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Backing Up Windows Home Server

So, I haven't really been paying attention. NTBackup does not work for backing up a WHS. I mean, we've got it backing up our PCs, and that's fine. But what about the server? Vlad Mazek talked about this a bit on his blog a while back. I've already got the remote critical data backups covered, but as I mentioned before, I'm lazy and I don't want to rebuild everything from scratch if my WHS dies. Would ShadowProtect or some other image based software help us here? Its a solid maybe - WHS makes use of logical volumes and the bastard step-child of software mirroring. Maybe it wouldn't matter if you restored the entire image to one large drive. I might need to try that.

Anyway here's how I discovered this - I was futzing with the WHS web server files today as I migrated my websites from a virtualized Linux box over to IIS on the home server. I modified a silly .html file, saved too quickly, and then decided I wanted the original back. So I went to grab an old version out of my latest NTbackup. As I attempted to index the .bkf file and restore the document I wanted, I'm greeted by the above. So no love there. Really, all I want is for the semi-important stuff to be "off-box", ideally a local image, since my really critical stuff is already off-site using a remote backup service. At this point it doesn't look likely that we can replicate the PC backups off the box, but I'm not too worried about those either.

So until something better comes along, you can actually still use NTBackup if you want, you just can't back up the fancy logical volume in WHS (which makes up most of the D: drive). What you can back up is C:\, SystemState, and then your WHS shares over the network (i.e. you would add \\ server\users) to your backup selections. Could you do a bare-metal restore from this? Ehm, probably not. But's it's something I'd try, and maybe some day I will. In the meantime, it allows you to use a familiar, reliable backup tool to offload important and critical files to another device or elsewhere on your home network.

So is this enough? If your critical data is covered, then yeah, I think so. You could avoid ALL of the issues above I suppose and run WHS inside Virtual Server or Hyper-V, but then I think you lose one really nice thing that WHS lets you do - use cobbled-together hardware you already had laying around the house. The way the logical volume system works, its designed for that, with disk drives that WILL fail in mind. I've had two drives fail in mine in the last year, and in both cases the process to replace them was pretty painless. Your mileage will definitely vary.

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