How to Backup my WHS?
January 1, 2013 8:54 AM   Subscribe

What software should I be using to backup my WHS 2011?

Here's a quick run down of the configuration.

I have an HP ProLiant Ultra Micro Tower MicroServer with a 230GB disk broken into a 60GB OS partition and the remainder used for file shares, also a 1 TB disk used for file shares and a 2 TB disk used for file shares.
In addition I have (4) external USB drives that are 2 TB each.

Built in backup is apparently a useless piece of crap because it can only backup a max of 2TB of data. So I need a third party backup application that will work with Windows Home Server 2011 and will allow me to use the backup scheme laid out below.

I want to plug two drives in (A set) and do a full backup on Sunday, then an incremental backup on Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat.
On Sunday I unplug the two disks (A set) and send them off site and plug in the other two (B set) and run a full back up on Sun, etc...
At the end of the week swap A and B sets again.

I'm sure I could do this with BackupExec, but I don't have $1000+ to drop on this. I'm willing to look at software up to maybe $200 if that's what it takes. I've tried HandyBackup and that doesn't seem to do what I want, or if it does it's just not obvious how to make it do it. Someone on WeGotServed recommended CrashPlan but it's configuration seemed like a total mess and wouldn't let me setup what I want to do.

If there is a better backup scheme I'd be willing to try someting else.
posted by MrBobaFett to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
I want to plug two drives in (A set) and (massively complex backup scheme)

If there is a better backup scheme I'd be willing to try someting else. (sic)

These are contradictory goals. So are you willing to do something else? Or are you completely and irrevocably mated to your backup scheme? Because the challenge isn't backing up your data, the challenge is you're insisting on doing it in a really complex way for reasons that are unclear (maybe you can clarify).

Frankly, I'd just back everything up online with Crashplan and ditch your complicated scheme when the backup is complete. Unlimited Crashplan for a single computer is $5 / month (less if you buy several months at once). You get a free month to test-drive it. The beauty of it is: once you do your initial upload, from then on it only backs up any changed files. Sure, the initial backup takes a while, but then it just does small backups of the changed files.

I'm unclear on exactly how much data you have, but at a modest 5 Mbps upload backing up 1 TB takes about 20 days. So by the time your free trial is up, you can have 1.5 TB backed up. It takes no thought on your part, just choosing which folders to back up, and then you're done.
posted by Tehhund at 4:38 PM on January 1, 2013

No I'm not going to do an online backup since I have 3.5TB of data to backup. I've already bought the HD's and don't want to wait several months to do my initial backup. How is this backup scheme complex? Other than the stupid bit about having to use (2)2TB drives for each set instead of a singe 4TB drive. That is a stupid limit of WHS2011. Otherwise it's a pretty straight forward backup scheme.
You rotate two sets to make sure you always have an offsite backup. On-site is most recent and can save me in case of HD failure, off-site saves me if my house burns down.
posted by MrBobaFett at 9:22 AM on January 2, 2013

From my point of view, the problem with your backup scheme isn't just complexity, it is efficacy:

1) Your protection against burglary or the house burning down requires that you move a bunch of atoms off site every week.
2) You end up moving a bunch of atoms and bits every week, even though, I'd wager, the majority of those bits do not change in a given week, and, most likely, won't ever change, unless there is small scale data corruption.
3) Your scheme doesn't really protect you from corruption, unless you notice it within your two week retention window.
4) You don't know how to implement it yet. Yes, I know this is why you posted here, but people who actually know enough about backup software to answer your question aren't going to have an answer because they wouldn't make the choices you are making.

Give Crashplan another look. Even without using its network backup features, I think it can do more or less what you want. It's UI could be a little better, but honestly, I've never used commercial backup software that can both do what you want to use, and provides a dead-simple interface.

I think the way to get Crashplan to do what you want is:

Rather than using the default of having a single backup set, go into the backup area in the settings and click to enable backup sets. Create backup sets to cover all the files you want to back up. When backing up a given set, the backup can't span multiple drives (unless you use the OS to create a large filesystem out of two drives), so you need to make sure the data in each backup set + the expected volume of changes over your retention period are less than the capacity of your backup disks. Leave yourself some padding, and build in some room for growth if you expect to expand things.

Once you've created backup sets, attach all the drives and designate each of them as a backup destination. Configure each backup set to backup to two drives (one drive from each of your pairs). Let the backups run to completion so that both sets have upto date backups. Detatch one set from your server and move them offsite. In a week, switch it with the other set. Crashplan will backup to whatever locations it has access to. When you reconnect a drive, it will backup any files added or changed since the last time the drive was connected.

Conceptually, Crashplan doesn't really work with the idea of full vs incremental backups. It automatically does a full backup to a backup destination and then continuously watches for changes. When it detects a change, it will analyze the file to determine which portions of the file changed and write a new incremental record of just those changes. It detects changes by using the operating systems native file-change notification system, coupled with scheduled full scans. At a somewhat longer interval it will reread the full data of every file and check it against the backup version. Almost all of these behaviors can be configured, but the default settings are pretty good for most purposes.
posted by Good Brain at 4:57 PM on January 2, 2013 [2 favorites]

1) yes that seems like the only practical way to get an offsite copy since I just have a normal home cable modem setup with usage caps.

2) True, it would be great if I could dump the full backup every week.

3) What method would protect from corruption? How much of a problem is corruption as compared to HD failure?

4) What choices would they be making? Up until recently we backed up the server at work with a similar scheme but it was just a batch file using xcopy on 3 rotating 3TB HDs. WIth the new Exchange server we switched to using BackupExec and are backing up to a NAS onsite and an offsite NAS over a VPN bridge. But I can't afford any of those for home.

I'll play with Crashplan again tonight.
posted by MrBobaFett at 10:54 AM on January 3, 2013

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