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WHS Backup via external USB drive using multiple drives RRS feed

  • Question

  • I have been backing up my WHS shares via USB external drive for quite some time now, all goes well.  I have recently begun to copy the individual PC backups as well using the MS recommended procedure; that too goes well.  At least I think so, I have yet to actually need any of the backups.  Now to my current situation.  My original media for the USB device is a 2TB (Hitachi, formerly Fabrik) SimpleDrive.  I recently found the same drive at close-out prices, you know, too cheap to pass up.  So I bought it since I decided it is time to have off-site backups as well as the one at home.  I thought I could just simply rotate the two drives, backup to A drive the first week, then backup to B drive the next week, meanwhile always keep one drive off site.  The problem is WHS thinks both drives are the same one, so when I insert the new drive, it only backs up the difference since the last backup.  Did I screw myself by getting an identical drive?  How can I convince WHS these are in fact not the same drive?
    As always, perplexed by Windows
    Saturday, August 14, 2010 9:24 PM

Answers

  • One more reply to my own post:

    I believe the remedy to using very similar drives is to be sure to let WHS format the drive before you use it, even if it is already NTFS formatted.  My initial backups on the new drive were successful, and after the initial backup was done, WHS had no problem "remembering" which drive was which. 

    By the way, my first idea to copy the contents of the original drive to the new one, no way!  I don't really understand how the links and pointers work, but each backup appears as a folder that has the entire contents of the WHS shares.  So if you try to copy it in Windows, it appears to be way more data than the destination drive can hold; in my case with 4 months worth of weekly backups, it appears to have about 24 terrabytes of data on a 2 Terrabyte drive!  Pretty neat trick.  Anyway, just start the new drive from this point in time and go forward with it.  It appears that the only way to remove old backup files without messing up the backup file system is to use the WHS console, view backups and use the "remove" button to delete really old backups.

     


    As always, perplexed by Windows
    • Marked as answer by Ben2ku Monday, August 16, 2010 12:06 AM
    Monday, August 16, 2010 12:06 AM

All replies

  • OK, I know it is really stupid to reply to your own posts, but I just though of two scenareos that could possibly fix this issue, though I have not yet had time to try either one. 

    (I think the first option has the highest chance of success)

    First, on a computer other than the WHS, connect and wipe the contents of the new drive, then connect the "old" drive to this PC and copy the contents of the original drive to the new one, so that both are identical as to contents.  Then at this point WHS would simply update the contents of either drive that is presented, as it should, and it should not matter which drive is which.  One drive would always lag the other as far as freshness of the data, but that is to be expected when doing backups only once a week (one drive is always off site). 

    Or

    Second, plug both drives into the WHS at the same time, let it see that the two drives are in fact not the same drive and hope that will work.  Somehow I think this option has a lesser chance of success.

    I would appreciate any thoughts or experience anyone may have had with this issue of backups.

    I will post as soon as I have any answers on either of above two options after experiments.

    Thanks to all in advance.


    As always, perplexed by Windows
    Saturday, August 14, 2010 11:05 PM
  • What Windows Home Server should do (and does, when I test this scenario) is do a single full backup of the shares to each drive, then back up only changed files for future backups. Are you saying that if you start with two bare drives, your server does something different?
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Sunday, August 15, 2010 2:39 AM
    Moderator
  • Ken,

    What I ran into when I first tried to make a backup with the new drive, WHS seemed to treat the new drive as if it was the one that I had been using.  The original drive by the way is intact, I did not delete any of the old backups.  But in the interest of full disclosure and fairness to the design of the system, I admit that when I added the drive for the first time I told it to keep the files, to not format, even though it was blank.  It comes with an NTFS format already, seemed like a waste of time.  But, I think, due to the similarities of the disks, it was treated the new drive as if it was the original drive and performed only an incremental backup.  So instead of 700 plus gigs of data from WHS storage, I had just a few gigs of difference files.  Since that mistake, what I have done to see how to fix this is to add the new drive again, but this time I had it format the drive.  WHS then seemed to treat it as a different drive and start a full system backup.  I can't tell you yet if it is indeed sucessful, I am still waiting for it to finish, still have several hours to go.


    As always, perplexed by Windows
    Sunday, August 15, 2010 4:08 AM
  • One more reply to my own post:

    I believe the remedy to using very similar drives is to be sure to let WHS format the drive before you use it, even if it is already NTFS formatted.  My initial backups on the new drive were successful, and after the initial backup was done, WHS had no problem "remembering" which drive was which. 

    By the way, my first idea to copy the contents of the original drive to the new one, no way!  I don't really understand how the links and pointers work, but each backup appears as a folder that has the entire contents of the WHS shares.  So if you try to copy it in Windows, it appears to be way more data than the destination drive can hold; in my case with 4 months worth of weekly backups, it appears to have about 24 terrabytes of data on a 2 Terrabyte drive!  Pretty neat trick.  Anyway, just start the new drive from this point in time and go forward with it.  It appears that the only way to remove old backup files without messing up the backup file system is to use the WHS console, view backups and use the "remove" button to delete really old backups.

     


    As always, perplexed by Windows
    • Marked as answer by Ben2ku Monday, August 16, 2010 12:06 AM
    Monday, August 16, 2010 12:06 AM