One of the most requested features in Windows Home Server is the ability to backup the server itself. Sure, WHS is looking after all of your home computers, but who’s looking after WHS? If your home server fails – what happens to your backups? If there’s a fire, or your house is burgled your data is still at risk.
Online backup services from KeepVault and Jungle Disk allow you to backup your files to online servers, which is great but comes at a price, takes a while to upload and download and hits your bandwidth. Going forward, I’m sure we’ll all store a lot of our data up in the cloud but right now, we need a simple solution.
Windows Home Server Power Pack 1 brings new external backup capabilities to WHS, allowing you to regularly backup both your shared folders and your home computer backups to an external USB drive, which can then be safely stored offsite. Here’s how you do it:
Step 1: Add an External Hard Drive to Windows Home Server: Whilst the external hard drive won’t be a part of the storage pool, you do need to let WHS know it’s there. So we fire up the Add a Hard Drive Wizard from the Server Storage Tab. The help file gives you a little more basic information.
Step 2: Select How You Wish to Use the Hard Drive: Okay, we just need to tell WHS that this drive is for backups, rather than adding the drive to the storage pool. If you check out the linked Help file here, there’s a few things to note:
- Windows Home Server pulls its Single Instance Storage trick here again, so after your first server backup, subsequent backups only save changed files to the hard drive, saving valuable space.
- Advice is given not to backup your server frequently, as the backup database has many large files that change regularly (and therefore will fill up your drive quickly). However, no advice is given as to how regularly you should backup the server – is it a monthly thing? Quarterly? How frequent is “frequent”?
- As you’ll see from the next few steps, you can backup different folders to different drives should you wish – this allows you to manage your backups efficiently if you run out of space on one external drive.
Step 3: Choose to Format or Not Format the Hard Drive: Unlike adding a hard drive to the home server storage pool (which mandates you formatting the drive), you are given the option whether to format the hard drive or not, which gives you much greater flexibility if you need to utilise the hard drive for other purposes.
Step 4: Give the Hard Drive a Name: Okay, we now just need to name the hard drive (maybe with something more imaginative than “EXTERNAL_BACKUP” – note the handy hint to also write the name of the hard drive on the hard drive itself so you can identify it easily should you need to restore.
Step 5: Confirm What You Just Configured: You may be about to format, so WHS gives you a warning to make sure your happy with your selections.
Step 6: Preparing the Hard Drive: I chose to format the drive, so that’s the first job WHS needs to do to prepare the drive. After a short while, adding the hard drive is complete.
Step 10: Your External Drive Appears In the Server Storage Tab: Your external hard drive now appears in the list of drives in the Server Storage Tab, listed under Server Backup Hard Drives.
Step 11: Your Home Server Appears in the Computers and Backup Tab: Click on over to the Computers and Backup Tab, and you’ll see that your home server is now listed. From here we can run an external backup. Let’s take a look at it.
Step 12: Click on Your Server and Select Backup Now: Here you can configure which of your shared folders you’d like to back up to your external drive, as well as backing up the Home Computer Backup database. Simply select your drive from the dropdowns and click Backup Now. If you check the box, WHS will remember your settings.
Step 13: Click Yes to Begin Your Backup: Note that the backup can take a few hours and most importantly, that your home computer backups are suspended whilst you’re backing up your backups
Step 14: Your Backup Begins: Your backup begins and you can keep an eye on progress whilst it runs.
Step 15: Backup Complete: After a while, the external backup completes, and you can view details of your last backup in the Computers and Backup Tab.
Source:→ WGS Blog