Small Business Backup Solution Needed

Posted on 2004-09-19
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-03
Hey Experts,

I have a problem here and I did a search on EE but didn't find anything that matched what I needed exactly - although I am sure something is there, but I dont know how to search properly.

I am doing some work for a small business and they need a new File Management System.
At the moment there are 4 PC's and 1 laptop.

The issues is the files, they are spread over the network which makes backing up very hard and a lot of the files are redundant (since they dont change since prev. backups).
The accounting information is on one PC, the client info and invoices are all on another PC etc...
He wants the laptop to have the client info and invoices - so when he takes it with him he has important info there too.

The way the business works - the client goes out to his clients with his laptop, they draw up documents etc...
He needs to sync. his laptop with the business network etc...
BUT the files on the network also update - so a simply copy/paste will not work...

He is willing to COMPLETELY restructure the network so as to have a better system.
The BEST Option would be a free one, although software which is worth it, will be happily purchased!

His business wouldn't exist without the computer systems and data.
So this is VITAL to his network.

Thanks in advance!
- Chris Stratford
Question by:neester
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Assisted Solution

Invalidlogin earned 600 total points
ID: 12098638
Well there are alot of options, the first thing to do is get all the files in one location, having everyone with mapped drive or drives. Now you could do this a number of ways, the cheapest would be pick the best pc on the network and use it as a server/workstation and put all the files on it and point everyone to the files, and have the laptop syn offline files so he would be up todate with all the files he needs, and you would need so kind of backup, depending on how much data there is.
The other solution would be to put in a stand alone server, and do the same thing there, you could just put winxp on it, or one better you be server software, and then again looking at a backup solution.

Good Luck
LVL 11

Assisted Solution

Quetzal earned 600 total points
ID: 12099135
Invalidlogin has outlined the same solution I use for many small offices.  For the pc you're using as the "server", I recommend running XP Pro...it makes drive mapping easier and it comes with NTBackup.  In addition to mapping drives, you can redirect My Documents (and other shell folders if needed).  For the laptop, if it's using Win2K or WinXP Pro, set up offline files (not available in XP Home)...this works great so long as the laptop is connected to the "server" regularly.
LVL 15

Accepted Solution

Cyber-Dude earned 800 total points
ID: 12100094
Let me take it a bit further;
You can tell them to stay with the current configuration (sience it is a very small peer to peer network) but at the end of each day they will have to press a button (which you will create) that will backup data (modified and new files). What this system will actually do is the following:
1. Copy all new and modified files to a shared folder.
2. The backup client will allocate all data from the shared folder on each computer.

The advantages from using that method is:
You wont bother them in changing the way they work, there are no blocked files and you get all your data fully backup.

To do this follow those steps:
1. Create on each computer a new folder (destined to be backed up).
2. Share each created folder (sience it is a small office, theres no need using user's rights and forth).
3. Create a batch file containing the following command:
======Start of the batch file======
@echo off
xcopy <source> <shared folder> /e /d /c /v /y >> log.txt
======End of batch file======
You may notice I put all reports on a log file so that it will assist you later. You can edit this log to be more usefull (include dates and forth).
4. After nameing the batch file, create a shortcut on the desktop that will allowthe user to activate the backup process (if you want to take it even further, you may create a schedualed task that will run the file without the user intervention).
5. From the intended backup client create a batch file that will copy all information needed to your local backup machine:
======Start of the batch file======
@echo off
net use k: \\<client 1>\<shared folder>
copy k:\ c:\backup\<client1>
net use k: /delete
net use k: \\<client 2>\<shared folder>
copy k:\ c:\backup\<client2>
net use k: /delete
net use k: \\<client 3>\<shared folder>
copy k:\ c:\backup\<client3>
net use k: /delete
xopy <source on local computer> c:\backup\local /e /d /c /v /y
======End of batch file======
a. You dont need to use the 'for' and the 'next' commands; you dont have much clients...
b. Remember, you can set a log file here as well (the same method as mentioned above).
c. You can replace 'k:' to whatever drive you choose...
6. Create a folder where the files should be copied (in this example c:\backup) and create a sub folder for each user. You can schedual this task as well.

Thats it....

Any more questions; I will gladly will answer them...

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LVL 11

Expert Comment

ID: 12100478
The issue I have with the batch copy method is that users typically won't be able to figure out if something didn't copy correctly.  However, in a similar vein, if the computer is not XP Home, you can schedule the builtin backup program (ntbackup) on each machine to backup to the central "server".
LVL 11

Author Comment

ID: 12101585
Wow you have all got some great solutions and I will gladly split the points and give you all the max I can.
I just need to sum this up a little becuase it is a little hard to visualise reading it.

Well I had already planned to make 1 PC the server.
Its the backing up that I am having troubles with.

MAINLY because the client will have 1 FileServer...
and the files will be edited from more than 1 PC.

So WHAT does the solution you gave do to help me there?
How will it backup only the newer files?

Are there any tutorials you can point me to to set up Offline Files?
because that sounds VERY interesting!

******** The real problem is that, he wants All the information on his laptop (asif the laptop were a file server) BUT the office people need the files too, while he is away. **********
LVL 11

Author Comment

ID: 12101595
BTW Thank you all for your solutions, I am definalty splitting the points because you all have made great contirubutions!
LVL 15

Expert Comment

ID: 12101636
The solution I provided you as well as others may be suitable enough for you and your futuristic plans...


LVL 17

Expert Comment

by:Jared Luker
ID: 12103385
>MAINLY because the client will have 1 FileServer...
>and the files will be edited from more than 1 PC.

If you have everyone accessing the files from a central point (i.e. map the J: drive to the "server"), and tell them to only access the files off of the J: drive.  That way it gets access and saved to the same place by everyone.

As far as the laptop goes, you could use the solutions above to synch to the J: drive whenever the laptop "phones home".


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