Accessing Windows 2012 Backup files

From the Win2012 dashboard, I performed a successful backup to an external USB hard disk.
To make sure that it is a good backup, I tried simulating a restore.
(The minimalist program provides no way of validating the backup file(s) )
And found that the backup program has no problem accessing and identify the backup set.
I therefore have to assume it is good.

However, the external disk is not visible in Windows Explorer.
(Not just the server but also when connected to any other computer).
Disk management sees the disk, identifying it as a single NTFS primary partition.
But no drive letter is allocated.

My question is, if the volume is not visible,
1) How do I ascertain how much of the disk capacity has been used
2) Determine the size of the backup set. This would help estimating size of online backup storage requirements.

Talk about being clean and minimalist, but this is going a bit too far don't you think.

Is there another way to run the backup routine, instead of from the Dashboard.?
Perhaps, that way, more functionalities are exposed.

Your help, Experts, is most appreciated. Thanks
garychuAsked:
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Rob StoneCommented:
You can use wbadmin on server 2012 from the command line:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc754015.aspx
I'm not sure it's easier than the GUI though!

In Server 2012, the disk you use for backups is formatted prior to being used and made into a backup mount drive.
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc753528.aspx
(See External Hard Disk)
However, as with internal disks, you have the option of dedicating the disk for storage so that it will not appear in Windows Explorer. And, if you use a volume to store backups, and you store other data on that volume as well, I/O performance may decrease on the volume. We recommend that you do not store other data on the volume with your backups.

You can mount the VHDX file in Computer Manager to view the files as well. Open explorer showing hidden files and system files and you should be able to browse through the disk.
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garychuAuthor Commented:
Thanks, stoner79.
The external hard disk I had used would have been dedicated to storage only.
No problem with keeping it that way.
In Disk Management, the disk is connected and an NTFS partition shows up.
I tried attaching (mount) the VHD but could not browse to find anything.
The partition is probably a hidden one.
Does this mean that I have to use a partitioning utility to first set the hidden attribute off before I could mount the backup image on the external hard disk?
And is it okay to keep the partition unhidden if it is not to affect subsequent backups/restore?

I am not sure I understand you correctly.
Your further assistance would be appreciated.
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hecgomrecCommented:
Once you have dedicated the disk for backups, it is not recommended to do anything else with it. I don't even think you can even try to make it visible as the OS will prevent it.

In the given article by "Stoner79" cc753528 there is the explanation of this normal feature in Server 2012; therefore, when you are going to restore the software will know automatically where to look for the backup.  Also, understand this backups are not accumulative, meaning every time a backup is perform the previous one is replaced with the new one.

If you need a different type/set of backup you will have to use third party.
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garychuAuthor Commented:
Yes, I think I get the idea now.

My conclusion is
1. Use Disk Management to see how much of the disk has been used
2. Although remaining invisible in Windows Explorer, to browse it, I could use a partitioning utility to do so (read only).

From my reading of Microsoft's documentation, I seem to get the impression that the backup model is one of incremental.

I have always relied on Acronis Backup and Recovery. But found the current version (11.5 latest build) still have some compatibility issues with Win 8 (and by extension, Win 2012).

I will still need to test a recovery procedure before entrusting a new Win 2012 server to using it.

Thanks, Experts for the help.
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Rob StoneCommented:
You're welcome.  On the plus side, 2012 Server backup does backup at the block level instead of file level which is very very good :)
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Windows Server 2012

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