Windows Home Server Team Blog

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Home Computer Backup

Home Computer Backup

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Windows Home Server will automatically back up your home computers to your home server and allow you to easily restore the entire computer or an individual file or folder to a previous point in time. The Windows Home Server Backup solution uses an innovative system to back up only the data that has not already been backed up before.  Even if you have several copies of the same data on different computers, the data is backed up only once on your home server and your home server keeps track of what data was stored on each home computer on each day.  This makes it very efficient in terms of the time it takes for backups to complete and also the amount of space that is used on your home server.

  • Automated Daily Backup of your Home Computers

Computer backups are automatically configured when you install the Windows Home Server Connector software on your computers. Backup is performed automatically on a daily basis for every configured computer. Normally there is no need to change any settings. If you want to change settings for a home computer you do it through the Windows Home Server Console application by Configuring the Backup of a computer to exclude certain hard drives or folders on a given hard drive (e.g. Recorded TV folder on a Vista Home Premium computer).

  • Restore an Entire Home Computer

Restoring a home computer to a previous point in time is easy. If you want to restore your computer to a previous point in time, you would boot the home computer from the Home Computer Restore CD.  The computer will connect to your home server and provide a simple wizard for restoring a single hard drive or multiple hard drives from a backup of that computer that is stored on your home server.

  • Restore Individual Files and Folders

You can also restore individual files or folders by selecting a home computer and a specific backup of that computer from the Windows Home Server Console application.  A Windows Explorer window will be displayed with all of the files and folders that were backed up for that computer on that day.  You can easily drag and drop individual files or entire folders from this Windows Explorer window and store them on your Windows Desktop or any other location on your home computer.


I have been running Windows Home Server in my house for some time now.  The sum total of all of the used disk space in my house is close to 400 GB  across my 3 PCs.  And, I have multiple backups for these 3 PCs so that I can restore any PC to yesterday, last week, last month or the day of the first backup created by Windows Home Server.  The sum total of disk space used for all of these backups on my home server is 186 GB, as there is a lot of similar stuff across these 3 PCs.   Magic?  or just some great software solving the home computer backup problem one household at a time.


The Windows Home Server initiates the backups of your home computers every night, by default it starts backing up your PCs shortly after midnight (this time is configuable).  If one of your PCs in plugged in but in sleep mode, the home server will 'wake it up', back it up, and then let it go back to sleep.  If it is only on battery power, we will choose to not backup that PC. We don't plan on trying to wake up machines that are powered off, while it is possible in some cases, it is not 100% reliable and it will be hard for consumers to figure out how to configure their PC for these capabilities.




  • Will the backup/restore feature allow a user to upgrade a hard drive or PC and "restore" the old data/config to the new system?

    People would love something like that. But to do it really right requires backing up apps and system state.

  • Yeah that feature would be great addition, I'ld love to test this Home Server stuff out, sounds like the perfect solution for the family IT guru.

  • Thanks guys for having this blog set up. Please keep the post coming OFTEN!

    I'm curious about the WHS (Windows Home Server) software. Here are a few of my questions:

    1 - Can the WHS run other software like a normal windows pc? Ex. I want to run Hamachi for my personal VPN.

    2 - Will the WHS need to have its own anti-virus / firewall software for protection?

    3 - Will it need to download its own windows-updates?

    4 & 5 - Will the windows media-connect from the WHS be expanded to stream media to Media Center Extenders? Can this be an optional download / upgrade for the WHS (a powertoy perhaps)?

    6 - Are the printer drivers for the WHS the same as for XP or are the drivers already part of the WHS OS?

    7 - What other peripherals are allowed to be attached to the WHS (ex. scanners, external fax modems, external CD/DVD/JAZZ/ZIP Drives)?

    8 - Are PVR capabilities being planned for the WHS?

    Sorry for so many questions? I found that there is hardly any details on the web. If there is a white-paper / documentation that has the answers to these questions, please let me know where to find it.

  • The remote access functionality in WHS sounds great.

    One question?  How much will the hardware version of Windows Home Server Cost on average?  My wifes Uncle would probably love this stuff, as would I.

    Man this stuff sounds good :-)!

  • Why no Wake-on-LAN support? New machines usually ship with Wake-on-LAN enabled, and i seriously doubt that most people will want to have their PCs in a constant standby mode.

    Especially most home users, not working in the IT and similar people where Home Server is aimed at are very sensitive to oecological problems. They don't like wasted power.

    Maybe in the USA this is a bit different, but in Europe you won't get many people which won't power down their machine completely.

    Please, add support for Wake-On-LAN. Otherwise, there will be lot's of headaches with this.

  • #lukasbeeler

    I agree! From the first time, I heard of WHS, I have been wondering if it's normal to leave computers on all night? Personally, I don't know anybody who doesn't power down at the end of the day.

    WOL would indeed be an option.

  • Our home PCs are certainly not switched on 24*7.  I don't think it's a sensible assumption for the home market, especially due to (1) environmental concerns and (2) electricity costs.  WOL really does need to be supported.

  • The ability for it to recognise that the computer was off and perform the backup during idle time in the day would be sensible, no? Is this something that is planned?

    I know this would be a deal breaker for me as at home my Dad will not leave things on over night so the backups I try to set up on his computer invariably never happen.

    Saying that he would probably just turn off the home server itself but I don't expect you guys to fix that :-)

  • WOL is not reliable at all. I work in a large enterprise environment (15,000 PCs) and we attempted to script WOL to bring up a batch of PCs. We couldn't even get one to wake up reliably and consistently. Certain conditions have to exist like the PC being shut down properly. If those conditions are met, then it might work, or might not.

    So I can see why they would avoid this. Now what they could do is develop a better protocol for WOL with the NIC vendors. :)


  • ..continue WOL discussion.  TowerDave, I think improving WOL is a great idea but it doesn't really address the hardware already in consumers homes.

    Perhaps there should be an option to either put the computer to sleep or shutdown after the backup has completed.  Another option should be for those who always shutdown their computer, is to have a quick/easy way to initiate the backup process when they are finished working on their computer.  Again, when backup is finished it could do the shutdown automatically for them.

  • one more idea..again for those who shutdown their PCs.

    Maybe during the shutdown process the system could prompt the user if a backup should/shouldn't be performed.  And if they choose to backup, they still can walk away with confidence that after the backup the system will be shutdown.

  • I'm also very interested in how this works with the different sleep modes. I can't remember the distinctions right now, but I know they are things like S1, S3, etc. Which modes will the nightly backup work in?

    I usually put my machines into Hibernate to save power. Is this also going to work, or only Sleep.

    This seems like a pretty big issue to me, as I agree with other posters that most people will switch there computers off at night.

    I'd like to see more details on which sleep modes are supported.

  • As johncz said, an idea could be to implement the backup functionality into the shutdown process. Today, when XP og Vista has downloaded security updates, the computer will install these during shutdown, unless the user tells it not to do so.

    Why not do something like that? Of course, you should not have too many options just to shut down the pc. That would conflict with the whole idea af WHS. But I'm sure that it's possible to come up with the perfect solution.

  • Please, please, please add in WOL - even if it is disabled by default (I joined this blog specifically to request this)!!  Two reasons:

    1. People have already said this - waking a computer in the middle of the night to initiate a backup.

    2. Remote desktop - It has already been mentioned that one could use the WHS to connect to a computer on your home network for a remote desktop session.  What if the computer is turned off (as mine are frequently when I am away from home).  What if, while away from home, I realized I needed to do something on my computer (yes, this has happened before)?  It would be wonderful if I could simply logon to WHS - ask it to wake my computer (send WOL packet) - and initiate the remote session.  I would be overjoyed by this feature.  I would very much like to have just one "always on" device - WHS, and use that device to turn whatever else I need on easily.

    I beg you guys on the WHS team - please add WOL

  • Brian, you make an excellent point in regards to the RDP scenaro.

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