Backup – What I Love And What I Want

All hard drives fail. It’s not a matter of if but of when. Since you are reading this, chances are computers are mission critical in your home. Windows Home Server (WHS) is the best solution for backing up the computers in your house. You can rest easier knowing that if a hard drive fails you can quickly and easily recover from a hard drive failure.

What I Love.

It’s just so easy! Most people don’t backup their machines because it’s a hassle. Not so with WHS. Once it’s set up, WHS keeps and manages multiple backups for all your computers without you having to do a thing. In addition, it gives you the ability to “lock” backups so that they won’t be automatically deleted. It’s a good idea to do this for the first backups you run. That way if a machine becomes infected with malware, you can restore it to a known good point.

It notifies you if there’s a problem. WHS puts an icon in the system tray for all computers connected to it. If that icon is green, things are good. If it turns red, something needs attention. Let’s say that you are running out of hard drive space on the server, the icon will turn red to let you know. Or maybe a machine hasn’t been backed up for days; again it will let you know.

What I Want.

I want more control. WHS lets you decide when you want backups to run and how many to keep. But this setting is for everyone on the network. What I would love to see is the ability to set backup times and other settings for each machine. This matters to me for two reasons. Some machines contain more critical data than others. The machines that my wife and I use have important files stored on our local drives. On the other hand, my kid’s just use their machines to connect to the net. Also, we have early birds and night owls at our house. It would be great to set one machine to backup between 9 and 11 PM and another to backup between 4 and 6 AM. This would help avoid the problem of backups failing because the machines were in use.

I want integration with online backup. Windows Home Server is great but it’s not a total backup solution. For that, you need to add online backup. I use Carbonite but there are a number of good alternatives out there. In an ideal situation WHS and an online service would work together seamlessly. Here is how I see this happening. WHS would know if an online backup were running on a machine and wait until that’s finished to run its own. In addition, online backup would be integrated into the Health Alerts so that you would be aware of any machines that were not being backed up regularly online. Lastly, the server itself would be backed up to the online service. I would love to see a vendor step up to the plate and offer unlimited household backup integrated with WHS for around $10 per month.

How about you?

What do you think of WHS’s backups? Do you know of a better solution? How could it be improved?

This is a guest post by Craig Huggart. He blogs at Tech Rest.

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Comments (11)

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  1. Don says:

    I would like to see a back-up to tape drive function (LTO).

  2. Brian says:

    I love the automatic backup, but I agree that configuration options on a per-machine basis would be great. Not all of my computers are used every day, or even every week, so they’re not always turned on. I don’t want to either get nagged about the lack of backups or have to remember to back those up manually when I do have them on.

    Some sort of backup for the server is key. I personally prefer the method of using an external hard drive connected to the server and then taken to either a relative’s house or to a bank safe deposit box method over online, but either one included out of the box would be wonderful. Also the ability to restore from that backup during a reinstall (should the server suffer a major failure) and retain all the settings, not just the shared folders would be great.

    Lastly, I’d like to see automatic backup of more than just Windows XP and Vista. OS-X is becoming the dominant OS in my house, so WHS’s backup features are dwindling in their usefulness. A backup client for OS-X that works as seamlessly as the one currently available for Windows would make a world of difference for me, as far as viability of the product in my home. As it is right now, Linux is doing the job, though with it took more to set it up than WHS did to make things work. But at least the Macs are automatically backed up now.

  3. JustDavid says:

    I’m happy, so far, with what is available. What I want most of all is an X64 Home Server Connector software version!!! That way I can go back to running the 64 bit version of Vista Ultimate on my toys.

  4. Kevin says:

    I’d like more robust media organization capabilities.

    For example, workstations or media extenders should be able to find my Dracula.mp3 audiobook file at both


    without needing unnecessary “extra” copies of same file.

  5. Pete says:

    I have been reading about the online backup industry for a while now. Online backup is maturing and slowly getting the attention of the general consumer. One website worth mentioning is the backup review site:


    This very informative site, not only posts up to date news and articles from the industry, but also lists about 400 online backup companies and ranks the top 25 on a monthly basis and features a CEO Spotlight page, where senior management people from the industry are interviewed.

  6. Brian:

    I agree, I would love to see the ability to backup OS-X machines.

    A couple of other things I would like to see are an iTunes server Add-In and the ability to connect to any machine on the network regardless of operating system.


  7. reddragon72 says:

    not exactly backup, but does deal with the backup purpose, but I would like to see PXE boot instead of an installer disk. Integrated PXE boot to run the restore process would stop from having to deal with scratched CD’s…

  8. JohnCz says:

    A couple of improvements to backup I’d like to see…
    – Backup/Recover WHS using a online storage service
    – Better overall integration with Live OneCare
    – x64 Connector (coming in a Spring Update apparently)
    – Connectors for non-Microsoft Operating Systems

  9. Hi all,
    Some great comments being left here. Keep them coming.

  10. noone says:

    What I would like to see is an option securely to backup a WHS server to a remote WHS server. That way I could get 2 one for me and one for my parents. They could make thier local backups and then backup to each other. That way both WHS servers would have to go down before data could be lost.

  11. Gregg says:

    If this is already a feature then I haven’t figured it out, but I wish I could backup my laptop while I am on the road. I can access the server of course through the home page but not via the WHS Connector; thus the automatic backup will not function until I am back on my home network.

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