Feedback from a new user - mainly Windows use

I’m old to computers, but new to Duplicati. I came over here when Crashplan got its end of life warning.

I am going to use this thread to feedback my experiences of using Duplicati.

Generally I am coming to the forum, reading the FAQ and searching for my issues. This is showing up a few holes in the documentation that I would like to be able to help to fill.

I used to be a developer back in the day, but now I am a small IT engineer looking after home PCs and small business (usually below five people). My backups are generally Windows based using OneDrive, Network Shares and USB drives.

OneDrive Backups - nice and simple
Funnily enough, my first comment is about how well that OneDrive backup works. That one was the easiest to setup. :smiley: Overall it has been almost comical as to how fast it is to setup Duplicati. So all is good in the majority.

Text format of a Windows Network Path
When backing up to a Windows Network Folder can some different text formatting be allowed for when entering a path. Windows paths are more usually \\Computer\Share\Folder\ so it is pretty confusing and unnatural to need to enter Computer/Share/Folder/

Yes, I understand the *nix roots in all of this, but a bit of text processing will save some confused heads.

Edit: Need to add to this. It was the lack of error messages that caused the above confusion. Running as a service Duplicati cannot access the network. But instead of saying that in an error message I thought it was complaining about the path being wrong… so I ended up with a local relative path in error and Duplicati happily backed up to the Program Files folder instead (!!)

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Backup to LAN

I have a strange problem on a new install. New Win10 Pro PC - fresh install of Windows, no Office.

Looks like the Visual Studio 2017 package was missing from the install - and this is way to cryptic to track down.

I have a confused setup going on there. It was installed, setup as a service, new backup configured, LAN location tests as writable, and backup looks like it is working. BUT errors appear on some (not all) files. Otherwise it looks like it works.

Yet there is nothing in the backup folders!?!?

I look in the logs and see errors about a dll. A search of the forum pointed at the VisualStudio package missing. So I installed that, rebooted, tried again… and still no success. But now the error about the dll has gone.

The log files are a little too cryptic as that dll error was clearly major - but Duplicati was acting as if all was well.

For example: why is it that I put in a path of server\share\folder\ and supply username\password. I then press the test button and it asks me if it can create the folder (even though it already exists). I say yes, test claims all is well and we continue. Yet no new folder was created, and no backup files appeared (yet they seemed to be going somewhere…) Odd.

I had too many other tasks to do to get deep into testing on that one, so I will go back and poke at it some more until I work out what is going on. I’ll probably just clear it all out again and start fresh.

My try of Computer/Share/Folder (without any leading slash) on put “Test connection” work in the current directory of Duplicati.Server.exe which is C:\Program Files\Duplicati 2 (per Process Explorer) but possibly varies. Duplicati updates run from the update directory, so maybe the current directory is there.

For the UNC path problem, I’m seeing few forum complaints, however there was some discussion in topic Service Install Backup to UNC Paths. My own attempt ran into some problems, but it’s to an old share in a somewhat unknown condition, so I’m not willing to blame Duplicati too quickly. Could you say your result?

EDIT: or maybe you did in the second post, however that’s not a UNC path either? The forum software can sometimes eat a backslash (perhaps to quote the next character, as UNIX shells do), but I see none at all. This makes me notice that when I quoted your original post with two backslashes, it showed as an asterisk and a backslash. I just made that three backslashes, and at least the preview is showing two, as I desired.

@ts678 I am not totally following your reply. So to confusing things more I’ll work backwards. :wink:

Yes, you spotted that this forum messes with double slashes. I did make sure what appeared visible on my post is what I meant. In Windows you name a network share location with \ \ c o m p u t e r \ s h a r e \ f o l d e r \

The computer name there can also be replaced with the IP Address of the machine involved. My suggestion is mainly asking the devs to look for both types of slashes and swap as needed. Just a bit of text processing for us Windows users.

This Discourse forum will see two \ characters and then messes with them in some way. So I needed to type four to display two. The Stars you got when copy and pasting is from the way this forum does bold.

Okay… back to your main reply. When I get back to the PC on Monday Morning I’ll go check if the files are getting written to the C:\Program Files\Duplicati 2\ folder. It would be worrying if anything is being written there as that is a big no-no in Windows. It should be in the %ProgamData% folder. The Program Files folder is just for the application files. Not since the days of Win98 was that ever a thing. XP still allowed it, but by Vista and onwards plenty of security trips were put in your way to persuade the programmer to do things correctly.

I have read the thread you have linked… and that is a worrying one to read. Especially as there didn’t seem to be a solution. This could be why I am seeing issues with the backup. I need to run as a service and backup over the LAN as I have ID-10T users who tend to leave email programs open and I need that datastore backed up using VSS. My LAN access is using full credentials to login to the share with, and is testing fine. Just nothing in the folder after backup has run.

Anyway - I have more investigations to do before reporting any real issues. I may just have an installation issue here.

Fully Qualified vs. Relative Paths might be worthwhile reading on how paths should be specified on Windows. Omitting a leading slash could be dangerous unless you’re certain you know how the path will be interpreted. Possibly Duplicati could refuse such requests as an enhancement, and require the user to enter the full path.

As far as I can see from the above, Microsoft would like UNC paths to start with a double backslash, however something goes wrong in the network connection, at least for me – could you say what failed when you tried?

From the original post, what forced you away from two leading backslashes into a vastly different format that I’m not at all certain is saying the same thing (which would mean one can’t be text-processed into the other)? The second one looks more like a relative path (relative to current directory) to me than it does a UNC share.

I’ve seen hints that there is a Windows restriction on SMB from the NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM account Duplicati service uses. I’m curious if anybody else has ever gotten SMB to work from a service. If it only works from the Tray Icon as a normal user, then one option might be to have the service run as the user instead of SYSTEM.

But this is getting too far ahead, and too speculative. First, let’s see if your missing backup went to your drive.

Yes, but thanks to Windows I considered it too hokey to deal with. It either required screwing with the system account (giving it access to the network) or using a dedicated user account (which means if the password ever changes I have to remember to update it in the service too).

As an alternative I started using --run-script-before-required and --run-script-after tasks to map / unmap the a drive letter. Yes - this left passwords in plain text in the script file, but that wasn’t a problem for my environment.

Eventually, I gave up and just switched to SFTP on my server, even though all my backups are local.

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@ts678 - thanks, but please don’t try and teach me how to do UNC paths on Windows. I have been working in networking since the 1990s. It looks more like this is the issue with running as a service, but the error messages are a little vague.

@JonMikelV The drive mapping is a useful backup as I can still use specific username and password pairs.
This is also an environment I am not too fussed about password visibility. If they can read the password then that means they already have access to the PC.

I have a separate user setup for the backups as I was trying to play a small security game with any LAN based virus aiming to get Duplicati to work with different credentials to the desktop user.

I’m going to go deeper in some experiments and see what I an achieve. I would really like to help here and if I can pull out useful knowledge from my own Windowz background to get this side working I would be more than happy. Many of my target environments are only three PCs in a room where I wanted a buddy\buddy backup chain.

This is also accelerating an alternate solution of my own. I was considering running a home cloud server of my own that I then rent to my clients as “off site backup”. I’m now looking closer at getting that going as is will be more sensible than LAN backup anyway.

My aim is to backup open Outlook mailstores across a network. This is why I am tripping up. (Especially because the first time I did this was from a normal user account… which backed up fine over the network)

The more I think about the limitations of a service to access the network, it is sounding like I really need to setup a whole “MrBackup” admin user from each PC that is going to backup. Or just map\unmap the path during the backup.

Whichever route I go I’ll be back to document the gotchas as the error messages on the set backup path page were misleading me.

It sounds like you’ve got some good plans to work towards. :clap:

I agree there are rough edges with UX and error handling / reporting, but we’re still smoothing out some functional issues related to recent updates so haven’t taken any time to work on improving the “self help” side of things.

But reports like yours can definitely help guide where more polish could be added. :slight_smile:

As for your centralized off-site backup idea, I know many users have used the S3 compatible Minio app for the destination. If you want additional features beyond storage NextCloud / OwnCloud might be worth looking into as well.

@JonMikelV I am also an ex-dev so know all about decent feedback. You guys are caught up in the complex mechanics of making this thing work. So I am taking plenty of notes on what I am seeing to polish the GUI to make it more idiot proof.

Didn’t get much time to look at this today, but did get confirmation as to what happened with the backups. The “Run as a service” option is why the paths had messed up and @ts678 was right in guessing these were being dropped into the Program Files folders.

I will experiment a bit more about how the Service logs on and see if I can get some combination to work.

What would help a lot for the average support guy like me who is too busy to read a manual is some more descriptive error messages.

As I said, I am taking notes so will drop this feedback in a larger complete mass instead of these babbled thoughts.

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I am hitting a wall here on the LAN backup. I’m stuck in an all Windows environment. Need to run Duplicati “As a service” so it will backup locked files (mailstores). But this means no LAN access.

I tried doing the “map a network drive” method, but that destination can’t be seen by the Duplicati service either.

I was thinking of installing NFS on the destination machine - but am then at a bit of a loss as to how to address that from the Duplicati client.

I seem to have run out of options for “simple LAN backup”. Will try a few more options today and add findings to this thread. Been too long since I messed around with user accounts and rights on Windows.

Giving up on SMB for now. There has to be some simple option for a LAN, but I can’t find it yet.

Have swapped to FTP for now. Am experimenting with FileZilla Server on the destination PC. Changing of port numbers and a user account will help. Only using FTP internal to the LAN with no external access.

Not sure how this affects the backup speed. Initial tests are just plain FTP - the (S) bit will come later.

This needs writing in LARGE letters to stop other Windows users wasting time trying to get backups to work across the LAN.

“Running as a Service” is a natural thing for us Windozers - we need the backup to run when other users are logged in. Or we need to backup a locked file like a mailbox. So Duplicati has to be “run as a service” to allow this to happen, but then we don’t have LAN access…

I am now playing with different options for the server. I know and trust FileZilla Server and have that running happy across the LAN. So I have “Backup to FTP” working. The next question is - do I bother going deeper into SFTP if I am just on the LAN?

In one example I am in a building of six PCs and Sod’s Law says the one with the spare big hard disk in it is Win10 Home. So I need dumb simple software to run on something like that. Hence the FileZilla option.

Anyone know of an SFTP option that can run? (And don’t say “build a linux box” or “use a Pi” as I am trying to do minimal changes to the hardware currently in use. The Pi option is for a different day \ different experiment)

Error Message Feedback
One problem I am having is in understanding the error logs. They are way too verbose for me at times. Especially when sometimes the “error” is not really an error.

Example: Duplicati is “Running as a service” and I want to uninstall it.

I go to an Admin command prompt.
Swap to the Duplicati folder.
I stop and delete the service, and then uninstall

sc stop duplicati
sc delete duplicati
Duplicati.WindowsService.exe uninstall

This gives an error. The error is that the service has already been deleted. So it is not really an error…

I also saw a similar set of non-errors when I installed the service twice on top of itself. I think in that case it told me the error was “Service already running” but in that situation I could not work out if this was a problem or not.

Missing Visual Studio 2018 package
Other confused errors appeared when I was on a fresh Win10 x64 PC. I think my first attempt of running as a service spat out errors due to the missing VCDist package… but those messages were a bit too cryptic to make sense of as I was having all kind of other problems that day.

It especially needed the package on an Old WIN10 x86 PC. More errors were triggered on there when I ran the Duplicati Installer before I had run the VC update.

Currently I am learning a lot as I try and set this up in different locations. Some of my feedback is from my errors in understanding how things work. This thread has various mistakes of mine. As I learn more I’ll make the comments in here more focused.

Originally I was disappointed that Duplicati has SFTP but not FTPS listed. But it appears that FTPS is an advanced option for either of the two FTP options. Making it more directly visible as a protocol may help.

FTP over TLS and FTPS using Explicit TLS howto (Server) may help Filezilla users who want to try it out.

For SFTP, various ones are mentioned in the forum. Bitvise has a How-To, but I think some license limits.

While I find home Windows shares to be hard and unpredictable (I wonder if enterprises have it easier?), sometimes I can make them do what I want. For Duplicati, give UI a UNC path, Username, and Password. Duplicati for this test is running as a Windows Service as default SYSTEM user. This backup worked OK.

Microsoft says that Drive letters are not global to the system, and Network Neighborhood is fading away, therefore Duplicati is probably limited in what it can do. It looks like it adds shares, no NET USE needed.

I’m a Crashplan refugee as well and I would just to like to say that I’ve been using Windows shares as backup destinations for a long time without issue. I found it more reliable than SFTP when I started using Duplicati almost a year ago. Never had any reason to change it. I am backing up a small tax office 4 states away from me (mom’s business! :slight_smile: ), using Duplicati on all workstations backing up to the the main workstation through Windows shares. These are all running as a service so I can use VSS to capture Quickbooks and Outlook files, no problem. I set it up this way to facilitate fast local restores when needed, at the cost of using up some local side storage. Using a local destination also ensures the backup is never missed due to their internet going out. I then use a different open source product called Syncthing to synchronize the Duplicati folder over the internet to my server in the basement. I don’t really trust SFTP since I cannot predict the reliability of their internet 100%. Syncthing is persistent and will immediately continue synchronizing if there are any network problems and has worked wonderfully for my purposes. I’ve been keeping a daily backup since September, the first workstation I set up over there has 317 versions available taking up about 50 GB with their offsite backup many states away, synchronized within a few minutes of any files being written.

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Thanks for the input. I use Syncything as well (so far without issues) but would suggest you do some small test restores from BOTH locations.

At 50G copying out all locally to do a small restore would take a while, so make sure you know what’s involved OR have a method (FTP?) for Duplicati to directly access the Syncthing destination. (If FTP isn’t an option, consider thr ZeroTier VPN.)

@BatterPudding, keep the comments coming! Many of them (like errors) I agree with but time just hasn’t shown up to allow updating it.

I may try and look at a #howto for LAN backups with Duplicati Windows service to help ease others following in your footsteps. :slight_smile:

Oh, and if you want to contribute then feel free to make your own #howto on what you did to get FileZilla FTP Server running on Windows 10 Home. :wink:

Oh I’ve done all kinds of testing to makes sure this works for me. I did a disaster recovery scenario where I lost complete access from the backup source 4 states away. On my server, I simply added a new backup with the Syncthing folder (which is already local and 100% synchronized) as the destination for the backup, repaired the DB and I was back in business, ready to restore any and all versions. Bonus: The backup source has “Send Only” enabled, so when I re-enabled the synchronization, the original backup source is safe from changes on my end. I have also done at least a few actually-needed restores for the users on their end with no problems.

I had the same issue but am now running Duplicati as a service using VSS on one of the Win 10 home systems here and backing up directly to a SMB share sitting on a ‘Open Media Vault’ NAS.
The path I use is \\ComputerName-or-IP.address\share-name/folder/folder

Thanks All :slight_smile:

@TPSMono and @Daine I wonder what it is that I am missing with my LAN setup then. Which user does your service login as? I just can’t get mine to behave.

I have noticed your funky path there. Maybe that is part of it for me.

I’ve been dealing with Windoze network shares for years, so I know that side is setup to work correctly. I can test from the PC fine. It is just that last little link across from Duplicati as a Service. Which user is it supposed to login as? I thought I had tried login as SYSTEM as noted by @ts678

@JonMikelV The FTP Server as destination method was comically simple to setup. Though I then proceeded to break it by trying FTPS and TLS login. @ts678 has saved me some testing time there by pointing out no FTPS in Duplicati. I did look at SFTP but the Bitvise is a “non-commercial use” application, so not an option for me.

I will be taking my test version of the FTP Server solution over to a client shortly. I’ll take some screenshots during setup for that one. As this is within the LAN then plain FTP should be fine. The FTP server will not have an external WAN port.

Both the “Backup to Windows LAN when running as a Service” and “Backup to FTP Server” are due to get mini HOWTOs written up by me. I want to feed back in what I have learnt.