Sometimes I get backup questions from readers. They make my life much easier, as I don’t have to think about what to write. On May 18th I got a query from Brenton Webster. It’s a question I hadn’t been asked before.
I came across your blog looking for some sync software to support a specific scenario, and thought I’d drop you a line and see if you might have a suggestion.
I recently introduced a Windows Home Server into my network, but unfortunately my Mozy client won’t back up from my network drive. The Home Server gives me a good local backup solution, but I want something offsite as well. My solution to this problem is to sync my Home Server content (the master copy) to a local drive on one of my client machines and then have Mozy back up from the local drive. This copy on the client machine will not be used for anything but sending data to Mozy.
I’m looking for an efficient way to sync from my Home Server to my client machine, ideally something that can just monitor changes on the Home Server and sync them to the client machine (a) in real time when the client machine is available (the client machine won’t always be on) or (b) queue up those changes and sync whenever the client machine is available again. Ideally this would be program on the Windows Home Server and require no installation on the client machine. I’m using SyncToy 2.0 at the moment, but it’s way too slow since it needs to compare all of the files (224,000+ files totaling about 150Gb) and then propagate the changes.
I was wondering if you might have some pointers to sync software that would be appropriate for this scenario? Thanks in advance for your help!
What a great question! I’d never actually heard of SyncToy before, but the “toy” part of its name and the fact that it’s a free download from Microsoft should cue you in to the fact that it’s not meant for heavy-duty use. It looks from the description as if it’s not too bad a tool for all that, but it’s clearly not cutting it for Brenton.
So I had to think a bit, and I passed the question on to the Ur-Guru so he could think about it, too. There are many file backup and sync tools that continually monitor your drive for changes, but few of them meet requirement (b). In fact, the only one I’ve used myself is Memeo Autobackup. I used to have a backup setup for the V drive, which I only use when traveling, and it would just save up the changes until I connected the drive.
There’s another problem here, though, the same one Brenton has with Mozy. Many home-user backup products will not back up from a network drive, which is what Windows Home Server is. (Some won’t even back up to a network drive, though as consumer NAS becomes more popular, that’s less common.) And, in fact, the version of Memeo that came with my Buffalo drives doesn’t do the trick. To back up from Windows Home Server to a second machine, Brenton would need Memeo Backup Professional. Naturally that costs more than the regular version of Memeo: $79.95 (discounted from $99.95) to Memeo Backup 4’s $29.95 (discounted from $39.95).
The Ur-Guru suggested SyncBack Pro, which he uses to run fiendishly complex backup routines on his world-famous array of workstations. At $49.95, it’s less expensive than Memeo. I use SyncBack Free, which seems quite fast and efficient at doing that file compare-and-copy between my C drive and my D drive, but it doesn’t have as many configuration options as the pro version.
Brenton promised to let me know what kind of results he gets.
Of course, he could also try another approach: looking for an online backup company that will back up from Windows Home Server. I’m guessing he already has a commitment, possibly financial, to Mozy, and that makes moving somewhat problematic. In any case, most of the inexpensive online backup services are focused on the consumer market, and aim at backing up your internal hard drive. For backup from a NAS drive, you might need to investigate continuous data protection of the enterprise sort—and that doesn’t come cheaply. Brenton’s solution is more economical.
But if you’re an online backup service that backs up from NAS drives (or from any external drive), write in and tell the readers about it. And if you’ve got a backup or sync program that will solve Brenton’s problem for him, tell me so I can pass it on. (That’s sallie [at] fileslinger [dot] com, if you don’t want to post a comment to the blog. Note that blog comments are moderated, and it may take me a while to get to them.)
And if you have a backup question of your own, feel free to send it in!