Windows Backup and Restore – A quick run down
While it’s not a popular choice of many IT professionals; Windows Backup and Restore has been in Windows installations since Windows Vista and Server 2008.
We’re not going to sit here and say it’s an all-encompassing backup and restore solution. It has a lot of flaws and limitations. However; it is still useful for getting a quick backup or to tide a business over while implementing a permanent backup software solution.
What exactly is Windows Backup and Restore?
As mentioned above; Windows Backup and Restore is a feature that’s available with Windows operating systems. It’s also known by names like Windows Server Backup, Windows Backup and System Image Backup. It originally appeared around 2007/20008 within Windows Vista and Server 2008 as a direct replacement for the legacy backup tool packaged with Windows up until Server 2003 – NTBackup.
One of the biggest improvements which Windows Backup had over it’s predecessors is it’s improved ability to complete a full bare metal recovery of a system.
It’s interface is also simple and easy to use – however this does also lead us onto the next section.
Let’s be honest; Microsoft’s core business is to build operating systems. It’s no mean feat as there’s a lot to go into such a piece of software. While the backup side of things is just a minor part overall; they’ve included a solution that works for the most part. However; there are limitations which mean that it’s not the ideal solution for all businesses running Windows environments.
While it’s fairly robust backing up to local media and storage, WSB isn’t as effective when writing to a network destination. The main reason for this is that previous backups are stored as VSS snapshots which are typically not supported on most common NAS devices. The resulting affect is that all backups are a full backup (utilising more space then is really necessary), and also limiting the number of restore points.
Another common scenario which can catch people out is using RDX drive as a backup destination. When backing up to an RDX cartridge; compression causes the backup .vhd file to be unmountable. This results in no ability for individual file restore – a fairly big gap in any backup strategy.
It also lacks the reporting and monitoring capabilities of other backup software available to businesses. There is also no native tape backup support from Microsoft; which NTBackup did provide.
Alternative Backup Software
As mentioned above; backup and recovery isn’t a high focus or priority for Microsoft. However; they’re unwillingness to go into the backup and recovery market has allowed others to do so.
Some alternative backup solutions are:
Veeam: Provide a version of their software which allows for a limited amount of data to be protected for free. Provide solutions for businesses from SMB all the way to enterprise. Regarded as the best backup solution on the market by IT professionals.
ShadowProtect: Developed by StorageCraft; provides full bare metal recovery as well as file based restore. Mainly focused on the IT sector on it’s design – meaning that it’s not ideal for novice or non-technical users.
BackupAssist: A solution that actually uses Windows Backup and Recovery as it’s backbone. Works at fixing the limitations mentioned above; and packages it within the one application. Aimed at that Small to Medium Business market.
Acronis True Image: Disk imaging software which allows for bare metal recovery using it’s own proprietary imaging engine. Home and business versions available for purchase.
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