Backup Windows Home Server via FTP

Remote or off-site backups are a great solution for those who wish to protect their WHS files from fire, flood or theft. This adds a great layer of redundancy in case of catastrophic loss. For WHS there are a few remote or on-line backup options out there (iDrive-E, Mozy, Carbonite) and some even offer a WHS console add-in (Jungle Disk, Keep Vault). But these services either charge a monthly or per GB fee, which can quickly get expensive! Also, your precious files are in the hands of some unknown holder. But there is another solution and all you need is your own remote web site server with some extra storage space.

Personally, I use Handy Backup on WHS to run a weekly FTP upload of “special” files to my remote web site server. This gives me a great layer of redundancy for no additional cost per month because I already pay a monthly fee for the web server. My web server is cheap! I use a company called BlueHost for my web site needs. It’s only $6.95 US a month and is cheaper still if you pay up front for a year. You get 300 GB of storage, 3000 GB of transfer and a free URL if you need one, plus a ton of extras. Heck, that’s better than many of the fee based backup options listed above! So, if you want a more economical and customizable remote backup solution for WHS…then this option may be for you. All it takes is a basic understanding of the FTP protocol, a cheap web host plan and an hour to set up Handy Backup on WHS.

This article lists the steps necessary to set Handy Backup to run as a WHS Service and backup files to your off site server via FTP. This will allow Handy Backup to run in the background without being logged into a user account. This setup can also be used to create backups within your network as well. This was tested on WHS RC1 and the OEM (RTM) versions during October 2007.

Step 1: Get the software

The software comes with a 30 day trial or you can buy it for about $39 US.

Don’t bother to pay the extra money for the Run as Service! You are going to do it manually for free! Handy 5.8.0 comes with a 30 day trial for the Run as Service. Again, you’re going to set it for free!

  • Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools-Here
  • Marcel’s AnyServiceInstaller Tool- Here

It’s a zip file, so you may want to get it on your PC, unzip and place the .exe in a share folder with the other three files.

Step 2: Install Software

  • Log into WHS via Remote Desktop. Drag all three files from your share folder to the Desktop.
  • Install the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools.
  • Install Handy Backup.

During installation, install links to the Start Menu and the Quick Launch Menu.

During installation, tell Handy to open when finished.

Once started click on File>Settings. At the top click General. Uncheck “Launch Agent at Windows Start Up” and “Show Splash Screen at System Startup.” This is to reduce the annoyance factor at logon time.

If you paid for your license, install your key so you don’t forget.

Close Handy Backup.

Step 3: Set Up the Handy Backup Service

  • Open Marcel’s AnyServiceInstaller Tool

Open the Mode menu from the toolbar and select Advanced.

Click the first Browse button and go to the folder where the Windows Server 2003 Resource kit was installed. It should be: C:\Program Files\Windows Resource Kits\, select the Tools folder and hit OK.

Now click the second Browse button and go to the folder containing the Handy Backup hbagent.exe. C:\Program Files\Novosoft\Handy Backup select hbagent.exe and click Open.

WarningDo not select the backup.exe or this service will not work properly!!!

Under Service Name give this service a name that’s easy to remember. I choose “HandyBackup Task Bar Agent,” but you can choose anything you like.

Under User Name, enter the main WHS administrator name. With RC1 and OEM the default is Administrator unless your changed it during WHS installation. It is case sensitive too.

Under Password enter your main WHS administrator password. It is case sensitive too.


Here is what it should look like. Click “Create” and then Reboot WHS.

Step 4: Configure Handy Backup-Decide which folders to back up-Set the FTP parameters.

  • Open Handy Backup using the Quick Launch icon you set up earlier.
  • In Handy Backup, at the top task bar select File>New Task. Below is the window you should see afterwards.


  • Select the Backup Task radio button and click Next.


  • Now click Add. A menu will pop up and have many choices to select. Folders is listed at the top. Click on the Folders Icon to select an entire folder on WHS to backup.

You can select folders or individual files after clicking on Add. You can keep adding to this list with as many folders or files you want to back up for this particular day and time. If you need other dates or times then you will have to repeat this entire sequence with a new task for each grouping of folders or files.


  • You now must find your \\Servername\Foldername . Browse to your My Network Places>Entire Network>Microsoft Windows Network>Workgroup> and find your server name and click to expand file list. In this case my set up is \\Server\Users\Paul Roberts . Select the folder or sub folder within you wish to back up via FTP and click OK.

Warning, do not select My Computer>Data (D) and then to Shares. i.e. D:\\Shares. Files backed up via this root may become corrupted!!!!

You can also configure Handy Backup to backup files from WHS to ANY network PC hard or USB drive as well…….

You can also configure Handy Backup to backup files from a network PC or USB drive and send them via FTP along with the files being sent from WHS……


  • I selected a folder with a single 2 Mb PDF so I can easily/quickly check for file transfer during testing.


  • Select your backup method. Either a full back up or new and or changed files. The second option saves time and bandwidth after the initial backup is made. Especially with large files.


  • Select FTP

You can also backup files or folders to/from WHS, to/from a network PC or USB drive too. Or just about any way or direction you want…. Not just FTP.

  • At Host enter your remote server IP. Then your port, user name and password.
  • Next to Location / click the blue PC monitor to open the FTP connection to your server. You should be able to get into your server. Toggle Try Passive Mode if one way does not work. Passive mode is most common.


  • Once logged into your server (you will see the server communication in the bottom portion of the window), Click the top folder / icon. If you don’t get logged in, double check your IP, user and password or toggle Passive mode.
  • You can Select an existing folder or create a New Folder.


  • I chose to Create a new folder. Name it something easy to remember and click Create.


  • Now your new folder should show up in your server listing. Highlight your new folder and click Select.
  • Click Disconnect.


  • Now your FTP settings are complete. Click Next. (my Host and User settings are hidden)


  • Here you can choose to compress or encrypt your data. I did not choose either.


  • Now check Setup Schedule and click
    Next. Don’t select Run Now at this point. You still want to test WHS and Handy to run without being logged in….. Almost done.


  • Until working correctly, select Once and click Next. When everything is working you can come back and change the time and frequency of this backup via Properties for this scheduled backup.


  • For testing purposes, set your time ahead about 5 minutes. That will give you time to finish the next screen and then RESTART WHS for a test run. Click Next when done. Again, this can all be changed once you know things are working correctly.


  • Now assign a name to your backup task and click Finish.


  • Your first file backup schedule is done. Now for the test. You did give yourself 5 minutes or so before the backup begins??? Now, note what time it is and Restart WHS. Remote desktop will turn off. But don’t log back into WHS! You want to make sure the Handy backup starts the service on its own and runs the scheduled backup you just made.

I gave myself a 5 minute window, which should be enough time for WHS to reboot and start the service. Then either watch your router lights to check for data transfer or use your favorite FTP program on your client PC and keep refreshing the view until your files show up. If all goes well, your files should transfer and Handy will close its FTP connection. If not then you need to check that your folders, dates and times are correct. You are now done.

Step 5: Optional–Handy Backup Service Settings Check:

To check your service settings in WHS click Start > Control Panel > Admin Tools >Services. You should find your Handy Backup Service listed. Double click the Handy Service to open the window and toggle through the tabs. Below are my service settings as done in the examples above. You can start, stop, pause or disable the service should you ever need to.





Guest Writer
Paul “The Judge” Roberts ©2007

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  1. David Friend says:

    Dear Phil,
    I just wanted to point out that Carbonite does not charge by the gigabyte. It’s $50 per year no matter how much you store. Unlimited. More importantly, it is completely automatic. Once you set it up, you don’t have to pay any attention to it. FTP is not a good option for people who aren’t quite technical and don’t have the time or inclination to worry about such stuff.
    Dave Friend, CEO
    Carbonite, Inc.
    http://www.carbonite.com Carbonite Online Backup

  2. Kyle says:

    Handybackup.net appears to be a rouge company that is infringing on Handybackup.com’s intellectual property and brand name.


    Might want to find a more reputable solution.

  3. zoogmo says:

    Why pay monthly fees to backup your data online?
    With Zoogmo you get absolutely FREE and UNLIMITED offsite backup!

    Zoogmo makes backup cool by using existing internet connections, available space on computers & your great relationships with your friends to automatically and securely back up your files to a place you trust. YOU control where your files are backed up by building your personal network of your own or your trusted friends’ computers or USB drives.

    Shouldn’t you decide where your precious data will be backed up?

    Because Zoogmo can make redundant backups of your files to multiple locations, you get a more secure backup and also a faster BitTorrent-like restore. Zoogmo partners decide how much space to allocate to each other on their computers and then Zoogmo runs in the background, automatically backing up changes on your computer incrementally. All backups are encrypted before they leave your computer so only you know what you are backing up and absolutely no one can read your files.

    If you backup between your own computers at home, backup and restore happen at LAN speed which is 30-50 times faster than the internet.

    Zoogmo turns spare disc space into a backup community – backup meets social networking. There’s even a cool Facebook application that you can use to tell your network of friends that you are looking for backup space.

    Download now at http://www.zoogmo.com to begin turning your social network into your backup network.

    Dov Sugarman
    Zoogmo – Your Online Backup Community

  4. TheJudge says:

    Boy, the competition is fierce in the backup market….LOL.

    First, let me say that the purpose of this article is to offer “Options” for readers and users of WHS. I even gave links and credit to some of the other “options” available to the public. As with all customers, no one solution is best for everyone’s specific needs, skills or technical abilities. Hence, the publishing of this article as one of those “options.”

    Dave Friend-Carbonite
    Carbonite is a good product. I test drove it last year. It’s everything you said it is. But, so too is the solution I offer here in this article. Set it and forget it. It is an “option” for those of us who do know how to use FTP and have a web server already. And my data is in a secure, visible location on my own server. Which was clearly stated at the beginning of the article. If a reader’s technical prowess is not up to the task presented here…then one of the other options listed is there for the taking.

    Kyle- Handybackup.net vs. Handybackup.com
    I’m not going to get in the middle of debating the “appearance” of these two companies conducting in trademark infringement. Handybackup.net is listed on Tucows.com as the only product with that name brand. I’ve used it now for two years and it works fine. The . net firm does originate from Russia. I’ve found no “infringement” claims made by either company on their web sites. If Kyle’s claim concerns you, then don’t buy it or use it. I do competitive analysis for my company, so I’ll do a little homework and see what I can find out and post later.

    Boy, another advertisement….LOL. Not a bad concept either. But do you really want to backup your data to your mom’s computer? Hmmm, not so sure I want my files spread all over my friends and family’s pc’. Privacy and possible virus spreading would be my concern, but not a bad “optional” idea.

    Bottom line here…. This article is to provide those with the knowhow and the means to create a third, redundant and remote backup of your files in case of fire or theft. As stated, there are many options out there, but not all are for everyone. Look through the information and mis-information and decide for yourself. Most important, make an offsite backup today!

  5. TheJudge says:

    Ok, I know they are related. I followed links from both .com and .net. The billing addresses for the parent company are both in Russia and both are in the same city! The wording on the .com Novosoft Inc. and .net Novosoft LLC are almost identical.

    The .com has a US distributor in Autstin,Texas and the .net has a US distributor in Alliance, Ohio.
    The .com email and web address is novosoft.us
    The .net email and web address is novosoft-usa.com

    Open the addresses in tabs and compare. I just followed links from the contacts section on both web sites.
    Novosoft Inc. (.com) http://novosoft.us/other/contact_us.shtml#1

    Novosoft LLC (.net) http://www.novosoft-usa.com/other/contact_us.shtml

    Cnet lists the LLC (.net) as the official download company. http://www.download.com/Novosoft/3260-20_4-6201534.html?tag=tdw_publink
    Tucows.com lists the LLC (.net) as the official download company too.

    See for yourselves… But this is probably two different divisions within the same company competing with each other through both of their US distributors…LOL. Games…

  6. Greg Kettell says:

    BTW, just for the fun of it I downloaded Carbonite to my XP box and transferred it over to the WHS. It installed fine, but I had trouble getting backups to run.

    Just for the heck of it, I did the same with Mozy, and the lastest version installed fine. Perhaps they’ve relaxed the restriction on installing on WHS?

  7. Hi Greg Kettell,
    Your right the new version of Mozy will install on WHS but it will not back up any network paths, so its no good at present for Windows Home Server.

  8. TheJudge says:

    One more reason to us Handy Backup…It flat works! And you can configure it to backup other network drives to a remote server….;-)

  9. matt21572 says:


    Unlike other loosers out there, I read your post, tried it and think it is the best thing going when it comes to free backup solutions. Thanks a bunch for your post, it was awsome and worked 100 %

  10. Hi matt21572,
    Glad you liked it. And yes it is the cheapest way to backup WHS externally.

  11. Shangwe says:

    This works beautifully! Thank you! This helps plug a WHS vulnerablility, namely, the need for off-site backups.

    It seems I should be able to put together a script or batch file using the Actions tab that would turn off the whsbackup service, then backup the client database on WHS to bluehost, and then turn the whsbackup service back on. Thus, the client database is backed up in the event of a catastrophe. Of course, file sizes and upload times may not be acceptable depending on bandwidth available. Has anyone tried this already?

    Also by way of an update, Handy Backup is now up to version 6.1.0 and the run as windows service is included at no charge. 🙂

  12. Stephen L says:

    Hi Philip. I have just built my first WHS machine and was interested in this post for an offsite backup solution. This was written a little while ago…would you say that this solution is the best one available in early 2009?

    Thanks in advance. And I love your site!

  13. The Judge says:


    Well, there are several pay back up sites and plug ins available for WHS. The solution I wrote about above is but one way to get there. Is it the best? I feel it’s most secure and controlled…by me. I have the remote web server and the extra disk space there to make redundant backups of my WHS. Plus, it’s a super cheap host! C’mon, unlimited disk space and bandwidth! Wow. Even if you use it only for your backups, $7.00 a month is cheap! 😉

    If you don’t have a web host you already rent or don’t have the tech know how on setting this all up, then one of the paid backup systems I mentioned at the beginning of the article will do just fine. Again, which one is best? Well, it will be a mix between cost and file sizes you need backed up.

    Make sure you have duplication turned on in WHS for your important stuff. Then if you feel you want an “off site” back up to protect you from fire or theft….then use my idea above or one of the paid backup systems. Any of them are an excellent option based upon your needs and abilities.

    Hope that helps.

  14. Shangwe,

    Glad you liked my article, even though my comment is some moths old. If you stop by again, your suggestion sounds great! Please give details on how to do this as I’m sure many would like to know.
    Of course, with PP1 and the additional backup options it provides, you could use Handy Backup to FTP those client backups too.
    Yes, the service portion is now included with HBackup, so the part instructing on the service is not really needed anymore. 😉

  15. Stephen L says:

    Thanks Paul for your comments. I already pay $9 a month for web hosting with Hostgator. I looked and saw that I do have unlimited storage, so I am going to give your solution a whirl.

    Thanks again.

  16. Guido Nordhaus says:

    I would like to point out that using bluehost for offsite backup is a violation of their ToS, as one of their chat support agents just pointed out to me a few minutes ago. Guess it is true what they say: You get what you pay for. And bluehost is ..cheap.

  17. Paul "The Judge" Roberts says:


    Well, I’ve not seen that in the TOS bit myself. But, who is to say what files are used for what purpose on any web site? Are they “back up” files or are they…a….files? I had many files on my server with a download page and I expressly spoke with Blue Host about those files and they had no issues. Besides, once uploaded, they don’t get rewritten unless changed.

    Sorry, but your comment seems more like a disgruntled competitor commenting on the “Cheap” services of BH just like the anti-whs and handy comments. Did you go to their Live Chat just to dig that bit up and post it here? C’mon, really. I’m not commenting again on this point.

  18. Guido Nordhaus says:

    Wow, lots of hostile vibes I get there for just pointing out that you advocate a solution that violates ToS for the hoster of your choice. I also would like to point out that neither do I own any webhosting business, nor do I work for one, and hinting at that I do is a pretty low way of arguing your point. And yes, I did got to their livechat and specifically asked about that part of the ToS after having read it first to get clarification on it. Seems like a pretty normal thing to do if you have questions about a service and want to avoid troubles.

    Then again: It’s your data, your files. And if you feel comfy having a offsite backup that is bound to have issues even before you upload your first file, go ahead, that is your choice. Note: By issues I do not mean that you will _definetly_ loose those files. You may even keep all of them and never have any issue at all. But can you really trust in your backup? No? So whats the point of an offsite backup, then?

    Finally: If you advocate such a solution here AND offer readers the ability to post comments, why act all defensive if somebody has a comment to make?

  19. Paul "The Judge" Roberts says:

    Guido Nordhau,

    My comments are offense, not defense. With that being said, anyone is free to go out of their way to find any discrediting data they wish and speak their mind here. It is usually a mechanism to create doubt amongst consumers… i.e. Defense. Though it is the common theme with all things M$ or that circumvent the need or use of a commercially available products. 😉

    Disclaimer i.e Fine Print:
    For the record, Blue Host now states in their TOS that official “Backup” services are not supported. Of course, any file is subject to “Backup” interpretation ;-). If any reader has concerns about backing up files on their hosted web server, then please follow Guido Nordhau’s advice and first check with your web host’s TOS or pay for one of the “Official” backup companies listed in the article. 😉

    Thank you for reading and using the tutorial.

  20. Matt says:

    As a bluehost customer I know they used to offer an automatic backup service for the website you put up and they have done away with that meaning now you have to do manual backups of the site or count on them to do it occasionaly which they do. I believe all accounts now have unlimited space if requested. As near as i can tell they do not delete any files that i upload whether they are in my public_html folder or outside of that(which is where I am storing my backups). I agree though their purpose is not to store my backups and if something were to happen they would probably only be able to restore my website and not my personal backups in which case I will just have to upload again.

    Thanks for the tips it is working like a charm for me!! I would like to know if there is a way to upload my backups from the server and not just the files from shared folders?


  21. Pat Cavit says:

    I’m looking into using Fling (http://www.nchsoftware.com/fling/index.html) since it’s free, runs as a service & just sounds perfect. I’m a bit stuck on what files I actually want to upload though. Could I put a copy of my computer backups online, or does the SIS stuff keep that from being possible? I haven’t seen anybody talk about it so I’m assuming that it isn’t possible.

  22. TheJudge says:


    Glad my tutorial helped you with backups.
    I feel that BH, like other ISP’s, don’t want to promote mass backups because of bandwidth usage, growing storage usage and ultimately liability from loss of data should their servers crash. It only makes sense from a business point. But hey, If I back up to an alternate HD it too could die. But then you ave multiple copies, so no biggie.

    As far as backing up the PC backups, I thought PP1 or PP2 on WHS enabled those files to be pulled out and stored on a seperate…non-pooled HD on WHS. I’ve personally not do this or even looked into the details. But once you install a non-pooled HD and move copies of your PC back ups there…sure,.. you could have Handy FTP them to your web host.

  23. TheJudge says:


    Please read my last post about PC back ups, PP1 & PP2 and non-pooled hard drive on WHS. I’ll leave the homework to you guys on that topic. But once you put the back up files on that extra drive, you should…should be able to FTP them off site….

    Did a quicky look at Fling. If it does an autobackup then great. Just set it to back up the same folders I listed in my tutorial.

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