Friday, April 16, 2010

Online Backup Solution for Windows Home Server with CrashPlan Central

For months I've been looking for a way to backup my HP MediaSmart 485 Window Home Server so that I'd be safe if it crashed. I use my Windows Home Server (WHS) for backing my laptop, and desktop and also for storing all my movies, music, software, etc. but what happens when the server goes down? Sure my WHS has 3 drives installed and Windows software RAIDs my files across at least 2 of those drives, but it would be nice to have some offsite storage solution - at least for ease of mind.

A quick Google search pointed me to someone who installed CrashPlan on their Windows Home Server and then used CrashPlan Central, their online offering, to successfully backup files. That same week I had been playing around with CrashPlan Pro, the business version, so I decided to give it a try.

CrashPlan Central has a free trial for 30 days and their standard backup client is free with no limitations so I figured, why not try it? I downloaded the Windows client which works for Windows 2003 and installed it on my Windows Home Server. Then I followed these instructions for creating a batch file for mounting the drives.

Essentially here's what you do:

  1. Log onto your Home Server
  2. Install the Windows CrashPlan client
  3. In the client on the Backup screen, click CrashPlan Central and setup your free 30 day trial
  4. Create a directory on one of your drives (preferably C:), the instructions call it mount. (example I use C:\cpo - aka crash plan online)
  5. Create a new batch file called "mount.bat" - or something else to your liking. I use the name cpo.bat. You can do this by creating a text file and then changing the extension from .txt to .bat, assuming you have the option switched to see extensions.
  6. Open / edit the batch file and add the following code:

echo %date% %time% : "%cd%\mount.bat" >> c:\mount\mount.log

timeout /t 60

echo "Mounting U with \\server\music" >> c:\mount\mount.log

net use U: \\server\Music /USER:server\Administrator <pw> /persistent:no >> c:\mount\mount.log 2>&1 2>&1

  1. You'll want to edit the "echo" line so that it matches your server. For example I started mounting with the drive letter F; I changed "server" to my servername and then replaced "<pw>" with my actual password.
  2. Copy and paste the "echo" line as many times as you'd like to mount as many drives as you'd like. Just remember to repeat step 7 for each of the lines otherwise you'll be mounting the same drive over and over again!
  3. Save and close your mount.bat file.
  4. Create a task in Windows Scheduler (found in C:\Windows\Tasks) to run your new mount.bat file when the computer starts.
    1. Double click on Add Scheduled Task
    2. Click next and browse to your mount.bat file and open it
    3. You can keep the default name of the schedule but set it to run "When my computer starts" and click next
    4. In the User Name field enter: NT Authority\System and leave the password fields blanks and click next
    5. Click open the box next to "Open advanced properties for this tab"
    6. Under the settings tab click "Stop the task if it runs for:" and set it to about 5 minutes
    7. Click OK or Apply and when you restart your computer all your drives will be mounted
  5. Once your Windows Home Server has rebooted, open the CrashPlan client
  6. On the Backup tab is an area called "Files to Back Up" where you can add each of your newly mounted drivers
  7. Now start backing up!

With about 10 days left on my trial I paid for the full version of CrashPlan Central which runs about $50/year. That seemed like a relatively low price for knowing at least some of my data was backed up off site.

Note: After the trial period ended, I noticed I no longer had the ability to restore files from the website. They don't really tell you this but it only comes with the CrashPlan + upgrade which runs about another $50.


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Crashplan is the good backup service provider. It provides the backup in most of the environment like window, Mac OS, Linux. It also provide the platform for the iOS. It provides the real time updating that is the bright side of this backup.

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