Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

i have a client where we have 10 notebook users. we want to back up their email (pst files), no option to install exchange at this location, and a common folder on their notebook named like their userid. It is in this folder that they will save their working documents.

they currently have a windows 2003 server just set up as a workgroup, there is no option to set up a domain since the employees buy their own notebooks and we have to use what they get. Typically it will be windows xp and Windows 7 business. (i can't get everyone to agree to join the domain since it is used for business and personal use too, i know it is not a good thing to work this way but this is what i have to deal with)

my concern is pst open files and missed backups, i was leaning towards something like deltacopy but it will not do open pst files. is there a best practices approach to this scenario, i can't take that much time to baby sit the backups, i just expect people to let the backup finish but there has been occasion where they have stopped it since it interfered with the "other" work they were doing.

any suggestions or help since this is becoming frustrating to police. thanks

share|improve this question
this is what i came up with if anyone is looking for something or an idea to use. -for pst files i will use ntbackup to back up just the pst files (this allows outlook to continue working and relies on volume shadow copy for open files). It will copy or write the bkf file to a folder under their userid in the c drive. -run delta copy on the server and on the users notebook as a client. Deltacopy is rsync for windows, it will back up on the portion of the file that changes. I tested with pst files and ti only copied the difference in the pst file not the whole 3gb file, really fast and tested. – user8256 Dec 13 '09 at 21:33
backups will be done at 9am and 2pm, hoping to catch the user at their cubicle during these time – user8256 Dec 13 '09 at 21:34
here is an update to what we have migrated to in the last 2 months, symantec backup, works well, small footprint, only does the changes to a standalone server, works with open files and open pst fiels for outlook, takes only the diff changes that are in the pst file from the previous backup, we have tested dumping and restoring and everything works perfectly. – dasko Aug 13 '11 at 20:34
IMO PST files on end user's are the beginning of the end of reliable and controllable e mail. In this situation I would deploy Hosted Exchange or Google Apps and shift the onus of 99.99% reliability onto the vendor. With 25GB mailboxes there is no reason for PST files. – Dom Oct 8 '11 at 7:12
As an aside: VSS needs plugins for databases to be in a sane state at the time of the snapshot, for example the SQL Writer VSS plugin. I'm pretty sure there are no Outlook VSS plugins, and I'd like to see proof that VSS causes Outlook to put the PST file in a stable state before the snapshot is taken, otherwise you're just left backing up a database that could contain corruption (and we've all had to run ScanPST.exe before : ) – Dom Oct 8 '11 at 7:15
up vote 0 down vote accepted

Assuming the disks are NTFS formatted, a file copy program that uses the Volume Shadow Copy Service can backup snapshots of open files, such as the pst file. I personally use SyncBackSE, which can e.g. email failure reports, but if all you want is a basic open file copy then I believe Microsoft's SyncToy is also VSS aware. Wrap the copy command in a batch file that first checks whether they are they on the office LAN, so you don't start a backup over the internet when they are firing up their notebook at home. Launch that bach file from an appropriate trigger using the task manager (e.g. 10 minutes after logon)

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.