Posted by: tranquilpc | March 15, 2010

WHS Tip Maximise Backups

Tip 0126 – Maximise Backups

Home Server Tip Level – Basic

Maximise the data protection of your home / small office PCs


Windows Home Server has a number of neat and unique tools to ‘backup’ your PCs and the data. Your PC data and the programs are valuable, and the hard disk that stores all those files will eventually fail.

Windows Home Server is also based on these same spinning hard disks, but is reduces the possibility of failure by keeping copies of each file on multiple hard disk drives, it’s called ‘folder duplication’.

Also Windows Home Server can not only store and duplicate your ‘files’ but it can also ‘backup’ your whole PC. It does this on an automatic schedule, normally late at night.


By ‘duplicating’ folders across multiple hard disks within the Windows Home Server, the possibility of data loss due to a hard disk failure, in the Windows Home Server, is greatly reduced.

By using the Windows Home Server PC backup function even if your PC is lost or stolen, or the system fails in some other way, it’s quite simple to restore the whole system to a new PC or hard disk, or just restore individual files or folders.

What data protection policy should you follow?

So the question is do you ‘move’ your data files to the duplicated folders on the Windows Home Server, where the data is very safe, or do you keep the data files on your PC and rely on the Windows Home Server PC backups?

Both will substantially increase your data security, but it depends on a number of criteria which is best for you, or is a mixture of solutions optimal?

If the PC is a mobile device, and the data files are needed whilst away from the home or small office, then it’s best to use the PC backup on a daily basis as your main security policy. However, there are often large numbers of files that you don’t need every day – so move those off to the Windows Home Server. Not only will this protect those files, but it will free up space on the PC.

If the PC is a desktop, and always connected in the home / small office, then it may be a good decision to move most of the files, especially media files, to duplicated folders for protection and safety. This will keep the PC running efficiently. It also means you can get secure access to the files from anywhere.


Let’s say you have a notebook PC, with lots of applications installed, some work files, music files, pictures, private documents etc

· It may be wise to move the bulk of your pictures to the Home Server | Photos folder
– Freeing up space on the hard disk

· You may wish to move some of your music files to the Home Server | Music folder
– Keep some music for your travels too

· You should keep your work files on the notebook, if you use it for business outside of the home – but you could archive some of the files too

· You may wish to move your private documents to the Home Server | User files, not only to protect them, but to keep them safe from theft



  1. Folder duplication (of shared folders) will guard against a single hard disk failure since the data is stored on another disk. This is pretty nice protection.

    Because I want centralized storage of useful files like photos, documents, videos, etc. this is the method I use for that. The real drawback/danger to relying on folder duplication is it doesn’t prevent against user error. If I delete an important photo, or were to accidentally overwrite it with a bad crop or other edit, that change is duplicated. Until WHS has versioning, I can’t recover from this. The issue is that after a short while my bad changes are propogated to both disks and I have no way to go back.

    The workstation backup however will manage this because it remembers the state of my computer over several days, weeks and months. So if I want to get back a photo I deleted a couple months ago, or restore a file that got corrupted by a virus, or whatever, I can do that from the workstation backup.

    I really wish the shared/duplicated folders could support versioning. I know Server 2003 (on which WHS is currently based) can do versioning, but unfortunately there is a problem with using it under WHS (can lead to corruption), so they turned it off. This is one of the biggest holes in WHS that I see. I hope they fix this flaw in a future update or the next version.

  2. I do a combination of both. My home server is thankfully huge, so all my 5 machines at home can be backed up. I must say however, it is RARE that we ever look back at the backups unless it is a dire emergency (disk failure etc).
    What I use the home server most for is its ability to stream content throughout the house to any of the machines on the network. I keep folder duplication on for the majority of the folders as extra security, except for the music folder, as I have that on my machine and it is already backed up.
    A few days ago I used my giftcard at Newegg and bought myself another 1.5Tb drive for off site backup. I chucked it into an old My Book external hard drive case and am currently in the process of moving it somewhere safe.

  3. I use a combination, although primarily documents/photos are all stored on WHS shares (used to be on a linux nas) with folder replication. This offers some protection against disk failure but is not backup.

    For that I us ssh/rsync to replicate to a 3rd party provider. This is done twice a day & the provider keeps timed snapshots too (1/2/4/8 hour 1/2/7/28/90 days or similar)

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