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  1. #1
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    (SOLVED) Backup to network location when available/attached

    Hi. Can anyone here suggest a backup program that:

    • can backup (not just file sync) to a network drive or FTP location
    • wait silently if/when the target location is not available/accessible, until the location is available to perform the backup, without popping up error messages (or prepare the backup files at a temporary location and then transfer them when the location is available)?
    • is suitable for a home networked environment (I'm happy to pay money for software licences, but don't want to buy more hardware or convert my desktop computer to Windows Server)


    Scenario: My wife is a part-time teacher, and has a personal laptop that she uses for both professional and personal purposes, but at home she might only use it 1-3 times per week not every day. We have a NAS at home (QNAP, lower end of their range) that is on 24x7 and that we use for backups of our desktop computer. I'd like to set her laptop up to do regular automatic regular backups when she's at home (and hence can access the NAS), but I don't want it popping up error messages if she's using the laptop at school where our NAS is unreachable.

    If it has to be manually triggered when the laptop is at home, then it's unlikely to be done regularly or consistently.
    Because the NAS is generally on 24x7 at home, so it should be ok to use "we've connected to the home network" as part of the trigger. Her work doesn't offer any backup/recovery or file storage.

    I've found one or two file-synchronisation tools that look like they'd do the job. But for a few reasons I really want this to be a proper backup solution, not just file sync. It occurred to me that I could do file-sync to an area on our desktop computer and then trigger a backup from there, but that seems inefficient.

    Can anyone offer any ideas for suitable solutions? Thanks!

    (If it makes any difference: wife's laptop is Win8.1 but will move to Win10 eventually, has separate accounts for admin/work/personal use. Desktop computer is Win7. NAS is a QNAP TS-212E with network file shares and FTP capability. Home network is usual mix of gigabit ethernet and wireless.)
    Last edited by Paddles; 2015-11-10 at 07:50. Reason: Marked as solved manually, so that thread doesn't lock

  2. #2
    Silver Lounger wavy's Avatar
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    EDIT

    I thought this was going to work for you but I can not see how to detect a network path w/o out a script


    Untitled.png

    Check out task scheduler.
    David

    Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.

  3. #3
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    Schedule the backup program to run every hour with the destination set to the network path. If the path is not available the software will log the error.
    You will probably have to purchase a backup program to get the scheduler.

    cheers, Paul

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    I don't normally recommend backup schemes that include unlimited retries on errors or unavailable resources. Bad things tend to happen when you use such tools.

    The problem comes about when you have a job. Think of it as a logical unit of work, "One Backup". If you automate this with a scheduler, you may run this perhaps once per day. OK, but let's suppose your NAS is offline for a week. Your job scheduler has launched 7 jobs and they are all sitting there, waiting for the NAS to come online. If it comes online after a week of downtime, one of 2 things will happen. Either:

    1). All 7 pending jobs run in parallel. At best this overwhelms your systems with massive amounts of I/O. At worst the jobs may write to the exact same folder locations and you may well get file locks, overwrites and lots of errors or bizarre behaviour;
    2). All 7 pending jobs run in sequence. The massive I/O still happens but it happens sequentially. You will probably find that the whole string of jobs takes hours longer than it ought to. At best you notice the problem and kill all but one of the jobs. Worst case scenario, it takes so long that the next day's backup job begins before the last of the pending jobs completes. Or you fill your NAS with redundant backups.

    This is not to say that retries are bad, in fact I very much like a system that won't halt on the first error it encounters. However keep it reasonable!

    As for tools, I rather like RoboCopy. It's very powerful. The one thing you have to watch out with RoboCopy is that by default, it retries 1 million times. IMO this is completely ridiculous under most use cases.

    It's easy to correct this behaviour though:

    RoboCopy C:\SomeStuff Q:\Destination *.* /e /r:10
    That gives you 10 retries on any failure, then RoboCopy continues on to the next object to be backed up (it does NOT halt the entire backup job).

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    Any backup program worth its salt will fail the backup, log an error and close, not keep running just in case.

    cheers, Paul

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    WS Lounge VIP mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paddles View Post
    I've found one or two file-synchronisation tools that look like they'd do the job. But for a few reasons I really want this to be a proper backup solution, not just file sync. It occurred to me that I could do file-sync to an area on our desktop computer and then trigger a backup from there, but that seems inefficient.
    Actually, this sounds like a good way to do it:
    • The backup would get done.
    • You would have an additional copy of her data on the desktop.
    • Her laptop wouldn't be tied up while the backup is occurring, because the desktop copy of her data is what would be backed up, not the data on her laptop.
    Last edited by mrjimphelps; 2015-10-06 at 12:25.

  8. #7
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    Backups haven't tied up the machine since MS built VSS into Windows - about 10 years ago.

    cheers, Paul

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    WS Lounge VIP mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul T View Post
    Backups haven't tied up the machine since MS built VSS into Windows - about 10 years ago.

    cheers, Paul
    I know about VSS, because for the past 9 years my job has involved Legato Networker tape backups! But for some reason that never occurred to me.

    Are the VSS snapshots continually available, or are they made on-demand? And if on-demand, how long would it take for the snapshot to be made?

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    They are on demand and time depends on what you are snapping, but it doesn't affect PC use from my experience.

    I haven't used Legato for a long time, probably because I haven't had a say in what backup app is purchased.

    cheers, Paul

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    One additional point. Errors in a network backup can dramatically increase the usual time it takes to perform a backup. If the same logical problem causes each file to fail on the same error message, and your backup consists of thousands of files, and you have a system setup to retry each file multiple times, and there also is a pause between each retry...

    Your backup is going to take forever, as in you'll probably have to terminate the job.

    The Windows Job Scheduler has an option to kill a job if it takes more than a defined total amount of time. This is a good way to handle this situation.

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    I use Bvckup 2 (www.bvckup2.com). Just $19.95 for personal use and I think it will do everything you want - and discreetly and seamlessly. At least, it does for me. Cheers!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul T View Post
    Schedule the backup program to run every hour with the destination set to the network path. If the path is not available the software will log the error.
    You will probably have to purchase a backup program to get the scheduler.

    cheers, Paul
    That's interesting thinking. Certainly Task Scheduler can be set to also require being attached to a particular network (or a network in general, although this doesn't apply to my scenario) as a condition for running the job. I'll need to experiment with the appropriate settings to ensure that a missed or failed backup is retried every hour (assuming not still in progress!) but once a backup is successful, it waits for the desired default type/frequency (full/differential/incremental, daily/weekly/whatever) not for another hour in the future - otherwise I'm getting the disadvantages of backup combined with the disadvantages of sync. If anyone has already solved this problem, would be glad to see it - otherwise will post a follow-up if I'm successful.

    If it works, it also means I can just purchase another licence of the backup software I'm already using (Backup4All, for the record) on my desktop computer.

    Quote Originally Posted by mrjimphelps View Post
    Actually, this sounds like a good way to do it:
    • The backup would get done.
    • You would have an additional copy of her data on the desktop.
    • Her laptop wouldn't be tied up while the backup is occurring, because the desktop copy of her data is what would be backed up, not the data on her laptop.
    Yes, but it introduces another dependency/point of failure - doesn't work if the desktop computer is off/unavailable, and doubles the amount of network usage. Sort of defeats the purpose of having a NAS.

    Quote Originally Posted by donclarkson View Post
    I use Bvckup 2 (www.bvckup2.com). Just $19.95 for personal use and I think it will do everything you want - and discreetly and seamlessly. At least, it does for me. Cheers!
    I had a look at it, as far as I can tell it doesn't meet either of my key criteria. It detects attached storage (as do many other similar programs, some free) but not network devices, and it only does file mirroring, not backup.

    Still, grateful for any other suggestions.

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    The next schedule will re-run the same job, but if the job is an incremental backup it won't do much.

    cheers, Paul

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paddles View Post

    I use Bvckup 2
    I had a look at it, as far as I can tell it doesn't meet either of my key criteria. It detects attached storage (as do many other similar programs, some free) but not network devices, and it only does file mirroring, not backup.
    What sort of an amateur job it would've been if it couldn't wait for a network device? :)
    Of course, it can do that - http://i.imgur.com/M1emYy1.png

    With regards to the mirroring vs. backup - this depends on what exact type of backup your are after, but the app does indeed default to mirroring. It can however be set up to archive past copies if needed.

    * My apologies for barging in like this, but I just happen to be uniquely qualified to comment on this app, because I wrote the damn thing.

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    We use Macrium Reflect free version. This page of their user guide makes interesting reading:
    http://knowledgebase.macrium.com/dis...ns+For+Backups

    Here's a feature comparison chart (scroll halfway down the page):
    http://www.macrium.com/reflectfree.aspx
    Last edited by starvinmarvin; 2015-10-08 at 14:34. Reason: added feature comparison link

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