Windows Backup Choices: Where do you want to store your backups?

I am setting up backups for a couple of servers (Windows 2008 R2). When I was configuring Windows Backup, a window opened (screen shot attached) asking me if I want to A) "Backup to a hard disk that is dedicated for backups (recommended)
Then says hard disc will be formatted and dedicated to only store backups. B) Back up to a volume that is not dedicated to backups.

Does this really make a difference?  I am using a hard drive that already is dedicated to backups but I can't choose A) since it will reformat the disc. Don't know if MS gave this enough thought.  Please advise.  thanks

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Glen KnightConnect With a Mentor Commented:
It does make a difference because if you dedicate a hard disk to it then the hard disk will be formatted in small volumes for each backup and only available to the backup software.

If you chose volume backups then this will create a backup file and place it on the volume.

Obviously if you are using this volume for other things then it wil lhave a negative impact on performance during the backup window.
PDSWSSAuthor Commented:
Thanks. Please clarify what they mean by formatting in small volumes. Does this mean that part of the disc is formatted every time you make a backup?

If I choose the first choice, format - Will it reformat the entire volume and erase my other backups or only format the part of the volume that is still available?
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
If I'm not mistaken, a dedicated disk does not get a drive letter - I can see this being more secure and better protected from viruses and the like...
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Glen KnightCommented:
The disk is formatted in to small volumes and they are in RAW format (I think) so you don't have any access to them.

If you chose the first choice, it will delete the volume that is on that disk and repartition it, you will lose all data on that drive.
PDSWSSAuthor Commented:
You say "you don't have any access to them."  But of course I would have access to the backup files. Just wouldn't have access to save anything else, correct?

Are the backup files the same in both instances (dedicated vs. volume) or are they different types of files? thanks
Glen KnightCommented:
The Backup Disk (the first option) are not assigned a drive letter, they are broken down to individual volumes for each backup, so no, you won't be able to save anythingelse on them

The backup to volume is a file based backup.
Seth SimmonsConnect With a Mentor Sr. Systems AdministratorCommented:
When you create a scheduled backup and opt to use a dedicated disk, you need to already have the disk formatted NTFS (don't bother assigning drive letter) else it won't appear in the destination options.  When you select that disk for backups, it will tell you it will be formatted for that use and (if you selected full server) it will tell you that dedicated volume is included in the full backup and asks if you want to exclude (which of course you do).  The volume is formatted NTFS with no drive letter by the backup utility and if you did assign a letter to look at it, it has a WindowsImageBackup folder, then below another folder with the computer name, then below the backup date and time.  The backup file (VHD) are in that folder.

Selecting backup to a folder is generally the same except it doesn't format the volume.  The folder structure is the same.
PDSWSSAuthor Commented:
"you that dedicated volume is included in the full backup and asks if you want to exclude (which of course you do)."
What do you mean by "if you want to exclude?" Exclude what?

Could this dedicated backup drive be used as a destination for SQL Server Maintenance Plan backups or only Windows Backups. Thanks
Glen KnightCommented:
It can only be used for Windows Backups if you are using dedicated disk, if you use Option 2 than it can be used for SQL backups as well.
Seth SimmonsSr. Systems AdministratorCommented:
When you select full server, it includes all volumes, system state, system reserved, bare metal recovery.  All volumes includes that volume for backups.  It will ask if you want to exclude that volume, which is what you need to do.

If you want to add SQL backups, then the backup option you want is to a volume, not a dedicated disk. You can still use that separate disk, just assign a letter to it.  The folder structure is the same.  You can then add SQL backup if you like; just don't put in same folder.
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