We all know that we should backup our computers in case of hard drive failure, disaster, trojan virus, or simple wear and tear. Yet, every time I meet customers and I ask them, when was the last time you actually did a backup of every computer in your home protecting your important data, memories and well… life? The answer almost always is: <Insert shoulder shrug here and look of despair> Windows Home Server and its automatic image based backup software technology, gives you peace of mind and the ability to quickly and easily restore your digital life after your system has crumbled and all hope is seemingly lost.
There are plenty of backup software packages out there. The top reviewer sites, CNET reviews , Top Ten reviews and PC Magazine reviews detail the many features and attributes of backup software programs such as Acronis True Image and Genie –Soft. When you compare features side by side, none of them have the same backup capabilities of Windows Home Sever with its consolidated image based backup technology allowing you to quickly restore your entire system including programs, files and settings, usually in less than one hour. I will ask it again, as I often have… How many of you have 4-8 hours to rebuild your computer or hire someone to do it? Most of you probably don’t even have the software from the OEM or cannot remember where it is to do this.
What exactly is image based backup software and why is it better for me? J.D Biersdorfer from the New York Times did a great job of explaining the differences in an article for the Personal Tech column entitled "Backing Up is Not So Hard" .
“In file-based backup, the program saves copies of files and data on the computer to an external hard disk, recordable disc or removable drive after someone tells it what files to backup. Image-based backup software, on the other hand, makes a snapshot or “disk image” of the computer’s entire hard drive and everything on it, including programs, settings and the operating system. An image-based backup can come in handy if, say, the computer’s hard drive completely dies, because the backup can be copied into a new hard drive, fully restoring the contents.”
Windows Home Server is like a time machine for the computers it protects. When your hard drive crashes and time comes to restore files from a backup, it is a very simple process; simply insert the boot CD, type your password then sit back and let the Windows Home Server restore your entire hard drive of your computer back to a previous point in time.
What really makes Windows Home Server stand out from the pack of other backup software products is all of the other things it does in addition to providing a rock solid backup solution, easy to expand storage, such as file sharing, streaming media and remote access. Windows Home Server OEM partner versions like HP MediaSmart, Acer easyStore, VIA and Shuttle combine the hardware & backup software into a convenient plug & play package providing the easiest way to enable your backup needs.
Choose Windows Home Server because of its image based backup software and restore capabilities or for the file sharing and streaming media connections it creates within your networked home. Either way… won’t you sleep better when you know that your digital life and memories are safe?
Moira & Kevin
One of my mottos has always been: You cannot have enough backup! So, I am always investigating
Sounds great - now how do I backup the system drive on my WHS computer?
Thanks for the question Wayner. This question has been answered numerous times and in numerous locations. There a number of factors that influence how I would answer your question. If you have an OEM copy of Windows Home Server, Server Recovery is pretty easy as the OEM's like HP, Acer, etc.. had to build in a recovery option for the Windows Home Server. You lose some settings through the process after putting in a new drive, but the server reinstallation process is pretty easy.
Search on Server Backup in the forums or look at some of our Home Server MVP blogs for more information on what you can do to insulate yourself froma disaster where you lose your system drive of your Home Server.
We are always looking at better options for making your life easier in case of drive failure in your Home Server itself.
But why would I lose settings. The requirement to reinstall the WHS OS is not a very good solution. The reason that I run WHS is so that I can quickly restore from a Hard Drive failure. To not be able to recover my server to its pre-crash condition is a failing.
Note that I run SageTV for WHS so I have some software installed on my WHS and it is non-trivial to get it back to where it was after reinstalling the OS.
It is not ideal scenario, but it is a scenario where the primary drive of your Home Server could fail. As with any OS or other piece of hardware like a NAS, or an external HD, etc..... you can have failures. No one out there really has an eligant way to recover in those scenarios either. Just remember that we have done a lot of work with our OEMs through Server Recovery and Reinstallation to make a recovery as robust as possible for our V1. You still have your shares preserved, which would have all add-ins that you downloaded as well as all of your replicated file shares. Also, if you follow the Technical Brief on Backup and Restore, http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=196fe38c-df20-4e19-92ca-6bda7bec3ecb&DisplayLang=en you can also recover your backup database.
If you go up to any of our MVP blogs you will see that they have other creative solutions that they have suggested to recover from this unfortunate type of event.
One other possible way that I have heard suggested before was to use another Home Server to simply backup the system volume of your Windows Home Server. It is probably the lowest cost solution to backing up a Windows 2003 Server out there. Most other third party applications that backup Windows 2003 Server are designed for the Enterprise and are priced a lot higher. I am not saying that backing up your Windows Home Server with another Home Server is a supported solution, but it is something I have heard as another option in the community.
When you are paranoid about losing data, you always have a failover plan for backups in case one fails. My solution is to use the Technical Brief and backup my backups to an external drive and use the Server Backup feature to backup my shares once a month.
I have had a Home Server for almost 4 years and have never had a system drive fail. I use the WHS Disk Management Add-In http://forum.wegotserved.com/index.php?autocom=downloads&showfile=64 to keep an eye on the health of my drives. If I see something that gives any indication that I may have a drive health issue, I take steps to get that drive replaced.
Did I mention you have your Home Server on a UPS?
I hope that this was helpful. I appreciate the feedback and we are definitely always looking into ways to make recovering from a system failure even easier. Please keep the feedback coming.
Community Lead - WSSG
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