Develop a Backup Plan

Updated: March 30, 2011

Applies To: Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials

Hardware failure, hardware theft, virus attacks, or even operator error can result in lost data. Depending on the amount and type of data, your company’s bottom line could even be affected, which makes it imperative that you have an effective backup strategy that you can stick to. This article provides an overview of the important things to consider and plan for when mapping out your backup strategy. Consider the following:

  • What should I back up?

  • How often should I create backups?

  • What media should I use?

  • How should I label backups?

  • Where should backups be stored?

The Windows Small Business Server 2011 Essentials server software provides a reliable way to perform regular server backups to external storage drives. You can use the Set Up Server Backup wizard to easily create and manage backups of server drives that you select. In the event of data loss, you can restore the data on those drives from a successful backup without restoring the entire server.

You can protect data on the server automatically by running the Set Up Server Backup wizard, which enables you to:

  • Choose the external storage drives that you want to use to back up your data.

  • Choose whether to back up all the data on the server or only certain drives.

  • Specify a schedule for when you want your backup to run.

After you configure your server backup, you can make changes to the backup by using the tasks that are available in the Computers and Backup task pane of the Dashboard. For example, you might want to add or remove backup items, or change the backup schedule.

What should I back up?

You should back up the system drive (typically, drive C). You should also back up any drives that store business information such as:

  • Databases that support your line-of-business applications

  • Redirected user's My Documents folders

  • Shared folders on the server

  • The system state of the server

  • The operating system or system drive

  • The computer backup database


You can only back up data from a local drive that is formatted as an NTFS file system. Drives formatted as FAT (including FAT32) file systems do not appear in the list of drives to back up.

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How often should I create backups?

You should protect your computer that is running Windows SBS 2011 Essentials and its data automatically by scheduling daily backups. It is recommended that you maintain a daily backup plan because most organizations cannot afford to lose the data that has been created over several days.

When you use the Set Up Server Backup wizard that is included with Windows SBS 2011 Essentials, you can choose to back up server data at multiple times during the day. Because the wizard schedules differential-based backups, Backup runs quickly, and server performance is not significantly impacted. By default, Set Up Server Backup schedules a backup to run daily between 6 pm and 9 am. However, you can adjust the backup schedule according to the needs of your organization. You should occasionally evaluate the effectiveness of your backup plan, and change the plan as necessary.

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What media should I use?

You can back up your data to any external storage drive that supports USB 2.0, IEEE 1394, or eSATA. Drives of this type offer large storage capacities and the speed that is necessary to efficiently back up your data. You should visit the website for your external storage drive manufacturer to ensure that your backup drive is supported on computers running Windows Server® 2008 R2.


You can back up data to a dedicated internal hard disk drive or to external hard disk drives.

When choosing a storage drive for your server backup, consider the following:

  • Choose a drive that contains sufficient space to store your data. Your storage drives should contain at least 2.5 times the storage capacity of the data that you want to back up. The drives should also be large enough to accommodate the future growth of your server data.

  • When reusing an external storage drive, make sure that the drive is empty or contains only data that you do not need.


The Set Up Server Backup wizard formats the storage drives when it configures them for backup.

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How should I label backups?

Place a label on your backup drive to quickly identify the source server and the range of backup dates. Adding a label helps you identify which backup to restore your server data from, and it also helps prevent loss of data due to accidental formatting.

When you label a backup drive, you should label the drives in a way that meets the needs of your backup schedule and policy. For example, you might use a drive labeled “Disk 1” to back up data on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and a drive labeled “Disk 2” to back up data on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. For maximum protection, backups should be kept in a different location from the server.

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Where should backups be stored?

It is recommended that you store your external storage drives at a secure offsite location and regularly rotate them to protect your data in the event of theft or a natural disaster. The offsite location should be safe from threat of fire, flood, theft, and other perils.

You can use multiple external storage drives for backups, and you can rotate the drives between onsite and offsite storage locations. This can improve your disaster preparedness planning by helping you recover your data if physical damage occurs to the hardware onsite.

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