Setting up a backup rotation with Windows Server Backup - 06 Mar 2009

One of the biggest changes to the default backup utility in Windows Server 2008, as compared to earlier versions, is that you can no longer backup to tape drive. Scheduled backups can only be written to removable disks or DVD drives. Given the limited amount of data that you can store on a DVD, it is most likely that your scheduled backups will be written to removable disks.

Which brings up an interesting problem. What steps do you need to take to set up removable disks in a library so that you can rotate them off site as a part of your disaster recovery plan? As any systems administrator knows, if you leave your backups in the same place that your server is, a disaster that destroys the server is probably going to destroy the backups as well.

When you set up the original scheduled backup job, you need to specify all the target removable disks that you will use as a part of a rotation. If you only have fewer USB slots than you have removable disks, you can go back and edit the job to add more removable disks so that all of them are prepared to accept backups. This allows you to add and remove removable media from the backup rotation at a later state.

Backups will only be written to the first available media in the listed pool. So if you have an internal disk and an external disk, the backup will be written to the first disk in the list (probably the internal disk) only. If you have two external disks connected, the backup will only be written to one of them. Ensure that only one backup disk target is connected at a time. When you rotate the media, just disconnect the existing drive and reconnect the replacement.

Keep in mind that a full backup will be written to each disk and then incremental backups after that. When you perform a recovery, you’ll only need to attach one disk – you won’t need to go hunting around for other disks (of course if you have a file that was only written to one backup disk, you’ll have to be sure that’s the one that you have attached when you attempt a restore!)

In a future post I’m going to talk about some of the exciting features that will be included with Windows Server Backup in W2K8R2 – including features such as scheduled backups to network shares and incremental system state backups

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