Question Seeking 2nd Opinions: AOMEI Centralized Backupper

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,669
1,422
126
So here's an interesting development five years or so after I'd "set up" my Windows 2012 R2 Essentials [home] Server system.

I thought, because I'd implemented scheduled Client Computer Backups that now no longer ever fail to succeed, that I could always do a bare-metal restore of a client-system boot drive, and any other drives I chose to back up along with the boot-system disk. This feature had saved my ass about three times before I replaced Home Server 2011 with Win 2012 R2 Essentials. [And, yes, my server OS is a bit "dated", but check around and you will see that small businesses continue to use something that works for them, and the price of even the Essentials version sort of discourages frequent upgrade.]

Then, while tweaking the server and the clients for more perfection, I tried to create a USB flash drive for client restoration. WEll, you see, I had never completed the "set up restore" feature within the server Dashboard. And then I discovered that I actually had to DOWNLOAD -- DOWNLOAD! -- a Win PE add-in, which, in various versions, always accompanies any number of local and other backup programs.

And -- guess what? If you had clicked the "set up Restore" feature in the Dashboard soon after installing the 2012 R2 Essentials OS, there would've been no problem. You would've successfully installed the Win-PE add-in, presenting you with all things wonderful for knowing you could do bare-metal client restores with only an 8GB USB 2.0 flash drive stuck into the Server.

Well, Win 2012 R2 Essentials, like all Windows versions, has periodic "Windows Updates". These Updates, at some point, make it impossible to install the version of Win PE that works with the OS. Blogs and forums all over the internet show IT Techs and IT-savvy Users with their panties in a twist offering up "work-arounds" for getting the Win PE add-in installed successfully. It seemed as though the most workable solution was to set up the OS on a separate piece of hardware -- a separate computer -- then -- install the OS and copy a certain folder to disk after setting up the Restoration feature. Then, transfer the folder to the working server with the problem.

And so I discovered that I had perfect client backups on my server, but I'd be in a helluva pickle if the boot drive for one of my (as many as 5) PCs -- up and freaking DIED.

Are you KIDDING?! I'M NOT kidding! What is it worth -- to me -- to avoid freeing up a PC, going through the win 2012 R2 Essentials installation, and fiddling with file-folders to transfer to my REAL server?

It's worth $200 to me, for buying AOMEI Centralized Backupper "custom" version that defaults to 5 clients and 1 Server.

So far, I'm impressed. The default server Windows backup that controls clients for that purpose puts all the system-disk backups in the same folder, and you can't identify with File Explorer which of those files are for the boot-system disk, which are for other "data" disks or selectively-chosen folders on all of it. But AOMEI does it automatically by each computer name for creation of subfolders in your carefully-created "AOMEI Client Backups" folder that appears on client systems as "\Shared Folders\AOMEI Client Backups\" after you've configured the folder and sharing on the server.

The restore feature is a bit obscured in the AOMEI server software, but it is there, and AOMEI -- not to fear! -- bundles a Win PE version of their own for the creation of USB rescue disks.

WHO ELSE IS USING AOMEI? WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT IT? IS IT "COOL"? DO YOU LIKE IT? Tell me about scheduling backup tasks, for which I am confident but yet to arrange in the configuration.

I think there is a free version of AOMEI that many use, just as many use the Macrium Free version of Reflect. But it's a local backup solution, and doesn't work with the server OS.
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
55,989
9,873
126
Shrug. I use Macrium Reflect Free v8, and back up to NAS. The client schedules the backups.
Macrium lets you create a WinPE-based restore USB, that can restore from the NAS.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Shmee

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,669
1,422
126
Shrug. I use Macrium Reflect Free v8, and back up to NAS. The client schedules the backups.
Macrium lets you create a WinPE-based restore USB, that can restore from the NAS.
I was going to explore the possibility of backing up to the NAS/server from the Macrium installed locally to any client. I wasn't sure it was an option, and I hadn't installed Macrium in any flavor to all of my systems -- I have two of four which don't use it.

I'm still looking at the AOMEI trial version, so I haven't pulled the checkout string yet.

I can see it's nice to have things work both ways: a complete local backup to a local dedicated disk, and a backup to the server/NAS as well. I have the server's "local backup" managed by SyncBack SE for now. I'm thinking I could fold it into the AOMEI tasks, but as it is currently configured or as might be desired, the backup files don't reside on my drive-pool but on a separate 2.5" spinner -- limiting my choice of backup priorities. My absolutely-must-protect Server file and folder collection is maybe 150 GB in size. So my decision could go either way, for a desire to just avoid either Server local backup or the server-managed client backups.

As long as Macrium, AOMEI and Syncback SE don't collide, I could save myself money or . . . simplify things -- one way or the other.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,669
1,422
126
It is possible to backup system to external drive, swap out drives and repair restore just using ms backup
If you understand what you're saying, or if I could glean any meaning from it myself, that's a lot of trouble compared to preparing a USB flash drive on the server box and then doing the bare-metal restore on the client system with it.
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
93,674
14,294
126
for 150gb, just make copies to three different locations, including an offsite one like BackBlaze. I am talking about it is possible to replace the server hard drive without reinstall, which is a lot more complicated than backing up client machine.
 

Shmee

Memory & Storage, Graphics Cards Mod Elite Member
Super Moderator
Sep 13, 2008
7,101
2,224
136
Both AOIMEI and Macrium are great. I use/have used both. You can just install the free versions on any of your client computers, and then backup over network to a NAS/server.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,669
1,422
126
Both AOIMEI and Macrium are great. I use/have used both. You can just install the free versions on any of your client computers, and then backup over network to a NAS/server.
So . . . . When I introduced my first Win 10 Pro workstation to a network of Win 7 systems on a Windows Home Server 2011 rig, I was unable to get it to back up the Win 10 system. Since it was the most important PC in the house, and since I'd already used Macrium for cloning, I set up a 2.5" 2TB hot-swap spinner for scheduled backups. Never had a problem with it, but then -- I had two different backup programs operating across the network. I've replaced the 2TB 2.5" spinners with 5TB units.

Not long thereafter, I upgraded the 2011 OS ($85 dollah, GI! $85 dollah!) to Win 2012 R2 Essentials. In balance with the expense of getting an "Academic" version of 2012 (about three times the Home Server expense), I had a drive-pool using the Stablebit software which had been wonderful.

See, you can lose your Server OS drive -- after all, what does it contain? Just the OS and about four applications, like Stablebit, the chosen server AV program (Avast), the server version of PrimoCache (got that, too!). You'd merely reinstall the OS -- not using Windows backup for it -- restore the accounts and client connections, install stablebit, and the latter would automatically recognize and restore the drive pool. I suppose, for server OS system backup, one could just clone the drive -- very infrequently.

From the beginning, though, I didn't like the way the server OS's own backup handled the OS drive, but I DID like the way it backed up workstation/client systems automatically.

The free versions of Macrium and AOMEI (your own experience) are great or must be great -- for local backups. In addition to having server client workstation backups save my ass about three times, Macrium saved my ass as many times when I was tweaking my early Skylake as a dual-boot Win7/Win10 system. I got all of this to work perfectly -- including backup of the dual OS system disk. Of course, I later dropped the Win 7 from the system disk, and no problem thereafter with that either.

So when the climate-change fires are burning down your So-Cal neighborhood and you are ordered to evacuate, what do you do? I suppose I grab about three hot-swap drives from my systems, my laptop etc. and split the scene, man!

But I think I'm trying to imagine some sort of LAN configuration with the duplicated backups where I can reduce the number of hot-swap drives that need rescue when flames are moving up the hill . . . And there's nothing to prevent me from using two different software systems to achieve those backups.

And while I work all of this out, I've got to keep everything backed up in ways that might support some "final solution."
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,669
1,422
126
Just to shift the discussion a bit.

Who wishes to expound on "Azure Active Directory"? This feature is built in to the server OS -- I THINK! Is there some subscription fee? How does it work?
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,669
1,422
126
AD is a very important part of MSServer.
TEll me more. Is it some sort of cloud backup capability? I never explored every single feature of Win 2012 R2 Essentials, others than those I needed or had been using already when I set it up. I wouldn't seem so needy or ignorant if I just did some web-searches on my own to keep up with this stuff -- or "get caught up".

Today I'm putting AOMEI "Centralized" through some initial paces to get a feel for it -- just for an ad-hoc backup of three systems. Next we'll define a schedule for it. I also think I'll add a 5TB 2.5" spinner to a vacant hot-swap bay for backup duty. Eventually, I'll discontinue the use of SyncBack SE.

UPDATE: Just looking on an MS web-page listing Azure features. Nothing there that I wish to use at the moment.
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
93,674
14,294
126
TEll me more. Is it some sort of cloud backup capability? I never explored every single feature of Win 2012 R2 Essentials, others than those I needed or had been using already when I set it up. I wouldn't seem so needy or ignorant if I just did some web-searches on my own to keep up with this stuff -- or "get caught up".

Today I'm putting AOMEI "Centralized" through some initial paces to get a feel for it -- just for an ad-hoc backup of three systems. Next we'll define a schedule for it. I also think I'll add a 5TB 2.5" spinner to a vacant hot-swap bay for backup duty. Eventually, I'll discontinue the use of SyncBack SE.

UPDATE: Just looking on an MS web-page listing Azure features. Nothing there that I wish to use at the moment.

no, it's not really something you use, think of it as a directory of all things Windows. user, permissions, folder permissions, stuff like that. GUID is the unique ID assigned to everything and everyone.


Azure AD is just the Azure specific version of AD
 
Last edited:

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,669
1,422
126
no, it's not really something you use, think of it as a directory of all things Windows. user, permissions, folder permissions, stuff like that. GUID is the unique ID assigned to everything and everyone.

And all maintained on "The Cloud" -- right? If it costs me anything to use it, I need to deliberate, and there's certainly no hurry. I'll review the link you sent.

I'm having a good day today. A minor hose-leak on my beloved '95 Trooper is being expertly fixed; the first backup test for AOMEI gives confidence; Moms is happy with her Cheerios, Milk and choco syrup.

And . . . . everything is being backed up daily without any fuss. Maybe tonight I'll wash the Trooper and run it up and down the highway to blow out the carbs. I believe in the Manitou. The Trooper runs better if the Machine Manitou is pleased with a car-wash. Same with dusting off my computers. Keep the Manitous happy, I say!
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
93,674
14,294
126
And all maintained on "The Cloud" -- right? If it costs me anything to use it, I need to deliberate, and there's certainly no hurry. I'll review the link you sent.

I'm having a good day today. A minor hose-leak on my beloved '95 Trooper is being expertly fixed; the first backup test for AOMEI gives confidence; Moms is happy with her Cheerios, Milk and choco syrup.

And . . . . everything is being backed up daily without any fuss. Maybe tonight I'll wash the Trooper and run it up and down the highway to blow out the carbs. I believe in the Manitou. The Trooper runs better if the Machine Manitou is pleased with a car-wash. Same with dusting off my computers. Keep the Manitous happy, I say!

like I said, AD is not really something a home user has to deal with at all.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,669
1,422
126
like I said, AD is not really something a home user has to deal with at all.
I'm almost at a "crossroads". I didn't spend much on the server box in 2016: the hardware cost me only a little more than the OS -- an Ivy Bridge Quad Core (non-K). The software add-ons maybe cost me another $100.

We started from three active computer users in 2016. One dropped out with dementia the following year; another -- my brother -- died in January. So, with variations in my logon ID, there are three users now -- Me, Myself, and I.

Should I just "take it down"? It's still a convenience in many ways. But I suppose it is now "overkill". I have to think about it. And it DOES seem less wise, to throw $200 at it for Centralized Backupper. There isn't any "free" version of that AOMEI flavor.

Well -- how long would it take me to save up for the Ford Mustang Mach-E California-Route-1? Or -- how many years left just to drive one?

Gotta think . . . .

It's all working so damn well . . . .
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,669
1,422
126
Do you actually need any server only services?
What do you mean by "server only" services? I have important files shared by all workstations on the server; I have the workstation backups; I have a LARGE library of DVR movie and TV-show recordings.

At about the time I upgraded to 2012 R2 Essentials, I had in mind to set up hosting my own web-site, in the matter of publishing about a discovery I made over post-war 20th-century history. With the extra burden of caring for Moms and Bro, I put aside that project.

When I was teaching database and programming courses in the '90s, I created a small NetBIOS network in my home office, so for instance I could set up the network version of ORACLE, experiment with it and develop my course materials for the students. If I would ordinarily discard a computer that was four or five years old, I would keep it instead as part of the network. When I retired "for good" in 1999, I returned to the west coast with about three PCs, and this "server-fetish" continued -- since we had a household of three users.

I COULD for instance jettison the MS Server box and arrange for some simpler NAS box. Or, I could simply set the workstations up for peer-to-peer sharing and file sync. Haven't made up my mind yet.
 

Tech Junky

Diamond Member
Jan 27, 2022
3,179
1,051
96
First thing I would do is get rid of MSFT on the server and put Linux on it since it's more stable and you can get more functionality out of it.

You can skip the BS backup software and just put some cron jobs in for backup functionality.

Media storage shouldn't be an issue if you setup a raid EXT4 w/ SMB enabled to share the content. I've been running this setup for years and it's setup and forget for the most part until you make some changes.

Server <> OS disk <> Raid10 - I even run a cron to backup the system drive to the raid as an ounce of prevention even though I've never had an issue to this point. Then again I swap drives like they're candy as tech progresses and the server gets rebuilt.

I run mine as a router / switch / ap and then Plex / NAS / etc. as well all in one box. Keeps it simple and easy to manage things. NAS is a relative term as it's just file sharing like you would in Windows server. Nothing special other than enabling SMB / creating the share / assigning permissions. The old days of making everything complicated doesn't make sense.
 

BonzaiDuck

Lifer
Jun 30, 2004
15,669
1,422
126
First thing I would do is get rid of MSFT on the server and put Linux on it since it's more stable and you can get more functionality out of it.

You can skip the BS backup software and just put some cron jobs in for backup functionality.

Media storage shouldn't be an issue if you setup a raid EXT4 w/ SMB enabled to share the content. I've been running this setup for years and it's setup and forget for the most part until you make some changes.

Server <> OS disk <> Raid10 - I even run a cron to backup the system drive to the raid as an ounce of prevention even though I've never had an issue to this point. Then again I swap drives like they're candy as tech progresses and the server gets rebuilt.

I run mine as a router / switch / ap and then Plex / NAS / etc. as well all in one box. Keeps it simple and easy to manage things. NAS is a relative term as it's just file sharing like you would in Windows server. Nothing special other than enabling SMB / creating the share / assigning permissions. The old days of making everything complicated doesn't make sense.
I had used hardware RAID in the past. For the small number of users we had and for myself, I concluded that a drive-pool was perfectly sufficient. The software provides for folder and file duplication, or redundancy -- mistakenly judged by some people as "backup".

I think, today, I'll go upstairs to visit the server and swap in a 5TB 2.5" spinner for server local backup. I think I could also accommodate all the client/workstation backups as well as the important shared files, or everything but the entertainment media files.

See -- nobody keeps their tax returns and source documents going back twenty years -- the requirement is for 3 years, and after any adverse audit finding, about 7 years. But I have all that. I worry more about losing something recent that I may need. Or -- for instance -- the working accounting files, OUtlook backup files, etc. etc. so on and so forth.
 
Jul 27, 2020
13,172
7,828
106
What do you get for free, and what can you have for "not free"?
It's not free but it is unlimited for $7/mo as long as you let the BackBlaze software verify the data once a month. That means you can't just keep uploading stuff to it. You have to let BackBlaze confirm that all the data is available in your connected devices. This kinda puts a burden on people and prevents them from abusing the "unlimited" storage privilege. At least, that's how it was when I researched it a few years ago.
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
93,674
14,294
126
What do you get for free, and what can you have for "not free"?

This looks like a "Cloud" solution. Am I right? It's not something I won't consider.

Not free, but it is a offsite backup solution that is relatively inexpensive. You of course encrypt it before you thow it on the cloud. This is of course on top of having local backup.