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Long pause between backups RRS feed

  • Question

  • I use Windows Home Server to back up multiple (currently nine) computers.  Each computer is backed up in a matter of minutes on most days, but I notice that there is often a long pause between backing up one computer, and starting the backup job on the next computer.  (On any given day, in a 6 - 8 hour window, not all computers are backed up...typically only 4 - 5 computers are backed up.  Backups take a short time...the pause between backups is very long.)

    Is there some way I can shorten this pause?

    I have read that with the current version of WHS backup software, home computers initiate the backup process as a hidden scheduled task.  I've looked at the folder for scheduled tasks on my home computers...and selected the option to show hidden tasks.  No backup task is shown on any home computer.  (I run Windows XP Home.)

    My ultimate goal is to reduce the pause/wait between backups of multiple computers.  But perhaps I need even more basic help in Troubleshooting 101:

    - I have Windows Auto Update enabled on the server, and it appears I have current WHS Backup software...but how can I verify that I have the right version/build? (that uses this feature of hidden scheduled tasks on the home computers)

    - why can't I find any hidden scheduled tasks on my home computers for the backup process?

    - can I manually make hidden scheduled tasks on my home computers so that the backups are attempted more frequently?

    - am I asking the right questions?

    Thanks in advance.

    -- 
    -------------------------------------------
    Tom Krajci
    Cloudcroft, New Mexico
    http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci

    Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
    http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico

    American Association of Variable Star
    Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
    -------------------------------------------
    Tuesday, October 12, 2010 3:13 PM

All replies

  • It's stored in client registry (HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Home Server\Backup\NextBackupTime, however it's reg qword so not easy not to modify.
    Tuesday, October 12, 2010 3:53 PM
    Moderator
  • It's stored in client registry (HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Home Server\Backup\NextBackupTime, however it's reg qword so not easy not to modify.

    Thank you for the info!

    I found:  http://support.microsoft.com/kb/256986

    "Qword:  Data represented by a number that is a 64-bit integer. This data is displayed in Registry Editor as a Binary Value..."

    Hmmm, but how is the time represented in this 64-bit format?  (As seconds elapsed since midnight 1 Jan, 1900?...or something like that?)

    Is it possible to write a script that will modify this date value?  Has someone done something similar that I could look at?  (I'm a lousy script writer...but if I see an example, I can sometimes modify it to fit my needs.)

    Thanks in advance.

    -- 
    -------------------------------------------
    Tom Krajci
    Cloudcroft, New Mexico
    http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci

    Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
    http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico

    American Association of Variable Star
    Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
    -------------------------------------------
    Tuesday, October 12, 2010 4:18 PM
  • Are all of your computers on during the backup window? If not, are they all in standby/hibernation, and configured to allow the connector to wake the computer for backup?
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Tuesday, October 12, 2010 4:40 PM
    Moderator
  • Are all of your computers on during the backup window? If not, are they all in standby/hibernation, and configured to allow the connector to wake the computer for backup?

    Most of the computers are on during the backup window...but it varies.  It could be all of them, it could be very few of them.

    I also shut down the server every afternoon (after the backup window ends).  I do this for two reasons:

    - I live in a rural/mountainous area...frequent power outages (yes, I have UPS's on everything)

    - Summer thunder storm season is bad news for computers!

    Therefore I want to use the server 'guerilla' style...power it up...make backups promptly...shut down the server.  Repeat the next morning.  This minimizes risk.

    When I shut down the various computers...they are out cold.  During thunderstorm season...as storms build in the afternoon...I even pull all plugs (and data cables) from the wall outlets to minimize risk to lightning damage.

    Given the way I run things here...can I still reduce the long pause between backups?

    Thanks in advance.

    -- 
    -------------------------------------------
    Tom Krajci
    Cloudcroft, New Mexico
    http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci

    Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
    http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico

    American Association of Variable Star
    Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
    -------------------------------------------

     

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010 8:35 PM
  • For reading the date please have a look at Dcode

    For converting UTC date to Win 64 bit hex value have a look at DATECONV, instructions for use overhere.

    If you search the web there's likely more tools that can do this conversion. If you find a convenient one please post overhere.

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010 8:11 AM
    Moderator
  • For reading the date please have a look at Dcode

    For converting UTC date to Win 64 bit hex value have a look at DATECONV , instructions for use overhere .

    If you search the web there's likely more tools that can do this conversion. If you find a convenient one please post overhere.

    Thanks for the links to those resources!

    OK, one computer had a QWord value of  6D C3 E8 41 E1 6A CB 01   which is a date/time for this morning (13 Oct, 2010).

    If I were to find a way to keep writing that QWord value to the registry of every computer here (do it today, tomorrow, and the next day...) it'll be an old/past date every time I go through a back up cycle.

    Will that queue up the tasks for the server to promply back up all computers...or will it cause problems because the value for NextBackupTime is too old?

    Or is there a better solution?  (I presume WHS is writing the value of NextBackupTime to each computer's registry?  If so...can I change how WHS determines that date?)

    Thanks in advance.
    -- 
    -------------------------------------------
    Tom Krajci
    Cloudcroft, New Mexico
    http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci

    Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA)
    http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico

    American Association of Variable Star
    Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/
    -------------------------------------------
    Wednesday, October 13, 2010 3:07 PM
  • Tom, Windows Home Server isn't designed to allow end users detailed control over the time at which a computer backs up. As such, fiddling with the mechanisms that are used internally to control backups isn't really a good idea; there's no guarantee that it will work exactly as you expect, or that it will not interfere with other Windows Home Server functionality, and there's also no guarantee that you'll be able to move your solution to a new version such as Vail, or even to a future update (Microsoft could change the functionality in this area).

    Your options are somewhat limited. You can leave things alone; computers should back up if they're turned on before the backup window and not turned off until after a backup completes. This is the only supported option; if it's important that all computers get backed up quickly you could reduce the size of the window to perhaps 2-3 hours. If your computers each back up relatively quickly (a few minutes) that should be adequate to get all backups completed. This would be my recommendation.

    Another (unsupported) option is to create a scheduled task on each client computer which will run the backup tool on the client at a time of your choosing. This will work for the current version of Windows Home Server, but is already known not to work in the next version (Vail).

    You could attempt to modify that value Brubber has mentioned. Again, this is unsupported. If you decide to go this route, you should set the value appropriately each day, not rely on using the same value day after day. Also, since this information is not documented and supported by Microsoft, it's very possible that it will change in some fashion in the future.

    A final consideration is that Windows Home Server does other internal maintenance while it's running. If you only turn your server on for a couple of hours a day, that maintenance will impact backups, because the only time it can be performed is during the backup window. I can't tell you specifically what the impact will be, I'm afraid, because it depends on your specific data and usage patterns.


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Wednesday, October 13, 2010 3:50 PM
    Moderator
  • ...Your options are somewhat limited. You can leave things alone; computers should back up if they're turned on before the backup window and not turned off until after a backup completes. This is the only supported option; if it's important that all computers get backed up quickly you could reduce the size of the window to perhaps 2-3 hours. If your computers each back up relatively quickly (a few minutes) that should be adequate to get all backups completed. This would be my recommendation.

    Another (unsupported) option is to create a scheduled task on each client computer which will run the backup tool on the client at a time of your choosing. This will work for the current version of Windows Home Server, but is already known not to work in the next version (Vail)....

    Thank you for all the info and discussion.

    I have tried altering the backup window length...longer, shorter...does not seem to improve things much...and it certainly does not get all computers backed up.  (It also does not seem very 'smart'...it won't look first at the computer that's been without back up for 5 days...it'll randomly choose the computer that is without back up for 2 days.  Go figure.)

    I'll try the least-risky method first - create a scheduled task on each client. (I'll deal with the fact that future versions may require me to change my methods.)

    I know how to use the scheduled task wizard to add a new task...but what is the program/exe file I need to invoke to start this backup?  (The default list I can scroll through shows WHS Console, and WHS...but not something specifically called WHS Backup.  Is the program residing on the server?)

    Thanks in advance.


    -- ------------------------------------------- Tom Krajci Cloudcroft, New Mexico http://picasaweb.google.com/tom.krajci Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA) http://cbastro.org/ CBA New Mexico American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO): KTC http://www.aavso.org/ -------------------------------------------
    Wednesday, October 13, 2010 4:17 PM
  • On each client, you will need to run

    C:\Program Files\Windows Home Server\backupengine.exe -a

    Again, this isn't supported, and is known not to work in Vail (which uses a different method for running backups).


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Wednesday, October 13, 2010 5:02 PM
    Moderator
  • If I had to do this I would set exactly the same value in the registry key of each client PC manually, export the key and create scheduled task which will update registry with this value some time after finishing of the backup window and / or at boot. Expected behaviour is that one system will start a backup, other systems will then automatically be queued until the first backup is finished. This will definitely result in the shortest backup window.
    Thursday, October 14, 2010 10:15 AM
    Moderator
  • Another possible work-around: start backups manually, at least once in
    a while for computers that haven't been backed up automatically.

    On Wed, 13 Oct 2010 15:50:54 +0000, Ken Warren [MVP] wrote:

    Tom, Windows Home Server isn't designed to allow end users detailed control over the time at which a computer backs up. As such, fiddling with the mechanisms that are used internally to control backups isn't really a good idea; there's no guarantee that it will work exactly as you expect, or that it will not interfere with other Windows Home Server functionality, and there's also no guarantee that you'll be able to move your solution to a new version such as Vail, or even to a future update (Microsoft could change the functionality in this area).

    Your options are somewhat limited. You can leave things alone; computers should back up if they're turned on before the backup window and not turned off until after a backup completes. This is the only supported option; if it's important that all computers get backed up quickly you could reduce the size of the window to perhaps 2-3 hours. If your computers each back up relatively quickly (a few minutes) that should be adequate to get all backups completed. This would be my recommendation.

    Another (unsupported) option is to create a scheduled task on each client computer which will run the backup tool on the client at a time of your choosing. This will work for the current version of Windows Home Server, but is already known not to work in the next version (Vail).

    You could attempt to modify that value Brubber has mentioned. Again, this is unsupported. If you decide to go this route, you should set the value appropriately each day,*not* rely on using the same value day after day. Also, since this information is not documented and supported by Microsoft, it's very possible that it will change in some fashion in the future.

    A final consideration is that Windows Home Server does other internal maintenance while it's running. If you only turn your server on for a couple of hours a day, that maintenance*will* impact backups, because the only time it can be performed is during the backup window. I can't tell you specifically what the impact will be, I'm afraid, because it depends on your specific data and usage patterns.

    Thursday, October 14, 2010 9:34 PM