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Windows Home Server – Backup to LAN

Saw the post on Backup Windows Home Server Folders to an External Hard Drive, and the teaser: “In future articles we’ll be covering automated backup solutions locally, over a LAN, and online backup as well.”

I recently went through the process of setting up backup of a WHS to a NAS device, and after a lot of trial and error with different programs and configurations, settled on robocopy. Here’s what I did:

1. Selected a NAS whose file system supports large file sizes (important for video backup – don’t get a cheap NAS with FAT32! I chose a Buffalo LinkStation Live.)
2. Created a new WHS user named ‘backup’ with full permissions to every share on the WHS.
3. Created a new NAS user with the same name/password as the WHS backup user
4. Created new share(s) on the NAS and gave only the backup user access (important, since the data on the NAS won’t inherit the security permissions from the WHS – don’t want everybody on your network to see the backup data)
5. Install robocopy on WHS (simply copy robocopy.exe to C:Windowssystem32 or similar)
6. On WHS, create scheduled task for each share to be backed up:

robocopy \whsshare \whs_backupshare /COPY:DAT /E /FFT /DCOPY:T /R:0 /W:0 /TS /FP /NP
/LOG:\whs_backupsharebackup.log

Command line explanation:

/COPY:DAT – since your NAS doesn’t have NTFS, the only thing you can reliably copy is the data
/E – subdirectories included
/FFT – since we only want to copy files that have changed since the last backup, and since NAS doesn’t have NTFS, have to use this option to ensure the timestamps are selected correctly (this was the hardest thing to figure out!)
/DCOPY:T – copies timestamps on folders too
/R:0 – don’t retry locked files (don’t want the automated backup to hang)
/W:0 – don’t wait between retries
/TS /FP /NP /LOG – log file settings (really useful to figure things out when it’s not working!)
(Note that I didn’t use the /PURGE option; I want to keep files that might have been accidentally deleted in the source. Might be a good idea to run a purge job occasionally, though, especially if the NAS starts to fill up.)

7. Made sure the scheduled task was set to run as the backup user – required for read/write permissions to the NAS folders
8. (Not sure if this is necessary) Went into the WHS control panel users panel and made the backup user a member of the backup operator group
9. (Optional) Installed the WHS Advanced Admin Console add-in so I could remotely check/modify scheduled tasks, and can browse to NAS shares via ‘My Network Places’

That’s it – it’s been running like clockwork for two months now, backing up several hundred gigs of data and several thousand files in a 6-client small business network. The NAS is physically located in an adjacent building (wireless bridge connects the two), so should be protected even if one of the buildings gets hit by lightning.

Restore process (which I haven’t had to use yet) is simply connecting to the NAS as the backup user (password required!) and browsing for the desired files.

  • Published 02/19/10

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