backup's strategies ??

Hi everyone

OK a newbie questions regarding backup's
1.correct me if i'm wrong but NTbackup (built-in) can't do bare metal install/recovery. i.e. completely different macine etc?
2. seeing as money is an issue, what third party backup sw, is recommended i.e. backup assist? veratis etc is not an option b/c of it's high cost.
3. this client has a a AIT tape system  with 8 tapes they are a 9-5 operation. please advise on the strategy and rotations of tapes. I'v never had to recover from any major server issues and i'm looking for advise from my fellow battle hardened commrads.
4. is a full / normal back up is what they have going now every other day. but they are not changing tapes!?!?! and their system is split between a C:/ drive and a Raid 5 array for data. Are there any specific considerations I need to make to ensure proper backups and better strategy.

thank you in advance it's greatly appriciated.
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Irwin SantosComputer Integration SpecialistCommented:
1) you're not wrong
3) full daily backup to tape, 1 for each day, 1 per week.  have someone change the tapes out at the end of the day.
4) full is easy to manage than differential.  The Raid 5 is protected by its own redundancy.. you may want to get a set of tapes for just that and have the backup run once per week.

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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Of course money is always an issue, but the client really needs to think about how much they would lose if the server went down.

Before recommending any solution, you should TEST the solution yourself.  Setup an SBS server yourself and break it.  Then do some restores to get it running again.  Virtual PC is great for this kind of trial.

That said, Acronis - the right product - is nearly as expensive then Backup Exec Small Business Server. - $700 - $755.

If you're looking to create a backup solution, I suggest you read over my "standard" response to backup issues - rather than post it here, please reference it in the question below.
Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasyPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
Regarding your questions:

1.  You are wrong, in a sense.  Restoring to different hardware IS possible, if the hardware meets these items are the same as the original machine:
     SCSI controller. You can restore to a computer that has an IDE controller if the original computer had SCSI.
     Motherboard chip set.
     Number of processors.
     Hard disk size. The new computer’s hard disk should contain matching volumes the same size or larger than those on the original computer.
       Drive letter of the boot partition

Alternatively, you would follow this KB to restore to different hardware:

2.  I agree with leew that money is always an issue... so the best thing to do is to review a complete disaster recovery plan... and not focus on any single recovery strategy (such as restoring to different hardware) without taking into account all other things that could happen and what the probability of those things are vs. the cost of preparing for them.   You might find this to be helpful in creating a Disaster Recovery plan:

3.  I prefer using USB hard drives instead of tapes.  A set of three 2.5" 120GB drives will run about $450.00.  The 2.5" drives are preferable because it makes it easier to rotate them off-site.  Which is a critical part of any disaster recovery plan.  Having 120GB will allow you to get 3 or 4 FULL backups on each drive.  They definitely should be rotated every day with one taken off-site, such as having the owner just taking it home with them.

Using USB drives, makes it much easier than making sure which of however many tapes needs to be in the drive.  Just labeled A, B, and C, with a calendar of which one should be connected on which day is pretty easy.

4.  I recommend using the built-in SBS Backup (configured by the wizard, not manually in NTBackup) which will create a full backup each night.  This backup should not get larger than 40GB.  If they have large data files (photographs, etc) that should be backed up separately.  One of the most important parts of a good backup procedure is having a good archiving procedure.  Without archiving, the backup grows in size and the costs related to maintaining it can escalate exponentially.

For more information, plesae see: 


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ArtureAuthor Commented:
Thanks alot to all of you!!! Now I have a few options to consider.
Jeff your correct if all the basics of a system were very similar to the existing server then the backup should work. the clients concern was he knows that in a pinch getting a new server within a day
notice (if the need came up) would be quite difficult. hence the non matching hardware i.e. a workstation or laptop you could use for the sole purpose of accessing data.
the clients previous site burned down years ago, now that they are larger they can't afford to be without their data.

As for the usb drive suggestion, i have used that on other sites and it works great. but what do you use for archiving?? if not tapes, and cd/dvd's are far to small. ??

iriwpks and leew. I will review all the reading material you pointed out, tky very much.

Just one more point to crystlize, when i set up the back up (in whatever sw, built in or otherwise) I'm selecting C:/, E:/ (that's the raid with all the  data), the
system state. they are all going on the same tape for the time being. Is this OK? thanks again

Irwin SantosComputer Integration SpecialistCommented:
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I believe I say this in my standard comment, but the client needs to spend money appropriate for their data storage availability needs.  If they are not willing to, then I guess they haven't learned their lesson from the fire.  I don't mean to sound harsh, but companies always seem to undervalue disaster recovery.  

Now I don't know exactly what they have and what they need, but you need to analyze it for them (I assume you are the consultant or advisor regarding this issue) and come up with a reasonable, workable solution.
Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasyPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
-- If the client's office burns down, they won't have workstations either... so accessing the data may be moot for a short while... long enough for you to get it restored to proper hardware.

-- Archiving?  I prefer to use dual-layer DVD's which hold 9GB, plenty big for most purposes.  If you use DVDs you must make sure they are high quality ones, and I always burn 3 copies.  Alternatively, you can use older 15 - 20GB IDE hard drives if, like me, you have stacks of them around that have been pulled from old workstations.  But you already have a tape drive in that location, so that would work as well.

Lastly, if they have accounting data that would need to be accessed more readily, generally that data is small enough to ftp offsite each night automatically... you should consider that option as well.

Backup / Dr is such a cool topic... It is cool to see the different ideas you guys have for solving this problem.

My 3 cents.

Disk is cheap, and tape is slow.  I highly encourage my clients to use disk based backup, and for small business server, the NTbackup is perfect, ( it is free). It is not sexy, but it does the job. Conceptually, I backup the entire server each night, but in pieces. The whole goal in my opinion is to minimize downtime, complexity, and your stress level, in the event of the a disaster. At that point you are focused on getting the system backup and the company accessing their data. Disaster could also include a virus outbreak that destroys data not just a hardware, facility (fire) problem. If you backup everything each night, you only have one thing to restore. Disk is inexpensive. I backup to a local device and then replicate to another site, I use an integrated appliance. You could also setup a machine at your home with a highspeed connection and use a replication process that compresses and only replicates changes to cut down on your space and bandwidth req.

Also added to this is you need to have some sort of classification of your data, so you know what I call the "business value" of the data which adds to your DR strategy. It may be necessary to have some level of the data available immediately, while you are executing your DR plan. So you need to architect a solution for that if necessary.

One other note, transporting company data in your car can be dangerous. I know that most companies the person who is repsonsible for taking items offsite is not usually the one person with the most Technology cool points. Cars get wrecked, and data gets stolen. So putting in a box that is locked, and stored out of site is plus eventhough it is often overlooked. I like the stationary aspect of replication to physical machine in your home or remote datacenter, because it seems to me to be less vulnerable.

Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasyPrincipal ConsultantCommented:

If you want to consider a "cool" backup strategy... I'm currently testing a standard deployment of SBS for my clients as a virtual machine running on Virtual Server 2005 (using Server 2003 Standard Edition as the Host OS).  Essentailly if I can get the performance to an acceptable level, then what you basically have is a VIRTUAL HARD DRIVE IMAGE which can be copied and deployed on any computer (even XP Pro) making it possible to have the server back up and running within minutes.


Interesting, I am doing the same exact process trying to test both. Vmware Virtual Server on top of Linux, and Server 2003 Enterprise. I am testing both SBS2003 and a Terminal server as Guest VM hosts. We should comparenotes. :)
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