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Remote Backup for distant family. RRS feed

  • Question

  • The idea is this.  I just graduated college and am living on my own.  I'm the computer support for my whole family.  I have like 3 computers, my sister is in college and has 1 computer, my mom and dad are in another state and share 1 computer.

    I would like to be able to automatically backup office documents, e-mail, and pictures using WHS for my family that doesn't live in my house.  I recognize that music and video backup would be too much to do over a standard broadband connection, but the smaller files wouldn't and would be infinitely valuable.

    There are a lot of families in my position.  There are not enough computers at each members individual location but as a whole they need a backup solution.

    Please seriously consider this, it would justify a purchase of this software on day 1 for me without a doubt.
    Tuesday, February 13, 2007 2:14 AM

Answers

  •  DustinEarnhardt wrote:
    I couldn't agree more. This sounds like a fantastic idea.

    Yes, with the understanding that even with broadband connections at both ends, it's potentially going to take days to do the initial backup of the remote computer.

    I've suggested this on Connect.
    Wednesday, February 28, 2007 3:56 AM
    Moderator

All replies

  • I agree with this completely.  I too happened into the job of family PC tech, and this would be a life saver.  It would make things a lot simpler, and put some people's minds at ease.  Agreed that video and music would be a bit much, but they can be re-added from the CDs and DVDs you have.  Images, documents, email, etc cannot, since the original media is the computer itself.
    Tuesday, February 13, 2007 3:13 AM
  • Being a family IT support person, the remote backup would definitely be nice to have. I realize there is a limitation to the amount of data that could be sent over the Internet. Might a possibility be to do a full backup with WHS connected locally and then only backup changed files remotely?

    It would be great if this made the 1.0 release but I think it might be something that has to wait to 2.0 or later...
    Tuesday, February 13, 2007 3:29 AM
  • I see WHS's usage is slightly different for remote backup for distant family. THOUGH, a similar add-on server for WHS like Carbonite would be great for distant family members, where it will automatically backup files to a designated WHS server on the Internet and only feed the changes in the backup 24/7 or whenever the Internet connection is available.

    I use Carbonite, and suggest this similar feature be available on WHS for remote backup.

    Tuesday, February 13, 2007 10:39 AM
  • You could set this up using a VPN - then the remote PCs would look like they are on your local network...
    Tuesday, February 13, 2007 6:28 PM
  • Definitely agree with the original poster.  I am constantly doing support for all of my family members.  One of the biggest hastles is support and file sharing.  Windows Vista, hopefully, has resolved a lot of the remote support hastles, however, having a central WHS that all family members can store their pictures, documents and videos then be accessible by other family members would be extremely beneficial.  I know there already was to do this in some for or another, however, looking at WHS it could defintely make the whole process a lot easier. (ie. Less training and support time).

    Example, we have a cottage in Canada and a home in Panama.  It would be nice to not have to think about where to store documents, pictures or videos.  Just have them stored on one WHS and have these same files accessible in either location.  Bandwidth is always an issue, but if the WHS allows it then the incentive to get fast connections would just increase. 

    Tuesday, February 13, 2007 10:31 PM
  • Remote backup is something that I think should and will be supported, but probably not in v1.  The two use cases that are obvious to me: family members living abroad, and mobile PC users online abroad.  People in both of these situations will want their files backed up over the internet. 

    Obviously there is a bandwidth issue that keeps you from backing up HD home video today.  But bandwidth is increasing over time, and the size of a college philosophy paper is not.  People abroad will want to backup a certain selection of files, bandwidth permitting.  Version 2, here we come?!
    Tuesday, February 20, 2007 5:28 AM
  • Yes, it's possible and I am using it right now with my family PC. The Home server is on my brother house at 400Km from my computer. I am using Hamachi to set the VPN.

    The problem is that with my 100KB/s upload, it's quite long to do a backup of my computer ... (It's a 8,6KB/day upload ... to backup my 40GB HDD it would take 4 to 5 full day )
    Tuesday, February 20, 2007 8:53 AM
  • Remote backup is a great idea. An interface to connect to those computers would also be great. I troubleshoot boxes on an almost weekly basis using the remote assistance feature. If I could store a "clean" image and then just backup data. Most of the people I help fall into two categories. One, they don't install software very often but do need a place to store files that change on a daily basis or two, they install software every minute of every day and wish they could get back to a point where their box was bogged down and probably infected.

    Tuesday, February 20, 2007 8:37 PM
  • I have started setting up a family VPN setup with Hamachi, which works pretty well for remote management.  I have run into two issues though.
    1.  Most of my family uses an aDSL connection which limits upload rates.
    2.  Initial backups are huge.

    It would be great if we could use a portable hard drive to create the initial image and somehow import it into WHS to use as the baseline for the backups.  Though I'm not sure what could be done when a system crashes and needs to be restored. . .  any suggestions on how they could implement this?

    I don't think the incrementals would be a big problem, because like someone else mentioned in this thread; people don't install apps every day.  Usually it is just a few documents, settings files, and temp files that get changed.

    Friday, February 23, 2007 10:33 PM
  • That's a great idea, highly supported. And with the 10 user limit, Microsoft doesn't have to worry that one guy is going to buy a single WHS and then use it for his entire family and circle of friends.
    Monday, February 26, 2007 10:57 AM
  • I couldn't agree more.  This sounds like a fantastic idea.
    Wednesday, February 28, 2007 3:08 AM
  •  DustinEarnhardt wrote:
    I couldn't agree more. This sounds like a fantastic idea.

    Yes, with the understanding that even with broadband connections at both ends, it's potentially going to take days to do the initial backup of the remote computer.

    I've suggested this on Connect.
    Wednesday, February 28, 2007 3:56 AM
    Moderator
  • I use Foldershare to backup photo's and docs etc from my parents / sisters PC's back to my home - this has worked extremel well for about 18 months now and I now have the added bonus that I can then back them up to whs.

    The ability to give them a login to access them remotely direct from my WHS would be excellent. I guess I could do this with SyncToy to keep the foldershare library on my PC in sync with WHS shares - but it's more duplication - and not 100% easy.....

    I'd agree with a number of others in this thread - Carbonite integration / support would be an EXCELLENT addition to WHS - but Carbonite doesn't support removable drives - so my external firewire drives in whs are no good either ........ maybe it could be "built-in" to WHS - some way of "hiding" the fact that a drive is removable - now that'd be cool.... then just make Carbonite "supported" and you're away - uber belt and braces solution for your backups.

    Just my $0.02

    Jack

    Friday, March 2, 2007 12:00 PM
  • Let me pile on for this one. I use a VNC product to support my elderly parents machines. The ability to have backups take place remotely would give me piece of mind.
    Sunday, March 4, 2007 2:19 AM
  • Oh yes!

    To add to the comments. I often work away from home. It would be fantastic to know I could still perform regular backups even when in a hotel room!
    Sunday, March 4, 2007 5:00 PM
  •  CoryB wrote:
    Being a family IT support person, the remote backup would definitely be nice to have. I realize there is a limitation to the amount of data that could be sent over the Internet. Might a possibility be to do a full backup with WHS connected locally and then only backup changed files remotely?

    It would be great if this made the 1.0 release but I think it might be something that has to wait to 2.0 or later...

    Agreed 100%, doing it locally then remotely later sounds like the best shot. Since this is by cluster doing a check for changes shouldn't eat much bandwidth however it could interfere with local backups happening in a timely manner.

    Sunday, March 4, 2007 9:28 PM
  • I've actually been working on this type of thing. I currently have my WHS set up so my parents computer can VPN in. I am able to get to all the shares (\\Server\), but I have been unable to get the Connector software to find the WHS. I'd like to give it a shot and see if I could run a backup overnight...

    Has anyone else had any luck with the Connector software and a VPN?

    D

    Tuesday, March 6, 2007 11:41 PM
  • I tried to get a software VPN working with the WHS connector for a little while, but then found a post in the forums about how WHS will only support one NIC. 

    http://forums.microsoft.com/WindowsHomeServer/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=1214370&SiteID=50

     I'm guessing that it also includes virtual networks.

    The only way I can think of to get around this is some sort of external VPN, like a VPN endpoint router or possible another box bridging the VPN.

    Wednesday, March 7, 2007 3:14 AM
  • Yeah, I initially had problems when I had 2 NICs going. When I ran the "Routing and Remote Access" wizard, it said I needed 2 NICs, so I installed one I had laying around. I ran the wizard again, and got the VPN Server running, but couldn't see or access any of the resources once I connected from a remote client. I ended up deleting the server configuration, disabling the second NIC in device manager, and then running the configuration wizard again. It ran just fine, but still referenced the disabled NIC. I just made sure to select the proper LAN Connection (the one with the enabled NIC) as I went through the wizard. After that I was able to connect with a remote client and get to all the resources on the server.

    I think the wizard wants 2 NICs for the Router setup, but it's not required for the VPN setup. You just need 2 to appease the Routing and Remote Access "wizard".

    The only problem now is that the Connector software dies and gives me a "Unknown Network Error".

    Wednesday, March 7, 2007 5:19 AM
  • I would guess that many people in this program are the designated IT guy for their family and this would provide a great value to those people. I also believe that this could solve another problem offsite redundancy. A whs machine at my house and say my brothers house would allow us both to keep our backups safely off site. I would still want my local backup but also a remote backup in case of a fire or something. I think having the functionality of 2 whs machines remotely connected and able to back each other up would also be helpfull.
    Wednesday, March 7, 2007 7:13 AM
  •  UltimateHTE wrote:

    Example, we have a cottage in Canada and a home in Panama.  It would be nice to not have to think about where to store documents, pictures or videos.  Just have them stored on one WHS and have these same files accessible in either location.  Bandwidth is always an issue, but if the WHS allows it then the incentive to get fast connections would just increase. 

    WHS does allow this - set up the remote access part and you can access your files over a web browser.  You can even upload files to it, I did that this morning.  Very handy!

    Remote backup would be great, though.  My mother in law would probably appreciate that option.  Good call on Hamachi, I'll give that a try once she gets broadband back up.

    Wednesday, March 14, 2007 2:51 PM
  • Please excuse the sarcasm, but the thought of backing up gigabytes over megabit connections is just silly. You would be better off, from a cost-effective standpoint at least, by installing a second hard drive into the remote system and setting up an automated backup regimen to this drive. Then remote access the distant system when necessary to perform system restores or to pull backups from the spare drive for file restoration purposes.
    Sunday, March 25, 2007 7:33 AM
  • Well, the initial backup would take forever if you attempted to do it remotly, but most people have had the idea to due the first backup locally and then have subsequent backups over the internet.  the newer backups wouldn't take as much bandwidth as the first one because most things are already backed up, WHS just needs to save the changed data.
    Monday, March 26, 2007 3:17 PM
  • Actually, in theory it shouldn't be gigabytes of data. The point of WHS is to centralize the storage of files considered to be data so if all of the users' data (media, documents, software installers) are located on WHS and not the local filesystem then that's info not being pushed across the wire. WHS also only stores one copy of a file so if I'm backing up 10 computers and they all use the same OS then the 10 images should be relatively similar. As a proof-of-concept I've been backing up a computer located on another physical network and the times have been acceptable.
    Wednesday, March 28, 2007 3:36 PM