How To Back Up WHS Folders to External Drives

Here's how to back up shared Windows Home Server folders to an external hard drive.

4 Min Read
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You've got to be ready for a data catastrophe. If you don't want to spend a lot of money using an off-site cloud solution, backing up to an external drive the old fashioned way is just as effective and costs less. Here's how to back up important files and folders from Windows Home Server to an external hard drive.

First, go to your Windows Home Server PC, plug in an external hard drive, and power it on. Then go to one of the PCs on your network where you have the Windows Home Server Console installed and launch it from a desktop shortcut or the Start menu.

When the WHS Console opens, click on Server Storage and you'll see the drive you just connected to it. Its status will be listed as Not Added. Right-click on the external hard drive and select Add.

This will launch the Hard Drive Wizard. Click Next.

On the next screen of the wizard, select Use this hard drive to back up files that are stored on your home server, and click Next.

Note: Don't select the top option as it will add the drive to your storage pool.

If the hard drive is not yet formatted, select Yes, format this hard drive. Windows will automatically format it for you. In the example below, my drive was already formatted and had other files backed up to it, so I selected No, preserve the existing files on this hard drive. Click Next.

Now give the hard drive a memorable name. Here I typed in WHS Backup but you can name it whatever you want. Then click Next.

The next two screens will show the hard drive being successfully added. Click Finish, and then Done.

Under Server Storage, you'll see the drive listed under Server Backup Hard Drives along with its Capacity, Location, and Status. Now, click on the first menu selection, Computers & Backup, and right-click on your server. Select Backup Now.

On the next screen you'll see a list of the shared folders on your server. Decide which ones you want to backup and change the Destination to the external drive. If you want it to remember the settings for future backups select that option and click Backup Now.

The backup process kicks off and you can monitor the progress while it takes place. The amount of time it takes will vary depending on how much data you’re backing up.

Large amounts of data can take several hours, so you can click the Hide button and minimize WHS Console to do other tasks on your computer. If you need to stop the backup for any reason you can do that by clicking the Stop button.

When the backup completes successfully, click on Close.

Back in the WHS Console, you will see the server files and folders have been backed up with the current time and date.

If there are errors during the backup, the files that weren't backed up will be displayed in the message field. Below you see that some of my files did not back up. Take note of these so you can go in and manually back them up if you need to.

Now, I advise disconnecting the external drive. In the WHS console, right-click on it and select Remove.

Another dialog box is displayed, asking what you want to do with your external hard drive. You can select to temporarily remove it, or stop using it for server backups. If you're going to use this external drive for future backups, select to temporarily remove it. If you are done with it, then select stop using it and click OK.

Now power off the external drive and disconnect it from your server. Make sure to store the drive in a safe place to ensure your data is protected. One thing I do after backing up my server is use the archaic yet reliable "sneakernet" and take the external drive to a trusted neighbor or family member's house. This way all of my data isn't in the same place.

In the unfortunate event something goes wrong with my server and I need to recover the data, at least my data is covered! When your files are backed up on an external drive, you can plug the drive into any computer on your network and recover them.

Brian Burgess is the founding executive editor at BYTE. Follow him @mysticgeek. Got a comment or idea? Send it to him at [email protected].


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