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Backup Windows operating system to 3TB External USB Hard Drive

Posted on 2014-02-11
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2014-02-13
  I have a problem backing up SBS2011 using native Windows Server Backup to any external USB HD bigger than 2TB. Also I had to reduce the partition size to < 2TB on SBS2011 server because if the partition is greater than 2TB, it won't backup either. So 2TB barrier seemed to apply on both external USB HD size and internal hard drive partition.
  That said, I have following questions as I am thinking about purchasing Seagate FreeAgent Back Up Plus Desk 3 TB HDs (Mfg Part# STCA3000101)

  (1) Has much changed since last year in terms of 2TB barrrier on SBS2011?
  (2) Does 2TB barrier apply to Windows 7 or Windows 8 operating systems if I use native windows backup software?

  I would like to hear from experts who have used 3 or 4TB external USB drives.

Question by:sglee
LVL 17

Expert Comment

ID: 39852390
Have you seen this. Check the drive sector size.
LVL 18

Expert Comment

by:Sushil Sonawane
ID: 39852402
You can take your backup having hard disk size more than 2 TB.

The maximum partition size for an MBR-partitioned disk is around 2TB - every version of windows is perfectly capable of handling this.

To go beyond 2TB you need to use GPT-partitioned disks. Only 64-bit versions of Windows can be installed on such a disk, and your motherboard needs to have an EFI BIOS in order to boot from it.

See: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/hardware/gg4635...

For more info refer below links:


LVL 74

Accepted Solution

Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy earned 1220 total points
ID: 39853061
I'd like to know why your backup is so large?

You really need to consider the functionality of your storage and understand how long it would take to actually recover/restore a volume that large in an SBS environment.

I've seen 1TB RAIDs take upwards of 3 days to repair if the RAID fails.  (Of course in lareger environments you wouldn't have everything that runs a business stored on a 1TB RAID 1, but in SBS-Land, this is often the case).

If your server failed and you had to do a bare-metal-recovery, it could take upwards of 15 hours to restore a 2TB volume -- meaning you could lose an entire day's productivity.

Backing up that much data to a USB attached drive could also take 12-15 hours for the Full Backup -- this could run into your operational hours -- dragging down the performance of the entire operation.

SBS 2011 operates very nicely with a total of 1TB, ideally split with about 140-200GB for the System Drive and the remainder for Data.  When this backs up using the built-in SBS Backup it will run each volume as a separate job + system state.  I've successfully used a pair of 1.5TB drives for this with great success.

If you have larger data requirements, I would first ask if ALL of the data needs to be backed up daily?  Or is some of it archival?  For Archival data, you can place that on a Read-Only volume and keep a copy of it offsite -- no need to back it up at all.  

If you have larger, dynamic/changing data requirements, then you really should be looking at a proper data storage solution with offsite redundancy.

Trying to wrangle a 2TB or more Small Business Server will only cause you trouble -- because its just not designed to be that big.


Author Comment

ID: 39854093
I agree with you. I am currently using 2TB USB backup drive. Windows Server backup does a nice job in backing up the data incrementally and it fits the bill for now. I was just curious if there has been any change or solution to "2TB limitation" as I will be setting up a couple of more SBS2011 systems. That is all.  Of course I would prefer 3TB or 4TB over 2TB as they will keep more days of files.
If I have to tweak the stuff around to make it work, it is not worth to me.  I will just stick to 2TB for now.
LVL 74

Expert Comment

by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
ID: 39857367
You don't really need THAT much more storage to keep a lot more backup versions.  Because  the only additional space the "changed bits" of the files -- not complete copies of them.

I have a client that has a Server 2012 Essentials with about 300GB of data and 12 workstations attached to the network that the server also backs up nightly (full images of the workstations is the default in Server 2012 Essentials).  All of this fits quite nicely on two rotating 1.5TB drives and we have at least 45 backup versions available.

The bottom line is that you don't want to tweak anything to be able to use larger drives -- they will just take longer to backup/restore.  If you have a need to archive older backups (ie, for compliance) you can always just replace your current backup drives -- starting a fresh backup set and put the old ones in the vault for safekeeping.


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