Please help verifying if I'm on the right track using UrBackup

  • Edit: Formatting of questions *

Hi Everyone,

I’d like to verify if I’m on the right track using UrBackup for my purposes using your kind feedback :slight_smile:
I have put several questions in this post, please advise if I should split them to different posts.

Purpose:
- Backing up 3 Windows 10 clients in my LAN to backup about 8 TB in total, possibly more going forward.

Requirements:
- Stability, restorable differential image backups with the option to access individual files in the backups, e.g. by mounting backups as a file system via SMB.
- Ok to use file backup for non-system partitions.

Server: / Network
- TrueNAS using the UrBackup Plugin (got that up and running, so I can do tests now)
- TrueNAS is running on a Dell T20 server with 32GB RAM and a RAIDZ1 (ZFS)
- Network is a mixture of WiFi and PowerLine. I’m ok to connect clients via Ethernet for initial backup, but would like to avoid this afterwards.

Backup software history:
- Microsoft Windows Home Server; worked like a charm, but discontinued.
- Client backup included in Microsoft Windows Server Essentials; worked ok, however discontinued and managing a Microsoft Server feels like to much effort for my purposes.
- TrueNAS serving SMB network file system and using Acronis Backup as client software (I don’t like Acronis because it is not server-based and does not feel stable. Support recommends doing only very few incremental backups)
- (Now evaluating UrBackup on TrueNAS)

Questions:
- Any general comments regarding purpose, requirements and server/network?
- I’ve read that UrBackup VHD images support 2TB only. Currently not a problem, but I plan to have more. I’ve read BTRFS and ZFS images support more, but I can only select VHD / VHD compressed in UrBackup. Am I missing anything? Will I be in trouble with UrBackup if I need more space than 2 TB? Could I mount non-VHD backups via SMB using TrueNAS?
- I’d like to avoid full image backups and rather do incremental ones for network speed reasons. Is it ok to use incremental image backups only? Will the server discard old incremental backups, or do I need to run a full backup to get rid of the backup history?
- Is the commerical change block tracking option worth using? The per-client price would be ok, but I’d appreciate some feedback from users about the practical benefits they experienced.
- Windows offers a “file history” backup option. Is there any benefit using UrBackup over this file history and if so, which? I’ve read that UrBackup supports file-level deduplication across different clients, but in my case, I don’t expect benefit from this due to disjoint file sets.

Thanks for reading and TIA for your kind feedback!

Best regards,
Rolf

Hi there,
I am using UrBackup since about 3 years now. Started on NAS but moved to Windows later on. As I got a MSDN pro I have Windows Server with Deduplication running on a 5th gen NUC with SSDs now.

Purpose:

  • Backing up 3 Windows 10 clients in my LAN to backup about 8 TB in total, possibly more going forward - perfect fit, as free and no license limitations (that was the one what moved me away from Acronis and even Veeam)

Requirements:

  • Stability, restorable differential image backups with the option to access individual files in the backups, e.g. by mounting backups as a file system via SMB → absolutely stable, no issues so far
  • Ok to use file backup for non-system partitions. → file backup with exclusion lists is not that easy to set up (links inside user profiles will probably drive you crazy at the beginning, read the documentation multiple times and make your way)

Server: / Network

  • TrueNAS using the UrBackup Plugin (got that up and running, so I can do tests now) → can’t tell on this system
  • TrueNAS is running on a Dell T20 server with 32GB RAM and a RAIDZ1 (ZFS) → should be absolutely fine
  • Network is a mixture of WiFi and PowerLine. I’m ok to connect clients via Ethernet for initial backup, but would like to avoid this afterwards - Full image backups/full file backups depend largely on network speed, I got some ChangedBlockTracking licenses as I am also backing up across the internet - highly recommended on slow/low latency networks, also make sure that you read the documentation over and over to really understand each setting and make it fit to your needs

Questions:

  • Any general comments regarding purpose, requirements and server/network? → make sure you test at least each client once with the restore media and check if network and harddisk is available, if possible without risk also do a restore test (install another harddisk for testing etc) - you don’t want to backup and then be unable to restore the system drive image
  • I’ve read that UrBackup VHD images support 2TB only. Currently not a problem, but I plan to have more. I’ve read BTRFS and ZFS images support more, but I can only select VHD / VHD compressed in UrBackup. Am I missing anything? Will I be in trouble with UrBackup if I need more space than 2 TB? Could I mount non-VHD backups via SMB using TrueNAS? → I am using imagebackup only for the systemdrive, so if your system harddisk will stay below 2TB that should not be an issue (I was not even aware of this limitation), BTRFS and ZFS are filesystems not images btw; if you use any deduplication feature on the FS do not use compressed VHD
  • I’d like to avoid full image backups and rather do incremental ones for network speed reasons. Is it ok to use incremental image backups only? Will the server discard old incremental backups, or do I need to run a full backup to get rid of the backup history? → it’s possible to do incremental images and let the server then put those together, you will need to find a way that fits you between space needed, performance needed on client and server etc., but with 3 clients and not backing up to often that should not become an issue
  • Is the commerical change block tracking option worth using? The per-client price would be ok, but I’d appreciate some feedback from users about the practical benefits they experienced → CBT increases speed and decreases time needed for incremental images, highly recommended if you have stable OS installations (crashing will invalidate the CBT table in most cases) and to be honest: I should only do image backups and leave dedupe up to my server, but file backups work with symbolic linking and if you do not have deduplication on TrueNAS doing file backups with images is just a waste of space; if you have a lot of files on your data partitions, backup of those (even incremental) highly depends on network and client disk speed
  • Windows offers a “file history” backup option. Is there any benefit using UrBackup over this file history and if so, which? I’ve read that UrBackup supports file-level deduplication across different clients, but in my case, I don’t expect benefit from this due to disjoint file sets. → file dedupe in UrBackup is done by hashing, so file must be already there and identical to match and link; file history on Windows is only working with local drives as far as I know and is only a backup of changed/saved versions and by far no complete backup; it is also running on the same device and if I remember correct that drive can even be seen - over-current/over-voltage/ransomware etc. will kill your local file history, do not use this as backup, just as version history for files

Kind regards,
Matthias

Hi Matthias,

Thank you so much for your detailed reply!

I’m currently trying image backups only, differential takes about 3 hours over WiFi, so I’ll for sure give the CBT driver a try. Good point to try restoring, especially since mounting image backups on the client does not work for me yet, but I’m sure I’ll figure this out.

Regarding file backup vs. Windows file history, considering ransomware is a good point!

As to block-level deduplication of the server file system: I don’t use it with ZFS, as it takes excessive amounts of RAM for good performance and I don’t want the complexity of configuring it via SSD.

Keeping the system drive small and dedicated to the system is probably a good practice anyway, I’ll keep this in mind.

Best regards,
Rolf