Microsoft Small Business Server 2011 Essentials Server Backups the Easy and Hard Ways

1
Posted March 22, 2011 by Patrick Kennedy in Software

One of the great new features in Microsoft Small Business Server 2011 Essentials (SBS2011E) is the ability to backup the system drives easily. This was a feature that Windows Home Server v1 was generally lacking and is something that users have taken for granted at this point with newer, more full featured versions of Windows Server platforms. Microsoft has been doing a great job of making server administration easy for the novice in SBS2011E and Windows Home Server 2011 and includes a simple dashboard interface to create backups. This guide will show, using the current beta version of SBS2011E both the easy way to configure backups and the more full featured, but harder way.

Test Configuration

Starting this guide off, I will note that the test configuration is a Windows Server 2008 R2 test System I used solely (at first) to test things like RemoteFX and Dynamic Memory for Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1. Everything is done in Hyper-V but everything is representative of what one will see in a normal non-virtualized environment.

  1. CPU(s): Intel Xeon X3440
  2. Motherboard: Supermicro X8SI6-F
  3. Memory: 2x 4GB kits of Kingston ECC 1333MHz DDR3 KVR1333D3E9SK2/4G (Unbuffered), 8GB total
  4. Case: Norco RPC-4220
  5. Drives:  2x Western Digital Green 2TB
  6. OS(es): Windows Server 2008 R2 with Hyper-V installed, Small Business Server 2011 Essentials

Note, I do recommend more than 8GB of memory if using a production system similar to the above. 16GB of memory is much more suitable and costs approximately $150 more for unbuffered ECC DIMMs. For this demonstration and for testing Dynamic Memory, this worked well.

Creating Server Backups the Easy Way – Using the MS SBS2011E Dashboard

Microsoft made making server backups easy with a wizard located on the main dashboard. One simply needs to click

Setup Server Backup on the Dashboard

Setup Server Backup on the Dashboard

Once the wizard starts, click next.

Setup Server Backup - Start Wizard

Setup Server Backup – Start Wizard

On this screen one wants to select the backup disk that will be used. This may require checking the box labeled “Show all disks that can be used as backup disks” and then refreshing the list.

 

Setup Server Backup - Select Backup Disk
Setup Server Backup – Select Backup Disk

At this point a user will be prompted to enter the backup disk label. Especially if using multiple disks, this can be an important way of keeping track of disks.

 

Setup Server Backup - Label Backup Disk

Setup Server Backup – Label Backup Disk

After the target disk is labeled, one can then specify a backup schedule. One should note that Microsoft is pushing users towards a best practice of at least two daily backups, or allowing a user to schedule their own up to every half hour. I like using 12:30 AM and 12:00 PM as it provides a middle of the night backup as well as a mid-day backup during lunch when usage is likely lower.

 

Setup Server Backup - Schedule Backups

Setup Server Backup – Schedule Backups

After determining a schedule, one can pick what they want to back up using an easy directory hierarchy. If you are unsure of how much to backup, and do not have a huge amount of data, I would suggest backing up everything. Note, especially when using “green” sub-7,200rpm disks for mid-day backups, backing up everything can cause lots of disk access slowing server performance.

 

 

Setup Server Backup - Select Folders to Back Up

Setup Server Backup – Select Folders to Back Up

Finally, one reaches the end of the wizard and confirms settings.

 

Setup Server Backup - Confirm Settings and Apply

Setup Server Backup – Confirm Settings and Apply

That was easy wasn’t it? Then again, it was quite limiting and with most things Microsoft, there is a slightly less user friendly layer to server backup that exposes a bit more power to the user.

Creating Server Backups the Hard(er) Way – Using the Server Manager’s Server Backup Wizard

Still relatively easy (as far as this site is concerned), is the method most familiar to many Windows Server 2008 R2 users, using the Server Manager’s Server Backup function.

 

Server Manager Backups the same in SBS2011E as 2008 R2

Server Manager Backups the same in SBS2011E as 2008 R2

The above picture shows the Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Server Manager -> Windows Server Backup screen and then below in the virtual machine the SBS2011E Server Manager -> Windows Server Backup. The Action labeled backup once is not overly exciting, one can easily imagine what that Action accomplishes. For this, we will be looking at the Backup Schedule. Please note, if you used the Easy – Dashboard method above, clicking on the Backup Schedule option will allow one to modify the current backup with a few more options, still guided by an easy to use wizard.

Windows Server Backup Getting Started

Windows Server Backup Getting Started

Clicking next lets one configure backups either of the whole sever or of selected portions (using custom). In general, I would recommend Full server backups unless there is a good reason not to.

 

Windows Server Backup Configuration

Windows Server Backup Configuration

After the data that one wants to be backed up is configured, it is then time to set scheduling. Note, this is a different order than the SBS2011E Dashboard workflow. Also note, the default here is once a day versus the Dashboard which recommends twice a day.

 

Windows Server Backup Scheduling

Windows Server Backup Scheduling

Next it is time to pick a destination. Note that here one can pick a dedicated drive, a volume, or a network share. The network share option gets to be fairly slow if one is backing up many TB over a single GigE link. It also only saves a last backup to restore from, so one cannot go back in time through multiple backups. One advantage is that it allows for super simple network backup to a different machine.

 

Windows Server Backup Destination Type

Windows Server Backup Destination Type

I decided to show the back up to a volume. One then can pick the destination volume which is the same Backup-1 used in the Dashboard example above.

 

Windows Server Backup Destination Volume

Windows Server Backup Destination Volume

Finally, one then can review selections and apply the backup rules.

 

Windows Server Backup Confirmation

Windows Server Backup Confirmation

 

One other advantage of looking at the Windows Server Backup interface instead of the Dashboard is that one can tweak performance options. Clicking on the Configure Performance Settings action brings up a screen that allows one to either do full volume backups or just backup using changes.

 

Server Manager Backups Configure Performance Options

Server Manager Backups Configure Performance Options

 

The first option is the very simple option as it backs everything up. The second option only backs up data that has been changed. Many high-end storage and backup solutions use similar functionality. The positive with using the faster performance option is that backups are often completed much faster since less data is backed up. The negative is that the system must keep track of all of the changes and that causes a performance overhead. Further, one can set this based on whichever volume will be backed up giving a more granular performance tuning option to users.

Conclusion

Backups are good. Many users will read about the removal of Drive Extender and think that RAID provides data protection. It does to some extent, although I tend to look at RAID more from a redundancy perspective. As many knowledgeable users will tell you, RAID is not a backup. Using the Dashboard (easy) method described above, one can easily start to backup their data. On the other hand, for users willing to run the slightly more advanced Windows Server Backup wizard (harder) method Microsoft provides some extremely useful backup customization tools. Since the Windows Server Backup wizard is also easy to use, configuring Remote Desktop to be able to avail oneself of the additional features is probably worth the slightly less convenient to access wizard.

Feel free to discuss this article on the ServeTheHome.com Forums!


About the Author

Patrick Kennedy

Patrick has been running ServeTheHome since 2009 and covers a wide variety of home and small business IT topics. For his day job, Patrick is a management consultant focused in the technology industry and has worked with numerous large hardware and storage vendors in the Silicon Valley. The goal of STH is simply to help users find some information about basic server building blocks. If you have any helpful information please feel free to post on the forums.

One Comment


  1.  
    LexTol

    Solution:
    The Windows Backup utility in Windows SBS 2011 Essentials is able to do a immediate (backup once) or a scheduled backup. The scheduled backup is not able to use removable disk (e.g. USB memory stick, DVD or Dell RD1000). Only internal and USB hard disks are recognized as a valid backup target. This is because of the mandatory bound of the unique disk identifier with a backup job.
    But there is a very simple workaround to avoid this problem: share your removable drive as e.g.: \\Servername\RD1000, and schedule a backup to that share in stead of a fixed disk. Make sure that the person who defines the backup job has full control rights to this share. Problem solved.
    LexTol





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