Working from home? Protect your hard work

Hi, March 31st is #WorldBackupDay, an annual event that looks to remind people to back up their data before they lose it. With so many people working remotely on various devices and ransomware attacks due to Covid-19, data backup needs to be taken seriously shares, it’s even more important to back up the files on your computers. Backup is important to you and your business (Working from home? Protect your hard work). Instead of storing all your important files and data in one place (like your computer), you should keep another copy of everything somewhere safe. One small accident or failure could destroy all the important stuff you care about. This article provides a step by step guide to deploy Veeam Agent for Windows, install it and back up your computer or laptop to a USB Hard disk (or a network shared folder), piece of mind and very easy restores. Super easy to set up in a few minutes and free!

During Covid-19 confinement, users need to work from home. Good conditions to achieve it are:

  • Quiet office at home,
  • Device for home office (laptop, workstation, etc.),
  • Internet connection (sufficient Bandwidth),
  • Secure connection to the office (VPN) such as Veeam PN (free),
  • Digital Workplace solution such as Microsoft Teams,
  • Secure the laptop or workstation with a backup tool such as Veeam Agent for Windows (free),
  • Security considerations with private and unmanaged devices.

Personally, I’m strongly against jumping on the coronavirus topic as a vehicle to promote any paid products or services, as I find this simply immoral in the current circumstances (as I said in this post). So I immediately told myself I won’t advertise anything along these lines. Then, I realized this was actually safe to share, simply because Veeam Agent for Windows is for free (for workstation) and I use it on my own laptop.

In case of a disaster, with Veeam Agent for Windows, you can perform the following restore operations:

  • Start the OS from the Veeam Recovery Media and use Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows and standard Microsoft Windows tools to diagnose and fix problems.
  • Perform bare-metal restore.
  • Restore necessary data from backups to its original location or a new location (File Level Recovery).

Download Veeam Agent for Windows: www.veeam.com

Running the Installer:

Note: It is the same Installer for Free, Workstation and Server editions. When you will add your license file (“About” menu), the Agent unlocks the advanced features. In this demonstration, I will backup my laptop! The installation is very fast and the tool is easy to use.

Veeam Agent for Windows: You have to run the installation file “VeeamAgentWindows_4.0.0.1811.exe”.

Installation Wizard:

Once Veeam Agent for Microsoft Windows window is opened, accept the terms in the licence agreement and click on “Install” button.

Veeam files

The install take about few minutes to complete:

Veeam files

Next, a screen will appear and propose you to insert backup target as USB drive, etc. If you need to backup your workstation or server on a USB drive, you can plug it now. If you want to backup your data to a Veeam Repository, a NAS, Cloud Repository or other you should check “Skip this, I will configure back up later” box. Click on “Next” button.

My USB drive is connected:

You can check “Yes” button if you want Veeam Agent changes the power plan settings to allow daily backup to wake up the computer from sleep. The computer (workstation or server) will execute the backup in any state.

Veeam Wizard

Veeam Agent for Windows Install is completed, a prompt appeared to finalize the installation. I recommend you to create a Veeam Recovery Media will allow you to boot into the recovery environment and initiate so-called Bare Metal Restore. Very useful you can even include device drivers and network settings from your computer into the image. Check “Run Veeam Recovery Media creation wizard” box and click on “Finish” button.

Veeam Recovery Media Creation Wizard:

Then the wizard is detecting available media:

Veeam Wizard

You can specify bare metal recovery media options. I select an image type “ISO image file” as available bootable media and I check “Include network connections settings from this computer (recommended)” and “Include hardware drivers from this computer (recommended) to include drivers and network connections settings. Click on “Next” button.

Veeam Wizard

Specify where you want yo save the created ISO file by browsing the path target. Here I select my USB drive. Click on “Next” button.

Veeam Wizard

Veeam Recovery Media configuration is completed, a prompt appeared to finalize the installation. Click on “Create” button.

This may take a moment:

When the Recovery Media has been created, click on “Finish” button.

The size of my ISO file is 562 Mo.

Veeam Agent interface:

Veeam Agent icon will stay pin on the taskbar of your computer.

You should execute a right click on Veeam Agent icon and select “Control Panel” to access advanced configuration.

Upon opening Veeam Agent, you can perceive the user-friendly interface. Click on “ABOUT” tab.

You can check the version of your Veeam Agent for Windows and the edition, here “Free” Edition. You can also check if your version is up to date. If you need to change the edition (Free to Workstation or Free to Server), click on “Update license to get additional features”. In this context and during Covid-19 confinement you can use “Free” edition.

A prompt will appear, click on “Install” button to add the license file. I will add a license for Server edition to unlock the advanced features. Note in Server edition: there is full server support via application-aware processing (VSS) and job scheduler.

In this demo, I switch on Server mode.

Create a Backup Job:

Then you can create a backup job. Since the main interface, click on “Add New Job…” menu.

Once the wizard is launched, tape in a name and description:

Select the backup mode and click on “Next” button. I recommend you to select “Entire computer” mode to backup your entire computer image. Basically, it will depend on your backup plan and backup strategy. If you are an IT department and you have to back up many workstations, maybe the strategy will be different than backup two standalone servers! 😉

Veeam Wizard

Choose where you want to backup your data. So I don’t recommend you store your backups on the same computer that you are protecting (local drive)! The tool is flexible, you can backup to a locally attached storage device such as USB, eSATA external hard drive, etc. You can also choose “Shared folder “option to backup to a CIFS share such as a NAS device or on a regular file server. Then, you can choose “Veeam backup repository” option to backup the data to Veeam Backup and Replication environment (Veeam Backup Server). Finally, you can choose “Veeam Cloud Connect repository” to back up the data to a cloud repository managed by Veeam Cloud Connect service provider (Server Edition) or Microsoft OneDrive.

I select “Local storage” to back up my data on the USB drive. Click on “Next” button.

Veeam Wizard

Choose locally attached drive to backup to USB drive and the path folder. You can setting up the restore points to keep on disk like in Veeam B&R environment. Here: 14 points. Click on “Advanced” button.

Veeam Wizard

Like in Veeam B&R, you can configure synthetic full backup and active full backup. Veeam Agent for Windows lets you create active full backups and schedule creation of synthetic full backups on specific days. The active full backup produces a full backup of your computer, just as if you run the backup job for the first time. Veeam Agent retrieves data for the whole computer from the source, compresses and deduplicates it and stores it to the full backup file — VBK. In terms of data, the synthetic full backup is identical to a regular full backup. Synthetic full backup produces a VBK file that contains data of the whole computer. The difference between active and synthetic full backup lies in the way how computer data is retrieved. When you perform a synthetic full backup, Veeam Agent for Windows does not retrieve computer (workstation or server) data from the source volume. Instead, it synthesizes a full backup of data you already have on the backup destination (USB drive, NAS, etc.). Veeam Agent accesses the previous full backup file and a chain of subsequent incremental backup files on the backup destination consolidates computer data from these files and writes consolidated data into a new full backup file. As a result, the created synthetic full backup file contains the same data you would have if you created an active full backup.

Basically, it will depend on your backup plan and backup strategy such as GFS (Grandfather, Father, and Son) retention: Daily backup, weekly backup, and monthly backup.

In this example, I configure synthetic full backup each Saturday. Click on “OK” and on “Next” button.

Veeam Wizard

If you backup a Windows Server (Server edition) especially with a database, you should check “Enable application-aware processing” option. Microsoft’s Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) is Windows’ built-in infrastructure for application backups. As a native Windows service, VSS facilitates creating a consistent view of application data during the course of a backup. VSS relies on coordination between VSS requestors, writers, and providers for quiescence, or “to make quiet,” a disk volume so that a backup can be successfully obtained without data corruption. This option detects and prepares applications for consistent backup, performs transaction logs processing, and configures the OS to perform required application restore steps upon first boot.

You can also check “Enable file system indexing” to create an index of files and folders on the computer during backup. Guest file indexing allows you to search for individual files inside computer backups and perform a 1-click restore in. Click on “Next” button.

Veeam Wizard

Choose when you want a backup job to be started automatically. Here I run the job from Monday to Friday at 11:00 AM. Click on “Apply” and on “Finish” button.

Veeam Wizard

Check “Run the job when I click Finish” box and click on “Finish” button.

Veeam Wizard

The first backup job is in progress, you can click on the graph to show backup details:

Veeam Wizard

Backup performance is impressive (source: flash disk and target: local USB 3.0 drive):

Veeam Wizard

Like Veeam B&R, Veeam Agent creates a .VBM file for the catalog and .VBK file for the full backup. It’s really clean as with Veeam Backup Server!

Veeam Wizard

You can execute a second manual backup by clicking “Backup now”:

Veeam Wizard

Veeam Wizard

Veeam Wizard

Veeam Agent for Windows create .VIB file for the incremental backup:

Veeam Wizard

Restore Individual files:

I created a file named “Toto.txt” before last incremental backup. Now, I delete it.

Veeam Wizard

Veeam Wizard

You should execute a right click on Veeam Agent icon and select “Restore” tab then click on “Individual files”:

Veeam Wizard

A File Level Restore wizard is launched. First, you can select the restore point needed and click on “Next” button. I select the last restore point.

Veeam Wizard

Then, click on “Open” button.

Veeam Wizard

Veeam Agent is importing backup file:

Veeam Wizard

Veeam Agent will mount your volumes in the wizard:

Veeam Wizard

Select the target folder in the backup browser:

Veeam Wizard

Execute a right click on a deleted file (here “Toto.txt”) and select “Restore” then “Keep”. You can choose “Overwrite” if you want to erase an existing corrupted file.

Veeam Wizard

Veeam Wizard

Finally, You can check the folder. Veeam Agent added a prefix “RESTORED-” before the file name.

Veeam Wizard

 

At the moment, the trend is also for VPNs. So much the better because VPN is a best practice (security habit to build), especially in businesses. If your sent all your employees home and they are now struggling with your corporate network access, but you don’t have time or knowledge to build, optimize and maintain your own VPN infrastructure, Veeam PN to the rescue (working from home with Veeam PN Blog Post).

Hope this guide will help you! Veeam Agents for Windows is powerful. It can allow you to backup your physical workloads and workstations.

Working from home? Protect your hard work! Take care and #StayAtHome.

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Christopher GLEMOT

Data Protection & Governance Team Leader | Technical specialist around Data, Security, Backup, Disaster Recovery, Cloud, Virtualization and Storage | Veeam Vanguard 2016-19 & VMCE | Founder of ArmoricanCloud.com | Owner of original-network.com
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