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Is there a way to automatically backup a computer every X period of time through terminal services?

Posted on 2008-10-28
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There is an office out of town that connects through terminal services (which is located at the central office).
I want to know is there a way through terminal services to automatically backup this computer every X number of days/weeks. If there is how would I set it up, if it is not what way would you prefer to setup a schedule backup onto the terminal services server (PC Anywhere?...etc).

Terminal Services Information:
Windows Server 2003 R2
Standard X64 Edition
SP2

Any help would be great!
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Question by:JohnnyBCJ
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by:plug1
ID: 22822997
You want to backup a remote PC that connects to the network via terminal services on to the terminal server? Unless you have excellant bandwith between the PC and the server then its not going to happen Im afraid and certainly not via any feature of TS (there isnt one).

If the PC uses the Terminal server for all of its important work then I would simply take an image of that PC and copy it onto a DVD or memory stick. Use this to restore it, if it has other data to be backed up then I would use an external hard disk and NTBACKUP to back it up nightly.
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by:JohnnyBCJ
ID: 22823110
The goal is to be able to create back ups on a daily/weekly basis without having to drive 6+ hours each way to get back ups out of the office. The goal isn't to simply create the backups but to get the back ups to the main office (which is where I am located to).

From my current understanding the computer does most of it's important work on terminal services but also needs to use software that is on the computer itself. If there is no feature for terminal services to provide an automatic backup what software would you recommend to accomplish a scheduled (nightly or weekly) backup from the office we are getting the back ups out of to the main office where we want to have the back ups stored.

Lets assume the computer we are backing up has a 40 gig hard drive. What type of bandwidth would you consider to be "excellent" to require such a task?
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by:plug1
ID: 22823161
You can work out how long it will take to transfer the data yourself by copying a 50 meg file or so across the net and timing it , then scale it up. You really need to create a VPN between the PC and the server (this may already be the case) so that files can be dumped over it. Once thats inplace simply map a network drive to the server and use ntbackup on the client PC to backup to a file on that network drive. Schedule it to run over a weekend starting early friday night.

If theres too much data then only backup whats important.
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by:JohnnyBCJ
ID: 22824424
I will test it out and get back to you plug1.

I think this will work but I am not 100% certain if remote assistance is required or not (I can't why it would be required except for the fact that you'd be able to see it working but all you really need to do is check the modified date of the backup file).
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by:plug1
ID: 22827122
No worries, let me know how you get on...
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by:JohnnyBCJ
ID: 22830884
Here is the update (which is news to me):
The office that we are trying to backup is currently not on our system (therefore I cannot map a drive to the server). The goal is to get a backup of their computer(s) and get it sent to the main office (6 hours away) automatically on a daily/weekly basis without having to drive back and forth. I believe weekly should be fine. Any other ideas? Does PC Anywhere have features to do automatic back ups?
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by:plug1
ID: 22831195
The only way you are going to do this is to configure a site to site VPN between your and thier sites. Once thats in place than configure as above.

Without the VPN the backup data cannot be transferred to your site without third party website software etc and that wont be scheduled.

One other thing you could do though is sign up for an online backup solution like http://www.clunkclick.net/ and schedule backups to there, that way it can be retored to anywhere.. now that Ive said it that sounds like the way forward..
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by:PaperTiger
ID: 22834688
I am going to question a little more on the objectives.

1. is there anybody using this PC or is it just a stand alone PC/server?
2. what kind of information do you REALLY need? certainly not the full backup.
3. If you do need the full backup, what's purpose of the need?
4. why is it so important to have the backup back to the main office?

---------

Now, to do what you want to do - running backup over a WAN is almost unheard of unless you have a LOT of bandwidth. On a good T1, 1.5mbps, assuming 40GB data, compressed to 20GB, that will take you almost 26 hours if my math is right.

Maybe you can elaborate a little more on your objectives.
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by:plug1
ID: 22836852
1: - Yes, its been answered
2: - They need all changed information as its used, its been answered
3: - as above ( to restore the pc if it dies)
4: - because the remote site is 6 hours away ( its been answered)


.. I dont know if its the same on your planet but theres over 48 hours in my weekends..

.. anyway, online backup to  a 3rd party would work as they only use incrementals.
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by:PaperTiger
ID: 22836915
2. so you also need the swap file windows generates or Windows system files? Not likely. Be more specific. What information exactly?
3. To restore the PC, why not keep a local copy? Why is it so important to get to the office?

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by:lmkandia
ID: 22838084
If I might interject.
Is this Terminal Server part of a domain?
If so, I propose DFS and snapshot.

DFS comes free with Windows (you may need to install it), but the Terminal Server would have to be part of a domain (I believe) in order to take part in the following scheme:
Setup DFS on your local server.
Setup DFS on your remote Terminal server.
http://www.experts-exchange.com/OS/Microsoft_Operating_Systems/Server/2003_Server/Q_22590431.html
Get the two talking with the primary site being the TS site.
You will push changes in a TS directory eventually to a local directory using DFS.
Let's say that you get that external 500GB drive.
You create a folder in there called "backups".
Then you purchase a copy of SNAPSHOT.
http://www.drivesnapshot.de/en/
There isn't a better and most cost effective backup program on the planet.
It weighs in at 256KB.  Truly amazing.
It will backup your server's drive and compress the backup into chunks (1GB is the default).
To keep things simple, you will create a weekly full backup followed by a daily incremental backup.  The full backup will take the longest to propagate, but hey you've got a whole weekend to do it!  The daily backups during the week can then be backed up over DFS at night.  Those backups will be much smaller in comparison to the full weekly one.

DFS of course will do the copying for you.  The "Backups" directory will be the one that DFS will replicate between the two sites.  You can schedule DFS to run ONLY at night and weekends, thereby leaving your bandwidth during the daytime for important stuff, like BitTorrent :)
And of course if snapshot isn't to your liking, then you could fill the "backups" folder with NTBACKUPs.
 
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by:plug1
ID: 22839236
Its not the terminal server he wants to backup!! Its the remote pc thats using the terminal server!
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by:JohnnyBCJ
ID: 22839416
PaperTiger:
I am going to question a little more on the objectives.

1. is there anybody using this PC or is it just a stand alone PC/server?
2. what kind of information do you REALLY need? certainly not the full backup.
3. If you do need the full backup, what's purpose of the need?
4. why is it so important to have the backup back to the main office?
==================================================================
Here are the answers:
1. Yes there is. Will they take part of this back up process? No. We do not want this process to be person-related (we need this to be an automatic process to avoid the famous 'oops I forgot....'). We need a way to back up this computer and make sure that it's being backup successfully on a daily or weekly basis (If anything else it'll be weekly).

2, Yes, I need a full backup. In case the computer dies I need to be able to get it back up and running ASAP.

3. This one computer (from my current understanding at this time which could be wrong - only basing it on what is here at the main office), has all the programs that the other 5 or 6 computers run off of. All information is saved on this one computer. This computer is not connected to the main office by terminal services (which is news to me). Lets assume that the drive we need to backup is 40 gigs. It could be more or less.

4. The location is 6 hours away to drive. If something would happen to this computer (between lets say between January and June) we would almost be forced make the 6 hour drive into more like 6 minutes. This single computer is what holds the programs and the data that all the other computers use to perform daily operations. If the hard drive dies in this computer the whole office may as well be shut down.
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by:JohnnyBCJ
ID: 22839451
PaperTiger:
2. so you also need the swap file windows generates or Windows system files? Not likely. Be more specific. What information exactly?
3. To restore the PC, why not keep a local copy? Why is it so important to get to the office?
==============================================================================
2. Lets say the hard drive of the computer dies for whatever reason. I need a fool-proof way of getting the computer back ASAP.

3. What happens if the office burns down? The entire purpose of this is to have a complete backup of the hard drive in case the computer dies and have this backup out of the office in case something was to happen to the office itself.
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by:PaperTiger
ID: 22840439
OK..., not sure what you are running on this computer - you may want to explain a little.

Instead of running backups etc, I would just set it up so that users use Terminal Service or Citrix off one machine from your main office. Have another computer on stand-by

That way, there's no need to do backup or drive 6 hours. recovery time would be next to nothing as you can just tell them to plug in the second computer and turn it on.

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by:lmkandia
ID: 22840733
rsync
http://samba.anu.edu.au/rsync/
allways sync
http://www.allwaysync.com/
snapshot
http://www.drivesnapshot.de/en/
Buy a large external drive.  Make a snapshot of the drive.  That will be your base image.  Have it shipped or couriered back to you.  Then make incremental backups using the other two products, which will keep you data files intact.  Done.
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by:PaperTiger
ID: 22840868
I for one do not advocate "incremental backup." Today's hard drive become so large to make "incremental" almost meaningless.

Since most information on a computer do not change often, what i would do, if you truly want to move those backup off-site, is:

1. get a large external drive, and run snapshot with Acronis locally - this should be done quarterly.
2. have them ship the external drive to you once in a while
3. run a small file copy utility (I use HandyBackup) to copy those data changes (again, you need to explain how people use this computer and what information is stored/changed there) to local and main office backup drive nightly.
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plug1 earned 500 total points
ID: 22840963
I dont think you lot are even listening to the poor guy lol. he wants an AUTOMATIC solution that backs up to his REMOTE SERVERS. No couriers, no quarterly, no explanation to users..

No matter what way you look at it you need to use some kind of scheduled backup utility (ntbackup is free) and this back up needs to happen across the WAN, there for you need a VPN in place.

The only other option is as I have said to use an online backup companies product.
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Author Closing Comment

by:JohnnyBCJ
ID: 31510779
I haven't tested it yet and won't be able to test it til next month or so. I'm rewarding you the points for understanding what I meant and coming up with the most logically solution.
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by:PaperTiger
ID: 22869056
i understand what he's trying to do. it's just like someone ask you "how can i drive to London from NYC?"

what would be your answer? you would ask "why would you want to drive there? how about fly there? what's the purpose? is it to drive or to get to London?"
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by:lmkandia
ID: 22869163
I finally got the picture, after reading carefully.  :)  

As I said before, Snapshot and some file syncing utility would be the way to go.
Snapshot the system to a folder.  Use rsync or allways sync to get the snapshot to you.  Over an extended period of time.  Then simply keep track of the changes (differential changes using snapshot).  Don't need a vpn tunnel, IF you know what ports to use.
 And while ntbackup is free, it makes a GIANT single file backup.  Which pales in comparison to snapshots "you tell lme how big you want the backup files to be" feature.

But you do get what you pay for :)
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