Windows Home Server: network backup
Part 5 of GALLERY: Windows Home Server beta 2
|Backup by decree: admins can schedule an automated backup for any XP or Vista client machine
|Safety schedule: backups can be restricted to run in off-peak hours (as long as the machines are left on, of course), and Windows Home Server can run its own updates and maintenance during that timeslot
|Smart backup: backing up as many as ten clients will quickly consume every last chunk of your server's disk space, so Windows Home Server uses ‘single instance storage' to write only a single copy of any file
Knowing that no-one ever backs up their system, the Windows Home Server admin can schedule an automated backup of each Windows XP or Vista client straight to the server. These backups employ the same 'single instance storage' technique as Windows Server 2003 and Vista's Windows Imaging format. Only one copy of any data cluster (at 4kb per cluster) is stored, no matter how many times it appears on how many PCs -- any backup image containing that data is simply given a pointer to its actual location.
This means that the same data residing on more than one PC -- from Windows system files, applications and supporting DLLs to movies and MP3 tracks -- is stored just once. This drastically reduces the size of each image, and consequently the server's overall storage requirements. Subsequent backups are incremental, modifying only those clusters which have changed due to a file being added, edited or deleted.
Client PCs on our network were able to access the server's shared folders via both Ethernet and Wi-Fi (using a wireless router connected to the server) and also run backups over Ethernet. Each attempt at a wireless backup stalled before completion, although this is a known bug with Beta 2.
|Users can backup, too: XP and Vista users can click the Windows Home Server Connector system tray icon to launch a backup at any time
|Patience is a virtue: even over a 100Mbps LAN the process of a full backup can be painfully slow. Hurrah for home networks with Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11n, we say!