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Offsite backup to USB flash drive RRS feed

  • Question

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    I have a client where I've installed WHS with PP1. I'm currently backing up the server to an external USB drive. They've only got about 4GB of data at this time.

     

    For offsite backup, I'd rather not have them transport an external USB drive back and forth to the office. I can get one or more 8GB Kingston flash drive(s) for $20, so it would be a pretty cheap solution (client is charitabe org with low budget). So my question is: can they use a USB flash drive instead? I imagine the simple answer is "yes", but if so what steps will be involved? Will they have to add/remove the drive to WHS everytime (not real techie types)?

     

    Is anyone out there doing this?

     

    Thanks.

    Sunday, August 31, 2008 5:53 PM

Answers

  • There is a minimum size for a drive to be usable by Windows Home Server. I believe it's now 10 GB for storage pool and backup drives. It's still ~80 GB for the system drive.
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Sunday, September 7, 2008 2:10 AM
    Moderator

All replies

  • Hi,

    As long as the flash drive(s) have been formatted as NTFS, (Some drives you cannot format).

    Once they are formatted, they will then need to be added to the server individually through the Console, but not added to the storage pool but designated to be used for backups.

     

    Colin

    Sunday, August 31, 2008 6:17 PM
    Moderator
  • They would be better off with a hard drive. For one thing, a flash drive is not going to deliver great write performance unless you spend a lot of money on it. (Some inexpensive flash drives are no faster than a slow CD-R.) Second, over time the backup will grow; it's likely that it will quickly outgrow any flash drive available.

    As for the configuration, if you have Power Pack 1 installed, you will connect the drive and choose to add it to the server using the console. You'll get an option to use it as a backup drive instead of server storage. Choose that. Then when you want to take the drive off-site, remove it in the console. You'll have an option to remove it temporarily; choose that. Then when reconnected it will be recognized automatically as a server backup drive.
    • Unmarked as answer by Henri Fournier Sunday, September 7, 2008 1:35 AM
    Sunday, August 31, 2008 7:57 PM
    Moderator
  • here is my alternate plan - Buy 8gb SanDisk Cruzer USB drives with U3 installed. I paid $29 for my last one  Then buy a copy of SyncBackSE, only $30 (www.2brightsparks.com).  You can try the free Syncback but then you don't get the U3 edition or try the 30 day trial of SyncbackSE to see if you like it.  Once you own SyncbackSE you get access to Syncback for U3.  In syncback you can configure the U3 edition to backup to a variable labeled something like %thisdrive% which means that it will use whatever drive letter it is dynamically assigned to.  Now configure Syncback for the data you want to take offsite and let the person who takes it offsite run it from their workstation (assuming you have one with a USB 2 connection).  Syncback only copies data that has been changed or is new so if the data is pretty static, then the backup job goes pretty quick.  I use SyncBackSE at my church to back data to a 500GB external drive and use a 5 day rolling backup.  i.e., Monday's data does not get updated / overwritten until the following Monday and Tuesday, Wed, etc  That way if a corrupted file is not found for a day or two, you still have an opportunity to go back a few more days.

    For my commercial customers with more data I use WD Passport drives with a minimum of two, but I also use Ntbackup to create a 5 day rolling back up that is kept on the server hard drive and then copied to the WD Passport.  Works great and the Passports are easy to take offsite in a purse or a briefcase.  The customers like them.

    One other reason why I use SyncbackSE is that it will retain the security settings on the backup drives if they are NTFS formatted.

    Just my 2 cents.
    Sunday, August 31, 2008 11:30 PM
  •  casadiego wrote:
    here is my alternate plan - Buy 8gb SanDisk Cruzer USB drives with U3 installed. I paid $29 for my last one  Then buy a copy of SyncBackSE, only $30 (www.2brightsparks.com).  You can try the free Syncback but then you don't get the U3 edition or try the 30 day trial of SyncbackSE to see if you like it.  Once you own SyncbackSE you get access to Syncback for U3.  In syncback you can configure the U3 edition to backup to a variable labeled something like %thisdrive% which means that it will use whatever drive letter it is dynamically assigned to.  Now configure Syncback for the data you want to take offsite and let the person who takes it offsite run it from their workstation (assuming you have one with a USB 2 connection).  Syncback only copies data that has been changed or is new so if the data is pretty static, then the backup job goes pretty quick.  I use SyncBackSE at my church to back data to a 500GB external drive and use a 5 day rolling backup.  i.e., Monday's data does not get updated / overwritten until the following Monday and Tuesday, Wed, etc  That way if a corrupted file is not found for a day or two, you still have an opportunity to go back a few more days.

    For my commercial customers with more data I use WD Passport drives with a minimum of two, but I also use Ntbackup to create a 5 day rolling back up that is kept on the server hard drive and then copied to the WD Passport.  Works great and the Passports are easy to take offsite in a purse or a briefcase.  The customers like them.


    I hope you're not using NTBackup to backup files in the network shares on WHS.  If you are, you most likely aren't getting the actual data files, but only the "tombstones" instead.

     

     casadiego wrote:
    One other reason why I use SyncbackSE is that it will retain the security settings on the backup drives if they are NTFS formatted.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Sunday, August 31, 2008 11:45 PM
    Moderator
  •  kariya21 wrote:




    I hope you're not using NTBackup to backup files in the network shares on WHS.  If you are, you most likely aren't getting the actual data files, but only the "tombstones" instead.

     





    NTBackup is used on a standard 2003 server.  At this site there is no WHS.  I just mentioned it as another use of Syncback at a site where the data store is much larger than an 8gb thumb drive.
    Monday, September 1, 2008 1:13 AM
  •  casadiego wrote:
    NTBackup is used on a standard 2003 server.  At this site there is no WHS.  I just mentioned it as another use of Syncback at a site where the data store is much larger than an 8gb thumb drive.

     

    OK.  Just so you know, NTBackup will not work with WHS due to the way it handles the files in the background.

    Monday, September 1, 2008 1:22 AM
    Moderator
  • I formatted the 8GB Kingston DataTraveler drive as NTFS using my Vista notebook. I then plugged the USB flash drive into WHS. When I RDP into the server, I can see the drive under My Computer in the removable storage category. However, when I load the Console and go to Storage, the drive does not appear, so I can't add it as a backup drive.

    So I'm guessing the WHS will not recognize removable drives and therefore using the flash drive for offsite backups won't work. Can anyone confirm or deny this assumption?
    Sunday, September 7, 2008 1:40 AM
  • There is a minimum size for a drive to be usable by Windows Home Server. I believe it's now 10 GB for storage pool and backup drives. It's still ~80 GB for the system drive.
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Sunday, September 7, 2008 2:10 AM
    Moderator
  • Is there a registry hack or something to override that limit?
    Sunday, September 7, 2008 3:56 PM
  • Not that I have seen. It's also possible that Windows Home Server will reject a flash drive entirely, though I can't think of why it would do so. In any case, I can find cheap 16 GB flash drives online for as little as $25, or 32 GB drives for under $80, so perhaps it would be worth trying a larger drive as an experiment. I don't have any handy, and don't particularly want to pay the ridiculous premium for buying locally, or I'd already have tried it and given you a definite answer. :)
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Sunday, September 7, 2008 5:42 PM
    Moderator
  • Cheapest I've found is a Corsair 16 GB Voyager at $52 (including $25 rebate) and I'd have to order it online and pay shipping. Like I said, this is for a non-profit with very small budget. And at this point, we don't even know if Flash drives are usable at all. Do you have any contacts on the WHS team that could confirm this either way?
    Monday, September 8, 2008 3:32 PM
  • Cheap USB flash drives: NewEgg is your friend.

    I'll call the team's attention to this thread.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Monday, September 8, 2008 6:42 PM
    Moderator
  • Thanks for the link.

    Any luck getting hold of the WHS team on this?
    Wednesday, September 10, 2008 3:21 PM
  • Could he not just use mesh?

    Still.....
    Grey
    Wednesday, September 10, 2008 3:53 PM
    Moderator
  • Why bother with adding removing etc to the server.  Just plug it in a desktop and copy the files to it?

    Still......
    Grey
    Wednesday, September 10, 2008 3:55 PM
    Moderator
  • Ken, were you able to reach the team on this issue?

    Grey, thanks, I'll setup a batch file on the desktop for them, so they just plug and click for now.

    However, it makes me wonder why they provided the server backup option in the first place. You can't schedule it, you have to do it manually, you have to add/remove the drive if you're going to take it offsite, it doesn't recognize flash drives. It's not very user friendly, when by comparison,  home users are buying "one button" backup drives for their desktops.
    Wednesday, September 17, 2008 9:30 PM
  • The server backup option is for "Joe Six Pack," as someone said about another feature earlier. It's simple (too simple), but not what you'd call feature rich. I have no idea if it will recognize a large flash drive or not, and no personal desire to find out, as just about everybody has too much data that needs to be taken off-site for a flash drive to be useful as a backup device. Probably the fastest way to find out is to go out and buy a 16 or 32 GB drive and give it a try. Even that's too small for the average WHS installation, though.

    As for scheduling, I use robocopy instead.

    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Wednesday, September 17, 2008 10:53 PM
    Moderator