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I am looking for a fully-automated, bare-metal, incremental backup to NAS solution for 10+ computers running Windows 7 Professional. (None of the computers I'm backing up host server or database applications.) Right now the best option looks like Windows 7's native backup utility. I'm not sure if that can provide bare-metal backups to a NAS. From what I understand, Windows VSS requires direct access to the backup medium.

Is it possible to write bare-metal backups of Windows 7 machines to a shared NAS using Windows 7's native backup utility? If not, is it possible to create full-volume backups of Windows 7 machines by storing them on a NAS connected via iSCSI to a server running SBS 2011 Essentials?

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are you asking for a bare metal backup (meaning the entire OS) or just files? –  Eric C. Singer Jan 12 '12 at 0:50
    
@EricC.Singer - bare metal. –  Brandon Lebedev Jan 12 '12 at 16:50
    
*After more research: Any native Windows Backup solution (Server 2008, Win 7, and others) requires the backup disk to be directly attached to the system in order to perform incremental backups. Full-metal recovery enabled backups are availiable regardless of the storage solution. –  Brandon Lebedev Jan 17 '12 at 0:41

4 Answers 4

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Have a look at Windows Home Server 2011. The backup functionality is actually very good (block-level de-duplicated backups of the clients with a nice UI to allow users to perform recovery and a bare-metal restore option with a bootable CD image for recovery) and you don't necessarily have to use any of the rest of the product. You can backup 10 clients w/ a single license. My only wish w/ the product was that it could join an Active Directory domain. I'd jump at the chance to purchase the backup functionality of this product in a standalone product (are you listening, Microsoft?) because the price / performance blows similar competing products out of the water.

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1) Is the same functionality available on SBS 2011 Essentials? I need room to back up more machines in the future. 2) Does the backup feature you describe require the backup disk to be directly connected to the server, or can I attach the backup disk through NAS? –  Brandon Lebedev Jan 12 '12 at 16:59
    
Answer to my own questions: 1) yes and 2) yes. –  Brandon Lebedev Jan 17 '12 at 0:40

Yes, the Windows native backup application needs direct access to the backup medium to store the backup data. And the backup medium should be NTFS drive and should not be a system drive - where the services were installed.

To avoid this, you can automate the Windows native backup application to dump the data to an temporary location in the system and then move them to your NAS.

Or you can use a 3rd party application (like Vembu StoreGrid) to do bare metal backup. Most of the backup softwares support backup to local system itself.

Note: Vembu StoreGrid supports unlimited local backup for bare metal backups for free of cost. If you wish, try that out.

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If you want a free solution UrBackup may be worth looking into. It does not do any deduplication of image backups though - so if your NAS does not do deduplication be prepared for a lot of data. UrBackup does also do file backups, so you should keep your system volume small and backup the rest as files.

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Checkout shadow protect. I haven't done a whole lot of research, but it looks like it can do what you're talking about. It might require a server

http://www.storagecraft.com/shadow_protect_desktop.php

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