What’s New In Windows Home Server Vail Backup?

Bodhi Deb has posted a summary of what is new in Backups for Windows Home Server (WHS) Vail on the Microsoft Forums. I have edited the post for readability and added my own emphasis in bold along with some additional explanation where applicable.

Note: Not all features stated above have been fully developed in the product yet. For details about what is and is not available please refer to the Getting Started guide.

Backing up your server

[The] ability to backup the server and restore both data and the full system from a disaster was one of the [most requested features] from our customers. In Vail we have provided [the] ability to do automated backups of the full server to external attached storage. Features include:

  • Full VSS based backup of the server to externally attached disks … [VSS stands for Volume Shadow Copy Service – it allows allow volume backups to be performed while applications on a system continue to write to the volume].
  • Ability to back up to multiple targets for off-site storage. You keep one external disk onsite for your most recent backups, and the other disks offsite in case of disasters.
  • You can back up the Operating System, Data, Shared Folders, and even the Client Backup Database for future recovery.
  • Select what you want to protect using the server backup configuration wizard on the Computers and Backup tab.
  • Schedule automatic backups multiple times a day up to half hour intervals
  • Backups to external disks are incremental for storage optimization but each back up version is fully restorable.
  • Restore scenarios include restoring individual Files or Folders, Full system restore through Bare Metal Restore, and Factory Reset

Backing up the client computers

Centralized backup of client computers to the Windows Home Server storage was a feature introduced in Windows Home Server V1. The basic technology and […] features have been carried forward with some key feature updates.

Features from Windows Home Server V1

  • Automatic daily backups of network joined client computers to centralized storage on Windows Home Server
  • Backups are single instanced and incremental over the network. This provides storage and backup time optimizations. Only unique data and incremental changes across your home network are sent over the wire and stored only once.
  • Ability to exclude files or folders from your backup
  • Restore scenarios include individual Files or Folders and Full System Restore to similar hardware using Bare Metal Restore.

New Features in “Vail”

  • Support for VSS writers on client computers to improve consistency of backups.
  • New backup configuration wizard allows you to select volumes or folders you want to backup. Items that are not selected are excluded from the backup.
  • New Files or Folders restore Wizard provides a guided wizard for the user to restore individual files or folders from a backup.
  • New mini filter driver for the Files or Folders Restore wizard solves many of the problems in V1 resulting from multiple mount of backup volumes.
  • Intelligent automatic scheduling allows more computers to be backed up
    • Higher priority is given to computers with the oldest backups during the time window.
    • Prioritization is calculated dynamically.
    • Computers which are chronically out of compliance (such as laptops) are automatically backed outside of the backup time window whenever they are connected to the server.
  • Backups are now resumable. In WHS V1 if backups are not successful, it started from the beginning the next time backups ran. This resulted in computers with high storage in repeated failed backups. In Vail we take checkpoints along the way (this is not visible to the end user). If for any reason backup fails in the middle such as due network connection drop, backups will resume from the last checkpoint next time it runs.
  • Full system restore functionality now allows automatic partition and formatting of drives during restore. In WHS V1 if volumes did not exist, users had to manually create partitions and format them before continuing with the system restore process. In Vail we do this automatically based on the configuration that existed in the source during a backup.
  • System restore disk now includes both the x86 (32 bit) and x64 bit version of the restore media. This allows you to restore both x86 and x64 bit client computers without the need to download and install specific 32 bit drivers for the restore CD.
  • Improved resiliency and robustness of the backup database including an improved database repair functionality.
  • Backup applet on the Client Launchpad allows users to start/stop manual backups as well as set the power management settings.

The support for 64 bit restores, and the ability to back up the WHS installation are of course most welcome – and overdue in my opinion. Resumable backups and scheduled backups are also great additions to Vail …

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