What’s changed in Windows backup?
I have recently been in a situation where I have wanted to back up a Windows 10 machine. I very soon discovered that the handy System Image Backup which was available in Windows 7 has been deprecated. It has not been removed entirely but it has been severely limited. For example trying to do a full Image back up so you can restore from “bare metal” is still available but you can no longer use a Shared Folder location (e.g. A share on a Network Attached Storage or NAS device). It throws back errors.
You can however use a USB hard drive. And for most people this may suffice.
File History Backup
Microsoft have introduces something called File History Backup – https://support.microsoft.com/en-au/help/17143/windows-10-back-up-your-files
This does snap shots of changes done to personal data stored in folders such as the Documents, Picture, Video folders. You can also set other folders to back up as well as control where it is backed up to and how long you want to keep the backups.
This is very useful if you find you have deleted or accidentally modified the incorrect file. You can go “back in time” to restore the file that has been affected. In some ways it is similar to the Apple Time Machine feature on Mac’s with one small difference (maybe not so small). You can’t restore the entire PC in the event of a hard drive crash.
Total PC Backup
So what if you want to protect your entire PC in the event of a catastrophic hard disk failure? You can of course use the built in Windows System Image Backup to a locally attached USB device or you can use a Third Party piece of software from Veeam which can do it better and faster, which is what I will talk about today.
Veeam is a software company that amongst other things has a powerful range of Backup Solutions for Enterprise to Small Business to even the Home User. The product I am going to talk about today is Veeam End Point Windows Agent – Free Edition.
First of all, yes it is free for personal use which immediately fits my budget 😛
It can be downloaded from https://www.veeam.com/windows-endpoint-server-backup-free.html
The install is very simple (pretty much click “Next” until it completes). Once installed it literally takes less than 5 minutes to set up a backup. It has three Backup modes, Entire Computer. Volume level backup, File level backup. These are all documented very well on the web site I will be concentrating on the Entire computer backup.
Veeam Entire Computer Backup
Once you have selected this option an click Next you are taken to a screen that will allow you to decide where you want the backups to be stored. You have four options
- Local Storage (e.g. second hard drive or USB device)
- Shared Folder (e.g. NAS share or share on another computer)
- Veeam backup repository (This is for those who are using Veeams Cloud storage solution for backups)
- Microsoft OneDrive (e.g. Microsoft’s cloud based storage solution)
For my purposes I chose to store the backups on my QNAP NAS file share where I have plenty of room to store multiple backups. In my case I was then presented with a page asking for the details of the share and the NAS login user account to access the share. This page also asked how many days worth of backups I wanted to keep. I chose 5 days.
Once you click Next you are then presented with a page for your schedule. It is worth noting that Veeam will automatically wake a PC that is in Sleep mode to run the backups. Therefore I have set my schedule to run at 12AM daily. I have also told the back up that it should shutdown my PC when it is finished.
So now I simply put my computer into Sleep mode before I retire for the night. At midnight Veeam wakes my PC up, does a full back up and then shuts it down again. When you open the Control Panel from the system tray you can see all the recent backup activity. The first backup will take the longest but all subsequent ones will be quicker as it only backs up the changes. (See the different sizes in the bar graph)
Restoring from backup
One of the things that the Veeam Agent will prompt you to do is create a bootable recovery media. This can be a USB flash drive or a DVD. Basically it creates a special Boot disk with all the hard ware drivers for your computer. In the event that your hard drive crashes and you need to install a brand new one, you can use the boot media to get access to your backup and from there recovery your entire computer without the need to re-install anything!
An added bonus is that you can click on any of the bars in the Control Panel (see image above) and restore just the files you wish.
Basically for a free product you get Enterprise level backup capability which protects your PC from file level and hard ware level failure. I recommend that if you are serious about protecting your PC data you should look into this product.by