Advice: Ghosting a 2003 Drive on RAID

This is more of an advice question, though I think it still fits under the purview of this topic.

A little background, then the question: We're currently running Window 2003 SBS with four total Domain Controllers, and another 2000 server that isn't a controller.  The setup I've inherited includes 2 Backup Tape drives that can handle only 40 GB a piece.  The amount of information that needs to be backed up daily (outside the actual system state) for one domain controller actually reaches this 40 GB Limit.

That said, it's been suggested a few times that we take a look at Ghosting the Systems.  I've searched and read quite extensively on the topic, but was curious if anyone here has any personal experience with Ghosting 2003 on RAID.  Is there any utility that is better than another?  Should I ditch the idea and go with a faster backup tape solution with larger tapes?    

Any experience-based advice is greatly appreciated.

Question is at 500 as our backup tape solution fails regularly on a hardware level (had to replace the drives under warranty twice in a year and am currently going to end up having to replace the controller card).


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What type of drive are you using?  you can get an LTO drive that does 100/200 or 200/400.  Though that being said you could also... look at changing how your systems are being backed up.   Most of my clients backup far more data than their drive can handle by using a schedule for FULL and differential days.  On the last friday of the month I schedule for a FULL backup on all servers, this usually requires me to flip the tape on saturday.  Then for the rest of the days in the month I configure them for differential, this backs up only the items changes since the last FULL backup.  So for a recovery you would only need the last FULL backup and the last differential.  It saves a ton of wear and tear on your tape drives and cuts down on the time required to complete the backups.
AdamRobinsonAuthor Commented:

Drives are older model Benchmark DLT Drives.  

Our incremental backups are larger than the tape drives due to some older databasing software which we can't get rid of.  The files are seen as "changed" _and_ are huge _and_ must be backed up nightly.  Full backups are almost entirely impossible.  I need to run three to four days to get a true full one.  

Upgrading to a better tape drive and better tapes seems to be of equal cost to setting up a ghosting system, wherein I could go to an external drive or DVD-RW and not have to worry about all of this.  

Is there some reason you know of not to do so?  

This is an area in which I have little knowledge outside what I've read, so I don't mean to sound as if I'm shooting your idea down; just trying to get an actual understanding of why you'd suggest getting a larger tape system over something else.

I would look into one or two very large USB external hard drives for a backup solution. probably cheaper then a new tapes, and more flexible than a ghost solution. Drives can also either me mapped or relocated as necessary.

Have all of your servers backup to a "drive" on the 2003 box, and then backup all to the USB drive.

Good Luck,

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Thats some large databases =)

I like dooleydogs idea above, using an external USB/firewire Drive.  Most backup porgams let you backup to a file instead of to tapedrive.  Configure the backup program to backup the databases to the external HD.

I don't recommend using ghost as a replacement to the backup software their are several issues with backing up 'hot files" (files in use) that can cause severe headaches.

Don't get me wrong, I love ghost, but it has its uses, like preconfigured desktop deployments, snapshots of your data drive...etc...


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AdamRobinsonAuthor Commented:
Will take a look at our current backup program and respond back shortly.  Thanks for your input so far.
You can use the built in NTBackup in Windows. Very easy to use, and since Win2K, easy to schedule.

back up all servers to one, and that one to the external storage.

My company uses a similar plan, although not to an external drive. this is mostly for the System State from several machines.

Good Luck,
AdamRobinsonAuthor Commented:
Going to take a look at some external drives in a bit.  I appreciate the suggestions.
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