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Configure Your Computer to Backup to Windows Home Server

One of the cool features of Windows Home Server is being able to set backups of the other computers on your network to the server. Today we take a look at the process of configuring a computer on your network to be backed up automatically to WHS.

Backup to WHS

To backup a computer your network, open the Windows Home Server Console and select Computers & Backup. Right-click the computer to backup and select Configure Backup.

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The Backup Configuration Wizard kicks off…

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Wait while the Configuration Wizard collects information…

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Choose the disks you want to backup…notice you can also choose external drives if you wish to back them up. Note that the disk needs to be formatted as NTFS, if it’s not then it won’t be displayed in the list.

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Now choose the folders you want to exclude from the backup. The grayed out locations are automatically excluded but you may want to remove them from the exclude list. If you want to exclude other folders click on the Add button.

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Now go through and select the folders to exclude from the backup. To reduce the size of your backups, you might exclude large media files and unimportant documents, pictures…etc. Make sure you don’t exclude your most important documents, pictures, and other data.

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After you’re done excluding folders from the backup, click Next to continue.

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Then you’ll have the Congratulations screen showing a summary of the backup size, the time of day backups will occur, and the backup frequency which is daily.

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After the backup process completes you’ll be able to see if a computer has been backed up or not in WHS Console.

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If you want to change the time of day backups occur, click on Settings in WHS Console then Backup. Under Backup Time you can change the start and end time to what fits your schedule.

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To view a backup just right-click on the computer and select View Backups.

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It opens the View Backups window where you can verify and manage your computer’s backups.

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Conclusion

This will get you started with backups and you’ll have peace of mind knowing that your computer’s data is being backed up to the server. The process is relatively simple and the main thing is to make sure the backups aren’t needlessly large with unnecessary files (such as large multimedia files). There’s a lot more administration you can do with backups, and we’ll be taking a detailed look at managing them in future posts…so stay tuned. Remember that you can download a free 30 day trial of Windows Home Server, so if you have an extra machine you can dedicate to being a server, you might want to check it out.

Download the 30 Day Trial of Windows Home Server

Brian Burgess worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. He's been a tech blogger and journalist for the past seven years, and can be found on his about me page or Google+

  • Published 02/9/10

Comments (7)

  1. Tim

    Really been enjoying your WHS articles as a fellow WHS owner myself. One tutorial I’d love to see is recommend practice of backing up your actual WHS server. One of the more recent power packs introduced the capability of backing up the actual server to a drive not in your “pool”, but I never could get it to work.

    Especially since the WHS is the only place most of us store our media, it would be pretty terrible if the server itself had some kind of failure.

    Thanks and keep these great articles coming.

  2. John Shelton

    I am a big fan of WHS. I first got it within days or weeks after going public. It is uncharacteristically (for Microsoft) intuitive and easy to understand and use. (Definitely, positively, absolutely DID NOT originate from the same “Redmond cubicle” as Vista – or Windows 7 for that matter. End of opinionating!

    Several months ago, I began receiving frequent (false) notices of harddrive failure. (The harddrive that was reported as being defective is the internal harddrive that I am using on this computer at this moment – without any failure notices approximately a year later.) Even tho there was no obvious failure, I decided to replace both ot the two harddrives with new and larger ones. I read, perused, studied, and tried to follow instructions as to how to copy (or image) from the old hard drives to the new ones at the time of installation. I was never able to get the images transferred and had to just start over with a format and reinstallation with the new harddrives. I was simply lucky not to have had any connector computer failures through this harddrive swap and creation of new images and transfer of saved folders back to the server for storage.

    Clear and easy-to-follow instructions on how to replace a WHS hard drive without losing either saved images or personal files would be a very helpful article for all of us WHS users out here in the “jungle”.

    Another How-To article that would be very beneficial to many of us would be how to effectively make a WHS connector a thin client. I envision configuring (“hacking”) synctoy or a similar synchronizing application to automatically sync a folder with a counterpart on WHS when that folder (document, image, etc) is closed on the connector. It would be desireable that this happen automatically with no specific input from the operator unless it was desireable to NOT sync at that time. With WHS duplication turned on, it would not even be necessary to save a copy on the connector computer.

    John

  3. EMB75

    Tim,

    It must be zeitgeist: Hers’s what I posted on the HP forum just a few minutes ago:

    Participants,

    I may have the answer to my question, but I will pose it anyway:

    1. My reason for purchasing a home server was to preserve my data in the event of a computer crash (which did happen to me when a drive physically failed). Daily back up is now routine.
    2. Since installing the server, I’ve found its terrific functionality as a file library allowing access from the numerous computers in our home network.
    3. In the forums, I’ve noticed many concerns about data preservation in the event of theft, fire or other calamity. It’s been proposed to unplug a hard drive and store it off premises, in a bank vault, or other secure location.
    4. Why is it not just as feasible to copy the hard drive to a CD, DVD or Blu Ray disk and obtain true archival quality preservation? Burn to disc functionality is conveniently built into the server. But, if you burned all your files, you would obviate the need for the server.

    I expect that my answer is 1) it is impractical to do a daily burn (there is not that much information created in a day; rigorous discipline would be required); and 2) the volume of information accumulated over time on a server, measured in terabytes, would require a large number of discs.

    Any comments on what best practice should be?
    Thank you.

    EB75

  4. RonV

    When I built my home server I had backup of the server as one of my priorities. I built the server using a computer case that has an external SATA drive bay. This weekend I purchased a 1.5 TB drive at Fry’s and decided to backup my video’s from the server as a test. So I inserted the drive into the bay and immediately WHS saw the new drive. I right clicked the drive to add it and selected “backup the server” as the use of the drive. Then the wizard asked me to label and drive with something meaningful. Next it asked what I wanted to backup based on the shares.

    I selected not only my video’s but also music and photos and there was still some space left over on the drive. In about 2 hours I checked back and the backup was finished. I removed the drive and it now was removed from the list of drives on the server. I decided to re-insert the drive to see of the server remembered the drive and when it was listed went to the Computers & Backup screen and it showed the status as last backed up and then when I right clicked is showed the backup set for the drive.

    I personally think that using hard drives as back say on a weekly or monthly bases and then taking them to work as a safeguard is the easiest way of doing backup’s. I did the cost of DVD’s and the HD backup came up the most inexpensive when you factor in the time to do the backup.

    Just a comment is that I had to use ACHI drivers from my motherboards windows XP directory and tell WHS that it was ok when it complained about the version. From what I understand that ACHI is the only one that supports hot plugging SATA disks.

  5. Jon

    I’ve been using WHS for some time now; I had hoped to have my server in my shop, which is connected to my network via a pair of EnGenius EOS-2610. I found out that it is true – it absolutely will not work if connected wirelessly. So now it sits in a utility room away from everything, doing even more than I had originally hoped for. The only thing I did not care for was the necessity of using passwords on all my home computers. We have satellite TV service, so downloading and storing lots of movies is out of the question. I recently did some computer work for some people in our church, and since I only do work for people in our church, I do not charge. These people insisted on giving me a MP3 player (which he had bought but not used) so I now store songs on my computer. We have registered therapy dogs that do a trick show for nursing homes. It was a nice surprise to open my song folder and find it automatically opens the media folder on the server, too – which is now complete with all my videos of the dogs as well as all my MP3 songs.

    It goes against all I know to add a hard drive to a computer and not open that computer’s interface to set it up. Even accessing the interface on the server brings up a warning screen telling me to access the server from a different computer. By the way, I used a slower computer for the server than recommended, as all it does basically is make backups, so speed doesn’t matter that much. I bought a spare 1.5 TB external drive on sale, on which I keep a weekly backup of all our files. I disconnect it after the backup, and take it to church and store it there. A completely off site easily accessible storage facility! I am currently in the process of setting up another WHS at our church to backup our Powerpoint presentations, songs, and other media.

    I am using a D-Link DIR-632 8 port router, and with the satellite somehow I cannot get the server to be accessible from off-site. Maybe someday I’ll figure it out, but for now, I’ll end with: All in all, I wish I would have set a WHS up sooner.

  6. Jim

    I was wondering if there was a way to have your computer that you backed up go to an external drive like you have the WHS backup. The server can be specified to go to a certain place, but the workstations do not seem to be able to do that.

  7. Jon

    Update for WHS
    I installed WHS 2011 in my home, and kept the original WHS I already installed at church. The biggest difference I see is the new WHS does not and will not use external hard drives as part of the backup. It will, however, use an external drive for it’s own backup of itself, and will not use an internal drive for backup. Odd. Luckily I have not had the need to try rebuilding a computer from an image on the server. I think the biggest problem is the constant nagging from the server about backups, the need to log in to the server on every reboot from a client, and the need for passwords on home computers. I think the server should be there doing it’s thing and not tell me all the time what it is doing and cannot do. Why should I have to log in for it to back up? I already told it my password and what to back up. Once they design the WHS to work in the background without intervention on my part (after initial setup) the WHS will be a product I will recommend to others. Right now it is simply a means to backup, but mostly for the “geeky” types like me.

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