Preston Gralla

Will bad backups doom Windows Home Server?

January 08, 2007 1:06 PM EST
Microsoft just announced it's working on Windows Home Server, which among other features, will automatically back up files on all PCs in the home. But if the product uses the same kind of brain-dead backup built into Windows Vista, this is a product that will be dead on arrival.

The backup tool built into Windows Vista may be the worst utility every packed into an operating system. It doesn't allow you to back up individual files, folders or even file types. Instead, you have to back up every single file and folder of broad generic types.

For example, if you want to back up a single picture, you have to back up every single graphic of every graphic file type on your entire PC, including all the graphics that Vista itself uses. This means you can be forced to back up hundreds of gigabytes of files if you only want to back up a few family photos.

Don't be surprised if Microsoft uses this same technique with Windows Home Server. I've talked to Microsoft honchos about the awful backup in Windows Vista, and they insist they did it because they didn't want to confuse people with too many choices about backup.

Considering that Windows Home Server will be aimed at the broadest possible audience, Microsoft may well use the same twisted logic there as well.

If so, that would be too bad. The day of the connected home with multiple PCs has been with us for years, and many of us badly need some kind of inexpensive, easy-to-manage central file server. It would be too bad if Microsoft crippled it by basing it on bad backup software.