Windows Server 2012 Essentials – How to Skip Domain Join to Install the Client Connector

Windows 8 Logo

The Essentials Experience Role on Server 2012 provides (amongst other things) full client backup and restore capabilities – much like the now discontinued Windows Home Server. However, on Server 2012 joining the domain is mandatory for clients.

There is a workaround and it is possible to connect clients to the server without joining the domain – simply enter the following command in an elevated command prompt:

reg add "HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Server\ClientDeployment" /v SkipDomainJoin /t REG_DWORD /d 1

Below is a registry file that produces the same result:

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

; ##############################################################
; Skip Domain Join on Server 2012 R2 - Windows Server Essentials
; ##############################################################

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows Server\ClientDeployment]

We can now Connect Computers to the Server without joining the domain.

Note that domain features will not be available for clients that connect to the server in this way. This is only supported on Windows 7 & 8 (Professional and above).


Windows Home Server – Windows 8 (VMware) Backup and Restore

Now that I have been playing around with Windows 8 (Release Preview) for a while I was curious to see if I could install the Windows Home Server (WHS) Connector Software and perform a backup and restore.

As you can see I was able to backup my VMware Windows 8 virtual machine (VM) just fine. Similarly I did not have any issues restoring it to a new VM either.

I do not have a spare physical machine for testing though and I have read that WHS does not support restoring to a machine that boots with UEFI.

Apart from this – and the potential for driver issues during restore (for networking or storage) – I hope to be able to continue to use the WHS backup and restore feature for Windows 8. I would much prefer to be able to do this for physical rather than just virtual machines though …

Ubuntu Server 10.4 Lucid – Installing and Configuring the Feng Office Backup v1.0 Plugin

In my previous post I configured Ubuntu Server with a set of scripts and cron jobs to backup (and restore) the Feng Office installation folder and the MySQL database to a Windows share.

The Feng Office wiki mentions an alternative backup method – in the form of a plugin that can be installed and configured from the Administration panel. The current version of the backup is v1.0 and it can be downloaded from here.

The plugin does include a basic readme.txt file but it does not clearly detail the steps that are needed to install the plugin.

First you will need to have wget and unzip installed on your server:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install wget unzip

You can either download the plugin (if the version has changed since this post was written) and upload it to your Feng Office server or use wget to download the file as follows:


Extract the plugin to your Feng Office installation folder – for me this is /var/www/feng_community:

sudo unzip -d /var/www/feng_community/

Now open a browser and log in to Feng Office as the Administrative user.

Copy and paste the following URL to install the backup plugin (replace <server-ip> with the IP address of your Feng Office server):


You should now see that the plugin is successfully installed:

Click the back to opengoo link to return to Feng Office and then click the Administration link:

In the Administration Panel click the Backup icon:

Click the Launch backup process link:

Once the backup is complete you can download it to your local machine and then delete the backup from the server:

If you check the Cron Events section of the Administration Panel you will see that the backup plugin can be scheduled and enabled quite simply.

The only problem that I see is that the backups are saved locally on the Feng Office server – this still requires the Admin user to download the backups to store them somewhere else.

Sadly as far as I can tell restoring the backup is a manual process. While it doesn’t look too taxing it would involve copying the backup to the Feng Office installation folder and then manually restoring the MySQL database backup.

While this backup process seemed to work quite nicely (and it is nice to be able to do from within the Feng Office interface) I plan to use the scripts and cron jobs that I already have set up to back up Feng Office.

Ubuntu Server 10.4 Lucid – Backing up Feng Office 1.7.4 (Community Edition)

The Feng Office Wiki has instructions for backing up the Feng Office installation folder and the MySQL database. This can either be done with scripts and a cron job or with a plugin that allows for configuration via the Administration web console and a cron job.

In this post I will look at the scripts and cron job – I intend to look at the plugin later on.

Backing up Feng Office for me this means backing up /var/www/feng_community as well as the fengdb database.

In my previous post I mounted a share on my Windows Home Server in Ubuntu Server using the following mount point /mnt/whs-backup.

Note: Your Feng Office installation folder, database variables and backup destination may differ so adjust them as required.

To run a nightly backup I need two brief scripts, a secure file that contains the MySQL username and password, and two cron entries to run the backups.

Update: In the comments potion pointed out that the cp command does not file owner/group or permissions. So I have added his suggested scripts for the tar command.

Here are the explanations of the tar switches used:

-c, --create               create a new archive
-f, --file=ARCHIVE         use archive file or device ARCHIVE
-x, --extract, --get       extract files from an archive

Note: the following two scripts are saved in my /home/username folder.

The first script will back up /var/www/feng_community:

Original script:

#!/bin/bash sudo cp -R /var/www/feng_community /mnt/whs-backup

Tar script:

today=$(date '+%d_%m_%y')
sudo tar -cf /mnt/whs-backup/"$today"_feng_community.tar 

I saved this file as

The second script will backup the fengdb database and query a secured file /etc/fengdb.cnf for MySQL credentials:

mysqldump --defaults-extra-file=/etc/fengdb.cnf fengdb >

I saved this file as

Now we need to make these two scripts executable:

chmod +x backup*.sh

Create a file called /etc/fengdb.cnf:

sudo nano /etc/fengdb.cnf

Add the following lines using your MySQL fengdb username and password:

host = localhost
user = fenguser
password = yourfengdbpassword

In nano press Ctrl + O and then Enter to save and then Ctrl + X to exit.

Secure /etc/fengdb.cnf as follows:

sudo chmod 600 /etc/fengdb.cnf

At this point we could execute the two scripts manually and backup Feng Office to our Windows share.

To automate the backup we use cron. This is what my cron settings look like (my two scripts are set to run everyday around 1am).

# m h  dom mon dow   command
15 1 * * * /home/username/
*  1 * * * /home/username/

Change username to your Ubuntu Server username.

To edit your cron settings use the following command:

sudo crontab -e

You can use my settings or you can easily generate your own cron settings using the online cron generator.

If you have configured Feng Office to communicate with email accounts such as Gmail be prepared for the backup of /var/www/feng_community to take a little while (depending of how many email and attachments have been downloaded).

As with any backup we also need to know how to restore the backups. For this we need two scripts. The first I named

#!/bin/bash sudo cp -R /mnt/whs-backup/feng_community /var/www

Tar command:

sudo tar -xf /mnt/whs-backup/*_feng_community.tar 

In the tar restore above the * refers to the date of the backup.

The second script (to restore the MySQL database) I named

mysql --defaults-extra-file=/etc/fengdb.cnf fengdb <

Again, make both of these scripts executable:

chmod +x restore*.sh

For the record I did test the restore process before posting! Please take precautions when you test restoring your backups (and make sure that you change the appropriate variables in the scripts to match your environment).

Sources: Feng Office Wiki, serverfault.

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 …