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Backup Device Opinions

Posted on 2000-05-04
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I work for a small business that has one NT4 server, 4 Win98 laptops, and one Win2K workstation.  I need to implement a backup strategy that will do the following:
1) Daily backups of all new/changed data files on all machines nightly (approx. 1 gb),
2) Complete data backups of all machines weekly (approx. 15 gb)
3) Complete system backups of all machines monthly (approx. 50 gb)

We are connected via a 100mb Ethernet LAN.  I would like to hook up the backup as an external device to my workstation (Win2K) via either Parallel or USB (the server is too slow).  Speed is nice, but not totally imporant since the backups will occure at night.  I would like to keep the price below $700.

I need opinions/suggestions on methods that others use to accomplish similar tasks in regards to hardware, software, reliablility, speed, method of backup and cost.  Thanks in advance!
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Question by:bmccleary
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by:rayt333
ID: 2779323
Why not just add another (or 2 or more) HD to the server to back everything up to?

Parallel port will be slow  (5 GB per night?)
USB not much better for files of this size
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by:rayt333
ID: 2779326
oops I misread that is 1GB total, not each machine??
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by:netmage
ID: 2779376
Whoa...
I think you want backup overkill here.

Consider a strategy.
700$......

Every piece of changing data should be saved to the server and not a workstation.
Realising that laptops get disconnected, get the users to copy thier work data to the server when they reconnect.
Its thier work and they don't want to lose it so they will comply with this simple request.

Use a Tape backup nightly to automatically save this information.
A seagate/veritas solution using a scsi tape unit should be fine.
Use incremental or complete backup as you require.



Regarding individual machines:

Consider that an NT or win2000 users profile is maintained at the server.

The data capacities you mention mean parallel or USB will be very slow.
 
You may wish to use Norton "Ghost" to create HD partiton copies to a large capacity mobile drive that can be plugged into the parallel port of all machines.

Just do a different machine each night.

Restoring ghost partitions is simple using this method.
Just plug in the mobile drive, boot from a floppy with ghost.exe, select the archived drive and restore. No network interaction required.


 


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by:magarity
ID: 2779412
bmccleary,

Hi, I have pondered your situation and here are some thoughts:

As ryat points out, a backup device on a parallel port would take weeks to do the 50Gb server backup, so forget it.  USB on the other hand, has a theoretical max of 12Gbits, or 1/8 the speed of your lan, so it might be feasible to do something on a USB port.

BUT

Why, within two sentences, do you say that the server is too slow so you want to use your workstation but at the same time you don't care so much about speed since backups will be done at night?

Any device capable of getting all 50GB from the server unattended (ie: on one tape or cartridge) will not be buyable on your given budget.  These devices start in the $900-1000 range plus a SCSI card (another $100) and the media are fairly costly.

Your most likely solution:

"Travan" style tape drives come in capacities of up to 20GB.  Prices begin at $250, well within your budget.  They use the EIDE interface and thus would have to be installed inside a machine, whether your server or your workstation.  Both Win9x and WinNT support these style devices, which are made by a wide variety of manufacturers such as Seagate, HP, IBM, Sony, and many others.  ("Travan" is NOT a proprietary format!).

WinNT can back up regular data files from networked drives as long as the remote drives have their permissions set apropriately.  Win98 can do so to a lesser degree, especially since NT is security concious and will not allow system files and such to be backed up over a network without more fiddling than I know how to tell you to do.

So:  A 'Travan' style drive in the 20GB capacity from your favourite manufacturer installed in your NT server sounds like the best route.  Daily backups of the working files as well as the complete data files could be done without anyone needing to swap tapes.  Complete system backups requiring 3 Travan tapes for 50GB would require someone to swap tapes.

Let me know if I can clear any of my suggestions up or if this leads you in the right direction.

regards,
magarity
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magarity earned 200 total points
ID: 2779449
Just as a quick followup to the above:

I found one company making a USB tape backup drive.  Here is its spec sheet on Multiwave.com which is an online retailer:

http://direct.mwave.com/mwave/doc/180157.html

Notice that the USB tape device transfers 'up to .75 Mb per second'.

50GB/.75MB per second/60 seconds in a minute/60 minutes in an hour = 18.5 hours to do the complete system backup.

Here is an example of a Travan TR5 format drive made by Seagate:

http://direct.mwave.com/mwave/doc/233559.html

Transfer speed is 2Mb per second or more than twice the USB's.
50GB/2MB per second/60 seconds/60 minutes = 6 hours

Here is another thing to consider:  USB is not supported by WinNT, so even if you intend for the present to use it with your workstation, you'll never be able to change your mind.  The USB one also costs $100 more, though this is mainly because it is an external device.  Travan drives come in external versions as well.

How important is it that this be an external device, and is this requirement so that you can move it from machine to machine?  You've got a LAN so this can't be too important, I'd think.  The 50GB complete system backup is going to take *forever* on external devices as the parallel port ones are about the same speed as the USB one unless you spend about $1500 to get an external SCSI DAT drive.

regards,
magarity
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by:j2
ID: 2779835
In my opinion Travan is not suited for "professional use". It's slow, searching takes forever and uses the same tape traverse mechanism as the old QIC40 drives. I have snapped a few travan tapes, after only about 50 cycles of use. I would stick to SCSI driven DDS / AIT / Tandberg drives. Yes they cost more, but what is your data worth?
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by:bmccleary
ID: 2781306
rayt333 - thanks for the input, but I want to keep at least the complete backup at a secure location (away from office).
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netmage - again - good info.  It sound like external is going to be impractical.  Ghost sounds too difficult though.  The laptops are always connected here at night and I just want a simple command that I can run from the server to initiate the backup from all the machines.
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magarity - very indepth, thanks alot!  Here are my questions for you:
- Is Taravan similar to what rayt333 mentioned as veritas?
- If I did use an internal device on the server, would SCSI be the way to go?
- Can I theoretically develop a one click backup strategy where everyting but the complete backup would be unattended every night?
- When you were speaking of problems backing up system files over a network, were you speaking of backing up W98 files from the NT server, or vice versa?
- I have heard alot about the OnStream backup devices.  How do these compare to the Taravan?
- Will any of these solutions work if I upgrade the server to Win2K
- Finally, have you experienced J2's problem of searching and reliability on Taravan drives?
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j2 - What are those different drives you mentioned? How much more?
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by:magarity
ID: 2781495
- Is Taravan similar to what rayt333 mentioned as veritas?
'Veritas' is Seagate's backup software.  Seagate makes Travan capable drives as well as other formats.

- If I did use an internal device on the server, would SCSI be the way to go?
Absolutely!  Here is a link to a closest SCSI tape drive to your budget and capacity:  (This is the product info page of an online dealer called Dirt Cheap Drives.  Despite their somewhat hokey name, this is a very reputable retailer.)

http://www.dirtcheapdrives.com/sony/
The SDT9000AIS would be the best choice with its 12-24GB capacity for $709.  Add to this the cost of a basic SCSI controller from, say, Tekram, for another $35.   DCDrives has too many frames and I can't cut out the individual address for the SCSI cards...  Add to that another $115 for a 5 pack of 125 meter tape and you have a total of $859 plus shipping.  This is going to come in at about $180 over your stated budget of $700 BUT IF YOU CAN SWING IT, this is *definitely* the superior choice.  You'll notice that this Sony drive's transfer speed pushes 144 MB/sec and will thus will do your 50GB backup in .9 hours, not counting the time it takes you to swap tapes.

- Can I theoretically develop a one click backup strategy where everyting but the complete backup would be unattended every night?
Oh, this isn't a theory at all.  It's common practise.  WinNT's backup applet will do all the basics of what you want to do, which is another argument for putting it on the server.  It also has an unattended mode, so once configured you just leave a tape in it and every night at whenever it will do its thing.

- When you were speaking of problems backing up system files over a network, were you speaking of backing up W98 files from the NT server, or vice versa?
NT's security is unamused at requests by a 98 machine for NT to hand over system files.  98 is rather simple and can be convinced to do this more easily.

- I have heard alot about the OnStream backup devices.  How do these compare to the Taravan?
Onstream is a manufacturer and not a standard.  As such, they make Travan tape drives.  I used them as an example of a USB external device because it was the first one I located.

- Will any of these solutions work if I upgrade the server to Win2K
The Sony SCSI (or any other SCSI) mentioned above will continue to function the same under win2k as will any Travan device.  USB support is still sketchy at best under 2k.

- Finally, have you experienced J2's problem of searching and reliability on Taravan drives?
I have used the predecessor Qic style tapes.  Yes, they were horribly slow.  I only bought 3COM tapes and never had one break.  I currently have a Tandberg SCSI tape drive.  SCSI is definitely the way to go, but in my recommendations I really try to follow the letter of people's requirements and SCSI in your needed capacity isn't going to happen for under $700.

regards and thanks for the A grade,
magarity
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by:magarity
ID: 2781502
Whoops, that 144MB/sec is burst to the 2MB buffer.  Sustained rates are going to be in the 3 to 4 MB/sec range.  50GB/3mb per sec/60 seconds/60 minutes = 3 hours to do the complete backup.
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by:magarity
ID: 2781549
One final consideration to boost a DAT SCSI drive:

On the above mentioned online dealer, a 5 pack of DAT tapes in 24GB capacity is $115 while a 5 pack of Travan TR5 20GB tapes is $220.

In the long run, the SCSI drive's price difference will be made up in the lower cost of DAT tapes.
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by:j2
ID: 2781985
the reason the Travans break easily (or rather "More easily") then other architectures is they usually have some kind of "hyperspooling" to make up for the slow access (meaning they move the tape very fast) and since travan tapes are moved by capstans and not on the tape spools, you be the judge ;)
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