Author Topic: Seeking backup solution  (Read 231 times)

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Offline rrinker

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Seeking backup solution
« on: March 18, 2020, 05:53:30 pm »
 I am working on replacing my Windows Home Server 2011 box, since it runs on Server 2008 R2, and my cloud backup provider is no longer supporting this OS (which is EOL by Microsoft). I really hate to do it, WHS is actually an amazing system that does a lot with absolutely zero work required, but the hardware is even older, and while I have some newer drives in it, most of them are 8+ years old now and showing signs of reaching end of life.

I already use a third party product to provide the drive pooling, since Microsoft removed that feature from WHS 2011 (it was in the original WHS). So that carries over to a new server. I use Plex, so the media center capabilities are mostly wasted. I have 5 workstations around the house, plus a couple of media players, so I was building the new machine simply as Windows 10. The drive pool software runs on it, the new version even support SSDs for fast cache (I'd love to build the whole thing with SSD, but the current system has 13TB of storage, and just duplicating that with all SSD is crazy expensive - maybe the next one after this can be pure SSD).

What will be missed the most is the backup. Far as I can find, NO ONE has a backup solution that does what WHS backup does - it backups up all my machines across the network, deduplicating the backups, and storing the files are plain files that can be then backed up by my cloud backup. It does incrementals after the initial full backup, but it automatically stitches everything together so that if I want to restore a file from last week, i simply mount the desired backup as a drive and copy the files I need off - even if the file in question did not actually change that day. I don;t have to manually restore the last full backup and then every incremental. I just pick my point in time and get the file as it was on that date.

The closest I've found is a Linux-based, which alone isn't a problem, I can run a VM and do this. The problem is, the VM disk file will be in use and not backed up, otherwise this would be a fine solution. I'm not against installing software on the clients themselves, but a server-based one would be best. ANyone doing anything similar, and have a software recommendation?


 

Offline rdl

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Re: Seeking backup solution
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2020, 10:32:18 am »
I used WHS2011 for about 5 years. I never really liked it much, but it did sort of work. If I remember right, it required 5 or 6 different services to run constantly in the background. I used to get a lot of false "Health Alerts".

I finally turned off the "Dashboard" and uninstalled the "Connector" services and just used it as a normal file server and as the location for Windows 7 built in backup. It was a lot better after that.

I switched to storing stuff on a FreeNAS machine some years ago. I no longer keep much of anything important on individual machines.

Have you looked at third party back up software to run on your workstations? A lot of people seem to like Macrium Reflect.
 

Offline rrinker

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Re: Seeking backup solution
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2020, 12:16:42 pm »
 Totally opposite my WHS experience. It's been rock solid. Yes, there are health alerts, because they don't give you a way to permanently ignore things like having the Windows Firewall turned off, but at least with a Windows 10 client, you can have it not display the alerts. Small price to pay for a fully automatic deduped backup that is also equally easy to restore from.
 Since they took out the drive pooling from WHS 1, a third party tool was needed, but it costs all of $24 to buy. No RAID to deal with which just doesn't cut it, and why I don't just use something like an (overpriced) Synology. Being able to throw any size drive in to expand the storage and still have files protected is the second huge plus of the platform. And that means no special 'parity' disk that controls how much you can store total like some of the other options I've looked in to. I have little actually stored on my local machines, important stuff is on the server, like all those photos that aren't replaceable. And that is all backed up off site as well. 
 A couple of the old home server sites are still around, found a few recommendations. I really want something managed from the server, because while I have no problem with this stuff, everyone else in the house is, shall we saw, well below 'expert' level. A few suggested the free community edition of Veeam, so I installed that to test it out and I think it will do. Bonus, a lot of our clients use this to back up their vmware environments so I can get more familiar with it myself, plus the new machine has plenty of capacity to run some VMs for testing. I don't run nearly as much as I used to at home, I don;t want to come home and manage yet another network, which is another reason the completely hands off nature of WHS was appealing.

 

Offline Halcyon

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Re: Seeking backup solution
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2020, 07:03:48 am »
Have you considered FreeNAS and SyncThing?
 

Offline rrinker

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Re: Seeking backup solution
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2020, 07:08:34 pm »
 Yes, and the page after page of caveats on pooling disks with ZFS just makes me want to toss it all in the trash. WAY too complex and needs too many disks to achieve the same level of file redundancy I can get with the StableBits DrivePool.
 Not to mention, if my server should go belly up, I can take those drives out of it and read them on ANY computer that can read NTFS - ie any Windows machine or even many Linux machines. That's something high on my priority list as well, and a reason why using something like full-blown Windows Server with Storage Spaces is also out.

 I just need to order the storage drives now, machine is built and operational, just no disk other than the OS redundant M.2 drives. Stuck at home and the big project I was working on to keep busy for work, the company completely shut down so I might as well order some drives and start copying data. Eventually I want to do SSD cache but I can always add a pair of SATA SSDs later , when you add drives to the pool you can specify them as just pool members or as fast cache, all it does is change the preferred landing place for new incoming data and also pool balancing to prioritize moving data off the SSD and on to the spinning disks. Pretty neat, actually. , and it mirrors data in flight to two SSDs if you have them.
 

Offline Halcyon

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Re: Seeking backup solution
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2020, 09:12:24 am »
I fully respect that ZFS isn't for everyone, but it's well supported, well documented and even used in large enterprise. If your server dies, simply spin up another FreeNAS instance (or anything that can read ZFS), mount the volumes and off you go. Sure it's not as simple as "plug and play" NTFS, but what do you expect for a proper file storage solution? It has several advantages over traditional RAID as drive order doesn't matter and data integrity is maintained. I'd even go one step further and say that your data is actually safer on a ZFS volume. Particularly if you're thinking about an SSD cache, then again, ZFS is a far better, modern solution.

As for "needs too many disks to achieve the same level of redundancy", could you explain a bit more what you mean? With ZFS you simply specify how many redundant disks you want out of your pool, whether it be 1, 2 or 3 disk failure tolerance. The configuration is very simple and flexible. You can even mirror an entire pool if you wanted.

I'm not suggesting it's the only option, but it's a very stable, flexible one which I've been using for many years and it only keeps getting better.
 


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