Using Active Directory for Centralized Backup Software

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Workstation access for backup has to be centralized. Anybody will find making and managing all the reserve data copies from a single point to be truly convenient. But what if we logically expand this desire and try to set up a remote version of this solution?

Good news are this can be achieved with Active Directory. Any centralized backup software using this can be truly helpful (especially, in case of 10 or more workstations).

Active Directory contains a very useful feature which allows for Administrators to automatically deploy software to machines or users automatically when the machine is booted or a user logs on. As usual, to apply all of these, you have to check some things first.

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Configuring Windows 8 Network Access

We assume, you will be deploying software to a set of machines in which the user does not have local admin rights, so this workstation access for backup guide will focus on the process to deploy to the computers via the Computer Configuration GPO setting. Firstly, you have to ensure the MSI installer files works as you planned.

Dealing with Windows 8 network access you should remember, that if an installer attempts to set HKEY_Current_User registry keys, that process will fail since there is no user logged onto the machine during the software deployment, so no HKEY_Current_User registry section is available.

If you require HKEY_Current_User registry keys to be set, split your MSI installer file into two parts, and define the software installation in the Computer Configuration GPO section, and the HKEY_Current_User registry updates in the User Configuration GPO section.

Defining the GPO and Package Object for the Backup Server

To set up your Windows 8 network access, create a share on a server, and allow Domain Computers at least READ access to the share. Copy the MSI installation file to the share and ensure it also allows for Domain Computers READ access.

Now, to set up the things for your backup server, create the Group Policy Object in the Active Directory Users and Computers application:

  1. Right click on the OU you wish to define the GPO and select Properties.
  2. Click the Group Policy tab and click New.
  3. Type a descriptive name for this new GPO. Be sure to prefix the name with your Section/Division to provide ambiguity.
  4. Click the Properties button, then select the Security tab. Add the Domain Computers group (or edit the existing Authenticated Users group) and assign the READ and APPLY GROUP POLICY rights.
  5. Click on the Edit button to edit this new Group Policy. Expand the Computer Configuration\Software Settings tree on the left side of the screen. Right-click Software Installation tree option and select the menu item New\Package.
  6. An Open File dialog box should appear. Type in the UNC path to the server share where the MSI installer file is located. Select the appropriate MSI installer file and click Open.
  7. Select the Assign radio button and click OK. Published will not automatically install the MSI installer file, but instead place an entry in the local Add/Remove Programs utility for manual installation later. Advanced will give you the ability to change certain properties such as the Package Name.
  8. Right click on the Package Object and select Properties.
  9. Click on the Security tab and add Domain Computers (or Authenticated Users) to the security permissions.
  10. Click the Advanced tab and select Domain Computers (or Authenticated Users) and click Edit. Assign the List Contents, Read All Properties and Read Permissions checkboxes are selected.
  11. Close the Group Policy window.
  12. Close the GPO window.
  13. Wait about 10-15 minutes for your changes to be replicated to the other Domain Controllers, then reboot.

Verifying Installation for Workstation Network Backup

After rebooting a workstation contained within the OU you defined the GPO Software Deployment policy for, an information box should appear on the screen after the Applying Security Settings messages.

The message will be stating that it is installing the MSI package along with the name you defined in the Package Object advanced properties, or defaulting to the deployment name within the MSI installation file.

  1. After the workstation boots, log in and open the Event Viewer.
  2. Navigate to the Applications Event Viewer.
  3. A successful installation will have three informational entries indicating a successful MSI deployment. Check the Event Viewer message to see if there are any errors.
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This guide on setting the workstation access for backup can be applied not only to Handy Backup, but, basically, to any solution, that has Active Directory support. We hope this helps. Good luck!

See also: Workstation Backup Solution


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