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SBS 2011 Backup to USB External Drive

Posted on 2012-08-31
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2016-06-26
I have a BlacX Sata HDD USB Docking station - with a Western Digital 2 TB hard drive plugged into it. I made sure that the drive was formatted NTFS. I plug the drive into the USB port of my server - run the backup wizard - it sees it as Drive 1 - I label it - pick the folders I want to backup - it throws a warning that the destination drive will be formatted - I hit yes - then boom it crashes with a generic error - cannot schedule backup.

I know once the drive has been designated as a backup - you can’t see it via the "computer" in the start menu, but its acting like it doesn't even exist on the server at all.

I tried the wbadmin get disks command - it lists it under the list of drives - I attempted to "addtarget" using the disk identifier as the target info and it states - backup schedule wasn't found. Configure the scheduled backup by adding backup location, volumes to back up, and times of day to run backups ..... Ahhhhhh ..... this is exactly what I'm trying to do!!

I have no idea what is going on here - I'm at my end trying to figure this out - this whole backup scenario is a giant catch 22 for my machine thus far. Any help here would be greatly appreciated!

Question by:wewhitt
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Expert Comment

ID: 38356281

Author Comment

ID: 38364589
Well I reformatted to 512 - as the above link described - the IT writings link was broken so I never did go to this page. The result is the same - crashes the same error - no change what so ever.
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Accepted Solution

pgm554 earned 1500 total points
ID: 38364749
It will not work with 4k drives period,the vhd format is not supported on drives larger than 2tb.

The 512 emulation fixes some alignment issues and that's it.

You need to get a 3rd party back like Acronis,Symantec or Storagecraft.

Or try and find smaller drives that still use 512byte sector count.

Why your new 2TB or 3TB drive will not work with Windows Backup
Posted on March 16, 2012 by Tim      

When Windows Vista and Server 2008 were released, Microsoft turned its back on tape backup. The built-in backup utility only backs up to hard drives. Windows 7 and Server 2008 R2 continue this policy. The recommended strategy for Small Business Server 2008 and 2011, for example, is to have a bunch of external USB drives and to use them in rotation.

Windows Server Backup, and its command-line version wbadmin, work well enough, but users with growing storage requirements have been buying larger external drives. That seems fine: external USB drives with 2TB and 3TB capacities are now commonplace. Except that they often run into problems when used with Windows Server Backup. You might see error 2155348010 or 0x8078002A, or “The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error”, or some other error.

The reason is that most of these large drives have a 4K sector size, rather than the older 512 byte sector size. You can get a patch for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 that fixes most problems, but it does not fix the backup issue.

The further reason is that Windows Server Backup uses VHD virtual drives as its file format. The VHD format presumes the use of 512byte sectors, and the drivers that read and write data are optimised for this. You cannot create or mount VHDs on a disk with 4K sectors.

Some drives have a firmware option to emulate 512byte sectors. These drives work, but with a performance penalty. Western Digital is one such, and you have a WD drive you may be in luck. See this post for details.

What is disappointing here is that these drives are mostly sold without any warning about these compatibility issues. The drive vendors will say that Microsoft should update its backup software; this is correct, but since the problem seems to be inherent to the VHD format it is not trivial to do so.

Another problem is that discovering whether or not the drive you are about to buy has a 4K sector size is not easy. Once purchased, you can find out by attaching the drive. opening an administrative command prompt, and running:

fsutil fsinfo ntfsinfo x:

where x is the drive letter of the target drive. This will show the sector size, and may even include the words “Not supported” in the output.

Windows Server 8 introduces the .VHDX format which both supports larger drives, and also fixes the issues with 4K sector sizes.

Author Comment

ID: 38378319
OK –Trials and tribulations of SBS2011. I have my server’s OS and File management in Raid array’s – the thought of a backup was always …. Yea I can wait. What is a Windows backup really? I mean when you have a raid array – what could go wrong … then enters our accountant.

She gave her password to her secretary while she went on vacation – so that she can “update files” on her computer. She did that – really, really badly. I get the phone call, “I’m sorry …. But I really need this folder from 2 weeks ago.” I couldn’t just go to a backup of 2 weeks ago and get it. What saved her was the fact she is prone to forgetting to save on her share folder. Her secretary was saving the file in her share … the same file on her local machine was from 3 weeks ago, so she was able to recover from there. Even though my budding IT skillset is growing – I learned the importance of backing up files. So, I get my stuff together and start down this path. I figure – this will be easy – I have SBS2011 and an approved backup drive from the Microsoft technet list – should be easy peezy.
Now enters Microsoft – and in their infinite wisdom – wants to take everything and make it an installation wizard. I love wizards – don’t get me wrong – but in this backup scenario – it has been screwing me for 3 days.

The backup wizard in the Windows SBS Console …. Is just wrong. All it gave me was the generic error … “cannot schedule backup” ... as stated in my original post. After trying to apply multiple avenues to get this wizard to work – I just stopped. My suggestion – never use it – use the administrative tool feature of the server to schedule backups … Start > administrative tools > windows server backup. When running the “Backup Schedule” in this area – it is more intuitive, and you can then piece together what part of the “Cannot schedule backup” error is actually breaking.

I’m using a 2TB external hard drive – formatted for NTFS. When you look at it under Start > Administrative tools > Computer management > Storage > Disk management … it is a generic drive labeled with the name you gave it during formatting … and it clearly states NTFS. When you schedule a “backup” ... using the "recommended" setting of the backup disk ... the wizard wants to reformat the drive and turn it into a backup only drive … at which time it will format – then crash almost immediately after stating that only a NTFS drive is supported. I go back into disk management and find that this wizard formatted the drive in “exFat”.  This was my first hurdle to get around. Solution – reformat the drive with the server – this time assign it a drive letter – follow the advice of pgm554 and do only the 512 bytes a sector.

Next – go back into disk management and right click on this thing and make it “active”. This will give you something like … “Backup(E:) Healthy (Active, Primary Partition)”.

Now back to backing up – you can’t do a full backup …
1)      It won’t copy system files and it throws an error.
2)      The drives I’m backing up are over 2TB in size … even though I’m only backing up 300gig of information … the Microsoft wizard chokes with an error saying it cannot guarantee a backup larger than 2TB … even though the information is nowhere close to 2TB … the drives you are backing up from are … so it dies.

What you have to use a custom backup … pick only the folders you need backed up. So, no shadow copies or anything really cool – just critical data that you can’t live without backed up.

So, in conclusion – I can only “backup” essential files on a system volume … bummer.

I am defiantly no expert in the IT / server world. I was looking forward to being able to easily make an exact copy of my server in a few easy steps ... cause ... "Windows Small Business Server is an affordable, all-in-one solution to reduce complexity and increase manageability of server technology in a small business environment."

This has turned into a little bit of a rant – but my question can now be closed with this as a solution – I am able to now make “backups” I guess.


Author Comment

ID: 38387545
I've requested that this question be closed as follows:

Accepted answer: 0 points for wewhitt's comment #a38378319

for the following reason:

I was able to figure out a work around to the original fault.
LVL 30

Expert Comment

ID: 38378506
I gave you the answers to your issue.

You either need to get smaller drives <2TB that still use a 512byte sector count or get a 3rd party backup.

You CANNOT change the sector size so that a vhd file(the default windows backup file) can use the external drive.

If you want to make a backup image and would like to do a restore ,then you need to get something like Acronis 11.5 for SBS ,Symantec System Recovery for SBS or Storagecraft Shadow protect for SBS.

They're all in the $500 buck range.

And they all have free evals.

Without the correct backup software,you cannot get reliable backups for Exchange,AD or Sharepoint.

If you value you data,do not rely on your work around.

I think that M$ should have fixed this with a service pack or patch as they have known about the issue for quite a while.

You have a legit rant,but dealing with M$ is a bit like dancing with the devil.

They have proven over the years that all MS cares about is MS.
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