup process is complete, of course).

    It sounds to me as though invoking the "safe removal of the USB drive" is doing the same as using the Dashboard to "remove the drive" - i.e. telling WHS 2011 to forget all about the drive, so that the next time it's plugged in, it gets treated as a new drive, to which a full backup is made.

    Tuesday, January 8, 2013 2:49 PM
  • Geoff - I am surprised it took you so long to respond as this is one of your specialist areas!

    Geoff's advice is good. Backups are incremental as long as you follow this procedure. Two drives of course are much better than one with the second stored offsite.

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

    Tuesday, January 8, 2013 3:55 PM
  • Well guys I think the debate about whether I need to safely eject a USB drive is still out. I did a Google search and 3 out of 4 (I only looked at the top 4 article hits) say I should eject. See:





    And of course, any advice in this area must be qualified by how Windows Device Manager Policies has installed the USB drive (Quick Remove versus Better Performance). I'll need to check the Policy setting next time I plug my USB drive in.

    So as a way to cut to the underlying issue here, what if my external drive used some other technology, not USB?

    a) eSATA

    b) Firewire

    c) one of those proprietary hot swap drive bays

    Would WHS2011 be smart enough to look at the contents of the newly connected external drive, compare with last-known status, and then appropriately add an incremental or differential backup set to the drive? And is there a way to tell WHS2011 that I prefer to do that or prefer always to do full, differential, or incremental? I can see advantages to differential.

    Thanks for lending your expertise to this forum and my question!

    Tuesday, January 8, 2013 7:10 PM
  • The point is that WHS 2011 is designed to be operated solely via the Dashboard. And there is no provision in the Dashboard functions to "safely eject a USB drive". That's because WHS 2011 is based on Windows Server 2008 R2, and it's no longer considered necessary by Microsoft. The OS looks after itself.

    This is different from WHS v1, which did have a Dashboard function to eject a drive - and this was necessary because it was based on an earlier server operating system.

    What you are doing is peeking behind the curtain, and using RDP to get to the underlying functions of the OS. That's not always such a good idea. Sometimes a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing - particularly if that knowledge is no longer valid.

    Like you, I've grown up wanting to "safely eject hardware", having been around Windows since the beginning. But now I've learned to let go. I happily rotate my backup drives just by pulling them out and storing them offsite as required. No RDP, and no "safely eject hardware"

    Tuesday, January 8, 2013 7:35 PM
  • If you really want to "safely eject", shut down the Server, disconnect the drive and restart - although it's not necessary as stated by Geoff above.

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

    Tuesday, January 8, 2013 10:50 PM
  • I've been running backups as suggested in this thread (just pull the plug instead of safely eject) and have two unfortunate realities to report.

    1. WHS2011 only reports the most current backup set (that is, the last backup(s) which have run consecutively FULL, INCR1, INCR2.) Apparently if the schedule is interrupted (by pulling the USB cable after a backup completes) and the portable hard drive stored in a fire proof safe for a week, when the backup is resumed the next week, it starts over and invalidates the previous week's set. This is apparent in the restore wizard. Perhaps if I used native Windows Server 2008 R2 tools I might be able to access backup files on the portable hard drive; I have not attempt that and don't intend to.

    2. Pulling the USB without doing a safe eject apparently has resulted in a chkdsk error condition. It could be entirely coincidental of course that a file system error developed on its own. But this seems unlikely. The error alert reported by WHS2011 directed me to run the Dashboard's Check and Repair a Hard Drive utility. The wizard ends with "The file system on the Cavalry hard drive is damaged and cannot be repaired. View Support Information to help resolve this issue." In the details there is a message "Insufficient disk space to recover lost data". Which is improbable. If I mount the drive and select properties I find that the volume (2TB total) is only a little over a third used (1.27TB free). The Support Information takes me to these forums among other places.

    I also ran Hard Disk Sentinel (www.hdsentinel.com, highly recommended) which reports S.M.A.R.T. drive health. The portable hard drive is reported as "status PERFECT" (Problematic or weak sectors were not found and there are no spin up or data transfer errors).

    I'll go to the server RDP console session and reformat the portable HDD and re-run my backups.


    • Edited by Geo Perkins Tuesday, February 5, 2013 1:46 AM more info
    Tuesday, February 5, 2013 12:31 AM