Tag Archive for: backup

Hyper-V VM Backups

19 Feb 2012
February 19, 2012

I was looking around for a quicker and easier way to do automated backups for running Hyper-V guests as part of a recent work project. As you might guess, there are tons of options – mostly it comes down to how much you want to spend.

I had been told that Microsoft’s System Center would be the way to go, but it sure looks expensive. I made a few phone calls on that and then decided to look for something more focused at backups.

backupChainBoxA few web searches later I turned up a product called BackupChain. I liked what I saw on their “Hyper-V Backup” link so I decided to try the free 20 day trial. 15 minutes later I had it installed and configured on three Hyper-V host servers and the first backups running.

Does just what it says on the tin and I’m now seeking the funding to purchase a few licenses. And to be clear: I’ve had no contact with the company or their marketing people. I just like the product!

I set up weekly backups for a big pile of live VMs and haven’t had to think about it since. And yes, I’ve tested restores too. That’s also dead simple – and a reasonable way to clone VMs to boot.


Windows NFS: Don’t Forget .maphosts

25 Jul 2010
July 25, 2010

I recently mentioned that I was trying out NFS Services on Windows 2003. It actually has been working quite well for me – faster and less CPU than NFS to my OpenFiler server, in fact. OK, to be fair, the OpenFiler server is a bit older and running a pair of hyper-threaded Xeons while the Windows server sports a much newer 2.66 Quad core. Perhaps the processor makes a difference?

image Anywho, on the Windows server I’m using the User Name Mapping service to map *nix user accounts to Windows user accounts. There are other ways to do this, but it seemed the simplest and easiest for my purposes. I just mapped the root user from the ESXi server to my domain account and then use NFS shares from Windows for backup purposes (using ghettoVCB).

Last week I thought it would be prudent to ensure that I could actually do something with these backups I’m stacking up. Since they’re already on an NFS share I figured I’d just connect to that share with my Windows 7 machine running VMware Workstation.

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Switching Home Backups to CrashPlan

01 Apr 2010
April 1, 2010

For our home backups I’ve primarily been using the free version of Mozy for three and half years now (first look). It works great for us and the few times I’ve needed to recover files there have been no issues. In fact, the only issue I’ve had is not having enough backup space with the free version. (that’s a link straight to the free version – it is a little bit more hidden than it used to be…)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not whining about not having enough free stuff. That would be shamefully crass. I’m just mumbling about it a little… *grin* But long story short, we finally outgrew our space, even with my affiliate link bonuses.

CrashPlan Logo Enter CrashPlan. While CrashPlan has Pro/Business option I’m using their Home and Office flavor. There’s a pay option to backup to their servers for under $4 a month (free for the first 30 days) but there are additional destination options that are free. You can backup to local drives, USB drives, your other computers running CrashPlan, or friends’ computers running CrashPlan. Or combinations of the above.

Now, most of the computers I and family members own tend to have way more hard drive space than we need, so now we’re all hosting each other’s backups.

Here’s what I’ve got setup so far:

  • My laptop backs up to my home machine. The backups are fast when both are on at home on the local network. Normally I wouldn’t want backups to be so close to where the machine is at night, but the “key” data on the laptop is also in DropBox so this is acceptable for now (until my little web of backups grows).
  • My Home machine backs up to my mother’s machine – 700 miles away.
  • Mother backs up to my home machine.
  • Father backs up to my home machine.
  • Wife is still on Mozy.

As I work on other family member machines I’ll be adding them to the “mesh” as well and continue to aim for geographically diverse options.

Some things I’ve learned after a couple weeks:

CrashPlan Destinations The first backup can take a really long time over the ‘net. If you have a big USB drive, backup to that first. Transport the drive to where the destination PC is, copy the backup directory to that one and then tell CrashPlan on that PC about the backup. This is how I got my home PC backups to my Mom’s PC the first time. Probably saved a week of data transfer…

For flexibility, you can setup your machine to backup to multiple destinations (other PCs, local drives, USB drives, etc.). However, a key thing to be aware of is that they all get the same backup set. In other words, you can’t backup the MP3 directory to one machine and the docs to another. You’ll have to backup MP3’s and docs to both machines. Not a deal-breaker, but it would’ve been nice to have a bit more flexibility.

I’ve had the setup described above running for a couple weeks so far and have had no issues. The backups are chugging away every evening when the right machines are online. I’m pleased and confident that this is a solid solution.

If you’re looking for a free (or inexpensive cloud) backup option I definitely think CrashPlan is worth a look. Supports Windows, Linux and Mac and even Open Solaris. Good stuff.

Anyone else used it – or other/similar options?

Things I Wish I’d Thought of Regarding Online Backups

23 Jul 2007
July 23, 2007

Data Center image just because it seemed like a good idea... Thinking about going to online backups for your home or office? I’ve been a Mozy user since last August and recently gained a lot more (unplanned) experience with the MozyPro service as well.

What follows are some things to consider. While all my experience is via the two Mozy services — and I’ve generally been very pleased — I think a lot of this applies to other services as well. If not, you can bet their corporate representatives will drop some comments to educate us!

Weigh the Pros and Cons

Going to an online service is a big change from the traditional tape or removable hard drive type storage that most of us are used to. It also tends to be a lot cheaper (especially when you factor in secure and controlled offsite storage facilities for tapes). But, there are some things to ponder.

For instance, if you suddenly need to recover 20GB of data, you’ll pay a bit for that cost savings.

Then again, need to just grab a handful of files? Online storage will be way faster than running through a tape.

You get the idea? Look over your business continuation plans, your disaster plans, and make sure you can still meet your goals.

Mix Options?

After noodling around the pros and cons, maybe it makes sense to mix in some hardware with the online storage? For instance, maybe pick up a large NAS unit? Have all that storage on the LAN, back up (or mirror) machines to that, then back it up to your online backup service.

Recent data is right there on the LAN, but older data is safely offsite yet still retrievable.

I thought I’d mention this as I’m currently mulling it over… Thoughts?

That First Backup is Going to Take a Long Time

Plan on it. Allow for it. You’re about to ship many gigabytes of data over the Internet. If you’re doing this from home, you might even have the added “feature” of upload caps slowing you down. From the office? You might want to have the backup client configured to throttle back on the bandwidth during business hours (no fun clobbering the office network!).

One of my recent new setups took over 5 days going full time, but throttled to 256Kbps during business hours.

Don’t setup up 10 servers all at once. Bring them on to the service in phases or waves.

Plan the Restore Carefully

Just had a disaster and need to get all the data back down? Think before you start (aka learn from my mistakes). Plan to make a few restore passes. For your first pass, just select the stuff you need the most.

Side Note: I only have experience with MozyPro. To do a restore, you select the backup set or drives/folders via their website. Once completed, they’ll bundle that up into a series of self-extracting archives and drop you an email when they’re ready.

In my case, 21GB took about 10 hours for the bundling. The final download was completed roughly 30 hours later. The final download had the files we needed first.

If I had marked that first, then went back and marked the rest for a later pass, I wouldn’t have waited nearly as long for the stuff I wanted first! Life would’ve been a bit calmer.

Don’t Set it and Forget It

The little backup client tells you it completed? Check the history or the logs. Make darned sure it completed. Look for errors. Just like any other automated process, get in the habit of checking up on it.

In my case, it said it was done. But really, it was “done” because it hit a file that caused an error so it had to stop. If I had paid closer attention (and perhaps the error was more obvious) I wouldn’t have missed several GB in my initial backup set.

As an aside, the MozyPro folks have been friendly and easy to work with — and I guess I can claim responsibility for a few new bug reports related to the whole “done isn’t really done” thing.


For home use, I couple the Mozy solution with my own patented Scattered Home Backups method. Works well for me.

For work, I think I like the MozyPro option, but am still getting the hang of it.

Anything you’d like to add to the above? Drop a comment — I’m all ears!

[image from NelgNL]