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Small office backup recommendation?

I work in a small office.  We have about 15 in-house employees, with 10 more mobile employees.  The mobile employees use SonicWall to connect to our VPN.  We are all Microsoft based, 2000/XP/2003

We want to make an efficient automated once-a-week backup system.  Currently, everyone copies their important files to one main file server.  This file server is then backed up on a 40/80 GB tape drive.  However, they often forget, are too lazy, or just don't know what files to move over.  Some even don't know how.

We want to automate this process without buying expensive software that is probably too big and complex for our simple needs.  It would help if the files are copied to the server with some sort of script, but it is not necessary.  Does anyone have any ideas or good websites that may help me?
Avatar of kode99

Here is a relatively inexpensive shareware program ($15.00 a seat).  It will do scheduled backups to a network drive.  So when the PC is turned on it would write a copy back to the server,  or every day at X time or whatever.  What may or may not be useful is it can keep multiple versions of a file.  So if you change something but later need to see what it was a week ago you can.

Maybe you could use the briefcase features built into windows to do what you need heres some docs on it.;en-us;307885

Ultimately it would also be possible to simple use batch file and the Scheduler built into windows to run the batch file at given times.  More or less the same functionality of the above shareware program.

All the batch file needs is something like - copy c:\WorkingDir\*.* f:\FredsWorkingDir.

That can take care of the client side and get the stuff to the server.  

The server side is going to depend on just how much data you need to backup.  If you are backing up the whole server OS and all you probably should go to some sort of image system,  Acronis is good,  Combine it with a hot swap SATA hard drive and have the system backup to the drive then change the drive every day, look here  To do longer term backups use your existing tape drive to backup off the 'live' backup hard drive.  This could be done on the server or plug it into another machine to do it.  So something like swapping drives daily then once a week make a tape.

In the end it just has to be painless.  The less pain the better it will be maintained.
Try Unison ( or myEasySync (  These programs will sync two folders.  It sounds like you have a handle on the server side.  I am sure you have individual folders setup, you could have you local and remote users syncing a folder on their hard drive to their individual share.  Try myEasySync first it is easier to setup and use.  Did I mention free
Computer Associates BrightStor Arcserve Backup for Laptop & Desktops

Trial download:

This is not a cheap solution, but it one that will work.

You can also setup robocopy (see Windows 2003 Resource Kit) jobs to automatically upload changed files and folders in a scheduled task.

Avatar of rindi
Are you using active directory on your servers? Why don't you general have the user's "Home" directory on the server? For those users not always connected to the network you can set to synchronize the home directory with the server everytime they logon and again when they logoff. The logon / logoff process will of course take longer for those users, but in the end it won't make any difference, as it just takes time copying files with another automated or by hand process.. You should maybe just make sure that files in the "home" directory that get synchronized are those files which can change, and other files which never change should be in another directory (Those files don't need to be backed up anymore).
Avatar of bdietz


Thanks for the comments.  There are some good suggestions.

If possible, I would like there to be no involvement at all with the end user.  Is there a way I could simply grab their My Documents folder, from the server, without them having to do anything to their computer?  I am using active directory, is it possible?
Avatar of rindi
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I go along with rindi.   I use Redirection of the My Documents folder in Group Policies to accomplish this.
Better way is that users keep "Writing" to a network share instead of their own disks, but, once again, you'll need to Re-Teach them !!!

The other option is to Enable OFFline Folders, and activate the synch when users log on and off. ( But this will bring the network down, and the same with th Server )

Although these are good options, Rindi has a great point there, as he uses Policies to enforce it, and, as you know a simple user can't Override the Group Policy just like that  !!!

Best Regards!!
The setup of the redirection of the my documents is a little tedious in the beginning, but overall, the most proactive way of getting the data backed up that you want!  
bdietz, are you still looking for further information on this issue?