Windows 7 Backup/Restore to/from Network Share

 I have about 15 PCs with a combination of Windows 7 Pro and XP Pro.
 I have backed up a complete Windows 7 on an external USB HD and restored it successfully using Windows 7 Recovery CD. However I don't want to avoid buying 15 external USB HDs if I can.
 Is it possible to windows backup and store each PC's backup on the network share or one big external USB and restore from the network share or one big external USB HD?

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MisbahSr. Software EngineerCommented:
you can definitely backup the systems to a network share but when you need to do a restore, you can copy the files to an external USB Disk or to a local disk on the machine you want to restore.

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Check in to getting the Microsoft Home Server.
Put it on a stand alone system with a big drive and you will be set.
The home server will back up up to 10 machines. So you would have to use two like systems or virtualized them.
The Home server is an incredible backup solution for the money.
sgleeAuthor Commented:
There is already Windows SBS2011 in place. Is there some type of tools in SBS2011 to help backup workstations on the domain?
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If you want it all nicely automatic you could get Microsoft's Windows Storage Server Essentials add-on to SBS to backup client workstations to the server (sorry, I don't know the cost):

You could mount a server share to a drive letter on the clients and tell the Win7 backup to use that. Recovery then becomes a two-step process though where you have to re-install enough Win7 on the client to be able to access the server and get to the backup files.
A lot of people discount the Home Server for what it sounds like... some rinky dink solution.
It is not!
The backup is almost identical to the $5K storage server and cost is under $100.
De-duplication and flawless recovery are some of the key features.
Only downside is the maximum of 10 users, but there is an upside to it as well because it forces redundancy in your system.
sgleeAuthor Commented:
I attached 1.5TB external USB HD to a XP PC and created a share.
Currently I am backing up some WIN7 workstations  to that shared external USB HD (\\XP3\E).
Off the root directoy, I created


In Windows backup program, I provided the UNC (\\XP3\E\UserA).
Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to restore one of the backups for testing using Windows7 recovery disc.

I will keep you posted.
sgleeAuthor Commented:
I successfully backed up three Windows 7 workstation PCs on  the 1.5TB External USB Hard Drive.
Now I wanted to test "Restore" using Win7 Recovery CD (that I created on Win7 OS).
I provided the network path and it sees the backup that I made last night with the time and date. It started restoring to the hard drive, but after a long time, it generates an error "Windows Backup encountered an error when accessing the remote shared folder(0x80780158)"
Any idea?
If it really started restoring the backup (LEDs were flashing, hard drives were busy...), then it could mean the network connection dropped. We cannot tell you why it happened, but only guess that maybe you are using a wireless LAN and it is somehow instable? Or a wired LAN but nevertheless package loss occurred (if the remote location has network problems, for example).

You could experiment a little and at that stage press Shift+F10 to bring up the command prompt and ping the source server constantly while restoring to see whether the ping stops s at the same time.

ping destination -t
sgleeAuthor Commented:
Ok I will try that tomorrow and post the result.
Today after seeing the start of restore, I also made sure hard drive light was busy too and saw the progress bar moving across as it continued to restore data. I have a feeling that it ran into a problem towards the end.
sgleeAuthor Commented:
This morning I tried to restore again and this time it worked for some reason.
Due to this connectivity problem, I will backup to the internal hard drive, as backup destination, instead of external USB HD which adds another transportation layer.

Btw Shift-F10 did not give me "Command Window" so that I can run PING command.
No? Yes, sure :) When I boot a win7 setup dvd and press shift and f10 together, I get (see screenshot)
You can also try doing a basic install on the computer being recovered and then use the backup/restore program to restore from the network share. I've found this works more reliably for some reason compared to using the recovery program on the install disk.
sgleeAuthor Commented:
I did not try that command from Win7 window. I tried that during "Retore". My bad ...

As to "doing a basic install and use then use the backup/restore program to restore from the network share" ---> That is good to know. Sort of like "In-Place" OS upgrade ...
>  tried that during "Retore
Right so. First start the command prompt with shift F10, then start the restore process - they can co-exist and the pinging can be done, tried it.
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