One of my mottos has always been: “You cannot have enough backup!”. So, I am always investigating and testing backup software. When Microsoft first releasd Windows Home Server (WHS), I knew that this was a product I would be testing. Well, tonight, it saved my bacon!
My own SBS 2003 server that has been running for years experienced a serious hard drive failure. Fortunately I do use Raid-5 disk configuration. So I shut down the server, replaced the drive, fired up the server to rebuild the Raid, and then rebooted. But apparently something else was amiss, as Windows would not boot up properly, reporting a failure or corruption with Active Directory. After trying a couple of other options unsuccessfully, I decided to see if WHS would get me back online.
So, I pulled out my WHS Restore CD and booted my server off the CD. However, it did not load a driver for my NIC card. No problem, as I knew the drill: go to another workstation, fire up the WHS Console, view the backup directory for the computer in question (my SBS server), and copy the contents of the WHS Drivers for Recovery folder to a USB thumb drive, and rename the folder to DRIVERS. I then took the thumb drive back to the server, where the WHS restore screen has a convenient button to install additional drivers. An hour later my server was back online and operational!
Lessons learned? There are lots of vendors offering backup software solutions for the Windows marketplace. I have used Acronis, ShadowProtect, and others. These are all good products. But WHS is a real winner for me, and for many of my small business customers. I have WHS installed and backing up both SBS 2003 and SBS 2008 servers, plus serveral peer-to-peer networks. It just works! It has even recovered a Windows 7 Beta laptop for me!
Now, someone may say that offsite (or remote online) backups are required, and I would not argue that point at all. Remember: I believe in multiple levels of backup solutions. But for the small business and home environments, WHS is an excellent backup software solution.