Home Computer Backup

Windows Home Server will automatically back up your home computers to your home server and allow you to easily restore the entire computer or an individual file or folder to a previous point in time. The Windows Home Server Backup solution uses an innovative system to back up only the data that has not already been backed up before.  Even if you have several copies of the same data on different computers, the data is backed up only once on your home server and your home server keeps track of what data was stored on each home computer on each day.  This makes it very efficient in terms of the time it takes for backups to complete and also the amount of space that is used on your home server.

  • Automated Daily Backup of your Home Computers

Computer backups are automatically configured when you install the Windows Home Server Connector software on your computers. Backup is performed automatically on a daily basis for every configured computer. Normally there is no need to change any settings. If you want to change settings for a home computer you do it through the Windows Home Server Console application by Configuring the Backup of a computer to exclude certain hard drives or folders on a given hard drive (e.g. Recorded TV folder on a Vista Home Premium computer).

  • Restore an Entire Home Computer

Restoring a home computer to a previous point in time is easy. If you want to restore your computer to a previous point in time, you would boot the home computer from the Home Computer Restore CD.  The computer will connect to your home server and provide a simple wizard for restoring a single hard drive or multiple hard drives from a backup of that computer that is stored on your home server.

  • Restore Individual Files and Folders

You can also restore individual files or folders by selecting a home computer and a specific backup of that computer from the Windows Home Server Console application.  A Windows Explorer window will be displayed with all of the files and folders that were backed up for that computer on that day.  You can easily drag and drop individual files or entire folders from this Windows Explorer window and store them on your Windows Desktop or any other location on your home computer.


I have been running Windows Home Server in my house for some time now.  The sum total of all of the used disk space in my house is close to 400 GB  across my 3 PCs.  And, I have multiple backups for these 3 PCs so that I can restore any PC to yesterday, last week, last month or the day of the first backup created by Windows Home Server.  The sum total of disk space used for all of these backups on my home server is 186 GB, as there is a lot of similar stuff across these 3 PCs.   Magic?  or just some great software solving the home computer backup problem one household at a time.


The Windows Home Server initiates the backups of your home computers every night, by default it starts backing up your PCs shortly after midnight (this time is configuable).  If one of your PCs in plugged in but in sleep mode, the home server will 'wake it up', back it up, and then let it go back to sleep.  If it is only on battery power, we will choose to not backup that PC. We don't plan on trying to wake up machines that are powered off, while it is possible in some cases, it is not 100% reliable and it will be hard for consumers to figure out how to configure their PC for these capabilities.




Comments (23)
  1. Anonymous says:

    J.D Biersdorfer from the New York Times did an article for the Personal Tech column entitled " Backing

  2. Anonymous says:

    I sometimes get asked the question: " What is the difference between a home server and a network attached

  3. Anonymous says:

    When we first starting thinking about building Windows Home Server we knew that there would be a natural

  4. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations to Hewlett Packard in being selected as a winner of MacWorld’s annual "Best of Show"

  5. Anonymous says:

    Last December, I posted a story to my personal blog titled " Windows Home Server is actually useful!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Yeah that feature would be great addition, I’ld love to test this Home Server stuff out, sounds like the perfect solution for the family IT guru.

  7. Anonymous says:

    one more idea..again for those who shutdown their PCs.

    Maybe during the shutdown process the system could prompt the user if a backup should/shouldn’t be performed.  And if they choose to backup, they still can walk away with confidence that after the backup the system will be shutdown.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I’m also very interested in how this works with the different sleep modes. I can’t remember the distinctions right now, but I know they are things like S1, S3, etc. Which modes will the nightly backup work in?

    I usually put my machines into Hibernate to save power. Is this also going to work, or only Sleep.

    This seems like a pretty big issue to me, as I agree with other posters that most people will switch there computers off at night.

    I’d like to see more details on which sleep modes are supported.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Brian, you make an excellent point in regards to the RDP scenaro.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The remote access functionality in WHS sounds great.

    One question?  How much will the hardware version of Windows Home Server Cost on average?  My wifes Uncle would probably love this stuff, as would I.

    Man this stuff sounds good :-)!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Why no Wake-on-LAN support? New machines usually ship with Wake-on-LAN enabled, and i seriously doubt that most people will want to have their PCs in a constant standby mode.

    Especially most home users, not working in the IT and similar people where Home Server is aimed at are very sensitive to oecological problems. They don’t like wasted power.

    Maybe in the USA this is a bit different, but in Europe you won’t get many people which won’t power down their machine completely.

    Please, add support for Wake-On-LAN. Otherwise, there will be lot’s of headaches with this.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Our home PCs are certainly not switched on 24*7.  I don’t think it’s a sensible assumption for the home market, especially due to (1) environmental concerns and (2) electricity costs.  WOL really does need to be supported.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Please, please, please add in WOL – even if it is disabled by default (I joined this blog specifically to request this)!!  Two reasons:

    1. People have already said this – waking a computer in the middle of the night to initiate a backup.

    2. Remote desktop – It has already been mentioned that one could use the WHS to connect to a computer on your home network for a remote desktop session.  What if the computer is turned off (as mine are frequently when I am away from home).  What if, while away from home, I realized I needed to do something on my computer (yes, this has happened before)?  It would be wonderful if I could simply logon to WHS – ask it to wake my computer (send WOL packet) – and initiate the remote session.  I would be overjoyed by this feature.  I would very much like to have just one "always on" device – WHS, and use that device to turn whatever else I need on easily.

    I beg you guys on the WHS team – please add WOL

  14. Anonymous says:

    If important common files are shared on the server, how are these important files backed up automatically, and where?

  15. Anonymous says:

    There are a few things I am interested in seeing in WHS:

    1) Support Raid 5 – I’m hoping that through some kind of advanced configuration, I can setup a Raid 5 array and actually store the majority of my music, movies, pictures, home video, etc in one single location. If ti’s possible it would be nice to have some kind of email notification if there’s any problems with the array

    2) Support for Routing service – a WHS box would be idea for acting as the internet gateway but without some kind support for advanced routing (such as port forwarding) getting the most out of applications like skype will be tough. If the majority of the services are only going to be focused on backup, maybe call it "windows home backup server" which might actually help sell the product

    3) Built in Sync functions – windows synctoy is nice but how about having sync, contrib, etc functions running from the WHS. I would like to come home, connect my digital camera, download the pictures and then have them moved automatically to the server so I can view them from any pc or the HTPC in the living room.

  16. Anonymous says:

    WOL is not reliable at all. I work in a large enterprise environment (15,000 PCs) and we attempted to script WOL to bring up a batch of PCs. We couldn’t even get one to wake up reliably and consistently. Certain conditions have to exist like the PC being shut down properly. If those conditions are met, then it might work, or might not.

    So I can see why they would avoid this. Now what they could do is develop a better protocol for WOL with the NIC vendors. 🙂


  17. Anonymous says:

    Will the backup/restore feature allow a user to upgrade a hard drive or PC and "restore" the old data/config to the new system?

    People would love something like that. But to do it really right requires backing up apps and system state.

  18. Anonymous says:

    ..continue WOL discussion.  TowerDave, I think improving WOL is a great idea but it doesn’t really address the hardware already in consumers homes.

    Perhaps there should be an option to either put the computer to sleep or shutdown after the backup has completed.  Another option should be for those who always shutdown their computer, is to have a quick/easy way to initiate the backup process when they are finished working on their computer.  Again, when backup is finished it could do the shutdown automatically for them.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Thanks guys for having this blog set up. Please keep the post coming OFTEN!

    I’m curious about the WHS (Windows Home Server) software. Here are a few of my questions:

    1 – Can the WHS run other software like a normal windows pc? Ex. I want to run Hamachi for my personal VPN.

    2 – Will the WHS need to have its own anti-virus / firewall software for protection?

    3 – Will it need to download its own windows-updates?

    4 & 5 – Will the windows media-connect from the WHS be expanded to stream media to Media Center Extenders? Can this be an optional download / upgrade for the WHS (a powertoy perhaps)?

    6 – Are the printer drivers for the WHS the same as for XP or are the drivers already part of the WHS OS?

    7 – What other peripherals are allowed to be attached to the WHS (ex. scanners, external fax modems, external CD/DVD/JAZZ/ZIP Drives)?

    8 – Are PVR capabilities being planned for the WHS?

    Sorry for so many questions? I found that there is hardly any details on the web. If there is a white-paper / documentation that has the answers to these questions, please let me know where to find it.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I’m seeing alot of great questions that I would like to see answered. Some that I can already answer but one that I am truly interested in finding out:

    – Will WHS be able to backup an HDD on an XBOX or XBOX360? Or will I be able to move files and folders (music, media, gamesave data) from these game console hdds onto the WHS?

       -If you’re going to have a Home Server then it should work with all current Microsoft proprietary devices/softwares that are primarily used in the home.

       -There are several retailers that do not allow customers returning their XBOX360s to swap their old hard drive to keep that data. Probably there are plenty of customers also who would not want their data on their old hard drive being given away for potential privacy issues (possible wiping features, maybe even remote defragging features for 360hdd’s… I’ll stick to the point)

    -Also if there are to be any interactivity features to Media Extenders such as the 360, it may be a great time to implement some potentially awesome corss platform LAN party hosting capabilities between PCs and xbox line game consoles…

  21. Anonymous says:

    As johncz said, an idea could be to implement the backup functionality into the shutdown process. Today, when XP og Vista has downloaded security updates, the computer will install these during shutdown, unless the user tells it not to do so.

    Why not do something like that? Of course, you should not have too many options just to shut down the pc. That would conflict with the whole idea af WHS. But I’m sure that it’s possible to come up with the perfect solution.

  22. Anonymous says:


    I agree! From the first time, I heard of WHS, I have been wondering if it’s normal to leave computers on all night? Personally, I don’t know anybody who doesn’t power down at the end of the day.

    WOL would indeed be an option.

  23. Anonymous says:

    The ability for it to recognise that the computer was off and perform the backup during idle time in the day would be sensible, no? Is this something that is planned?

    I know this would be a deal breaker for me as at home my Dad will not leave things on over night so the backups I try to set up on his computer invariably never happen.

    Saying that he would probably just turn off the home server itself but I don’t expect you guys to fix that 🙂

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