Backup automation part 1: Deploying backup devices

You just signed your first new backup client. The initial backup deployment should be a trivial step compared to the hours of data processing and terabytes of data uploads that are soon to follow—right? While it should be a quick step which doesn’t complicate new customer onboarding, sometimes it doesn’t happen that way. Read on to learn how to save time, effort, and frustration while deploying SolarWinds Backup.

Deployment at scale

You’ve just completed your first production end-user backup deployment, just 73 more to go. Now you’re a dozen clicks into the next one (after taking the time to ensure the user is online and you have a remote connection) and you’ve identified the files or volumes that need protecting.

That’s when the phone rings. It’s end user number one with an emergency call. The backup has consumed most of their home internet upload bandwidth. It seems you forgot about pesky things like bandwidth throttling and operational hours. Maybe initial backup deployment is not that trivial after all.

Even with all the possible complexities an organization, end user, or pandemic may impose, many backup devices will still share common protection settings and each one typically does not need to be separately configured for backup, meaning that there is an easier way.

Backup policies and profiles

Knowing what data you want to protect and how frequently you want to protect it is critical to defining a useful backup profile or policy. These can be defined for individual customers and sites or at a parent level and reused to ensure consistency of data protection within and across organizations. In most cases around 90% of your protected devices should be able to be covered with just a handful of profiles. If you find yourself with many more profiles than this, you are likely making them too specific. This leaves you with about 10% of your devices that may need very specific data protection settings, selections, exclusions, schedules, etc.

Automatic deployment

Automated deployment is a feature of SolarWinds® Backup that can create a single OS installation package, which can be used and reused to deploy servers or workstations at a customer or location. Each device is automatically assigned a unique name based on its NetBIOS name and a system managed encryption key. This method helps eliminates much of the time and human error involved with individually creating and authorizing each backup device before deployment.

Remote commands

Remote commands can be used to apply bulk setting to previously deployed backup devices. For example, maybe you want to set a GUI password to restrict access to the local backup client. Other uses could be to extended data retention by adding an end-of-month archive schedule to dozens of devices all at the same time. The benefit of remote commands is that they are queued in the cloud until the device comes back online, so there is no need to remotely access the protected device.

Backup integration

One of the simplest methods of automating deployment is by adopting the edition of SolarWinds Backup that is integrated with your SolarWinds RMM or N-central® platform. Both editions offer deployment options that require just a few clicks. You can even apply filters, rules, profiles, and policies to ensure that as new servers and workstation are brought under management that backup is automatically downloaded and installed and include the right selections and schedules with no additional interaction.

Automation manager

Both SolarWinds RMM and N-central support deployment and monitoring of the standalone edition of SolarWinds Backup using Automation manager policies (AMP). These AMP files use the automatic deployment feature, to download, install the software, and assign profiles for the specified end customer, all while maintaining full access to the complete feature set of SolarWinds Backup. I’ve placed several sample Backup deployment AMP files for RMM and N-central in the Automation Cookbook.

Command line

Automatic and manual deployments can both be performed silently from the command line using a variant of switches and syntaxes to adjust the configuration. The items that can’t be set during initial deployment can later be set using remote commands in the GUI or with the ClientTool.exe command line interface.


Custom scripts open a whole new realm of possibilities when it comes to the initial backup deployment. Standalone Backup users have full access to the backup API, CLI, ClientTool.exe, Remote commands as well as the silent installer and Automatic deployment features. I’ve already taken the liberty of providing a PowerShell based universal deployment script for SolarWinds Backup. Basic functions include new automatic deployments, document deployments, remove, reinstall, upgrades, as well assigning products, profiles and alias names to devices. If you want to later come in and bulk apply settings, such as a GUI password, set an archive schedule, or assign a Backup profile. These are just a few of the examples of what can be done though scripting.  I’ll cover more of my sample scripts during my recurring boot camp and office hours sessions. Please feel free to register to attend those or schedule a one-to-one meeting here.


Eric Harless is the Head Backup Nerd at SolarWinds MSP. Eric has worked with SolarWinds Backup since 2013 and has 25+ years of data protection industry experience in sales, support, marketing, systems engineering and product management. You can follow Eric on Twitter at @backup_nerd