One of the short comings of the original 32 bit Windows Home Server (WHS) for me was the lack of any built in tools to backup the primary WHS boot drive. While using a RAID 1 boot drive would protect me from a disk drive crash, it didn’t offer the capability to “rewind” back to a former backup copy to fix a system drive corruption issue. To compound the problem, my favorite Windows disk image backup utility doesn’t support server based operating systems, presumably because they have a higher cost enterprise class version they sell into the classic server markets.
So for most of us, the problem remains on how to easily backup and restore the primary boot volume of the WHS server or upgrading the entire server hardware without losing the current WHS configuration. The good news is that backup and restore for a primary boot drive becomes significantly easier when you are running as a virtual machine. Better still, these come for free if implementing WHS on VMware’s ESXi hypervisor as illustrated in At Home with ESXi posted earlier.
Additional Backup Options Provided by a WHS ESXi Setup
With VMware ESXi, you automatically get two ways to create backups of your primary home server boot drive via the vSphere utility run from your regular PC:
- Snapshot – takes a point in time copy of the complete WHS virtual machine on the same physical drive as the primary WHS boot image. Total time around 3 mins and take as many as you have room for on the disk.
- Full Image Copy – the complete WHS virtual machine is copied via the network to your local PC or a network drive. Total time will be several hours depending on your network speed (70GBytes take a while to copy across home network)