What kinds of backup solutions do people use?

Posted on 2006-05-08
Last Modified: 2013-12-01
I am reviewing my backup procedures after hearing someone at a conference say, "You use tape? That's only about 80% reliable." I'm not sure how accurate that comment was (we do full backups every night using Veritas with full verifies and test restore random files on a monthly basis.) We do file sharing, Exchange 2003, an ERP system, an Intranet, among other services all on Windows 2003 servers.

I'm wondering what other people do in order to sleep at night. Do you backup onto removable hard drives or spare servers? Do you occassionally do a full restore onto spare hardware (not an option for us - we can't afford a spare server just to test backups.) I'm just curious as to the opinions of other IT people - is tape enough or should we be looking at additional solutions? How do you fit those additional methods into a nightly maintenance window?

Thanks in advance for the comments. I'll split the points among the responses.
Question by:jvm565
    LVL 42

    Expert Comment

    in addition to your tape backup, i would recommend an off-site backup, or taking a copy of your backups offsite on a regular basis.

    also, test your backups on a regular basis, if at all possible.
    LVL 87

    Assisted Solution

    Tape is a very good media for backups, as it is less expensive than disks and it is very good for archiving, which disks aren't. HD's on the other hand are faster, and it is is easier to restore data, so in my point of view the best backup is a combination of tape and HD, something like Disk to Disk, then backup the backup to tape. That way you can run the tape backup during the day, and you could even make two backups for redundancy.

    Otherwise I think what you are doing is fine, you are restoring random data to test the backup, that is the most important part of a backup and that way you'll notice a bad tape immediately. Another good thing about that is that since you are recovering data regularly you also know how to restore it. A lot of people who don't do that will first have to read through books to learn how to restore.
    LVL 6

    Assisted Solution

    Your backup procedures seem to be fine (probably do more than most).  What I would do if the budget allowed it would be the following:

    RAID5 on all servers
    Tape Backup and verify (daily basis) - test reliability of backups every week. Should also make sure that copies (say last weeks tapes) are stored off site.

    An additional step you could take is that there are alot of companies that carryout on line backups.  These are companies that backup your data securely via the Internet.  They usually charge per GB.
    LVL 42

    Assisted Solution

    you might also check with your ISP to see if they offer off-site storage.  my ISP offers it for free.  there is no charge per GB because the traffic isn't hitting the internet on its way to the ISP.  it's a simple upload to storage space provided by the ISP
    LVL 3

    Assisted Solution

    I do full backups each week to tape, alternating tape sets (A) and set(B) from week 1 (Set A), week2 (Set B), etc. At least one set is off site at all times.

    Each night I do incremental backups to a harddrive on another PC, and later copies the file to a secondary network attached storage device, that I can detach and take home at the end of the day.

    Also I turn on Windows Server 2003 Shadow Copy feature.


    1) If user accidentally deletes a file or set of files, they can use Show Copy to restore the file. If that doesn't work I can get it off the incremental backup or tape depending upon how long ago the file was modified.

    2) If data hard drive crashes, I restore latest backup tape set + incremental backup on the harddrive of the other machine

    3) If data hard drive crashes, and latest backup tape set unreliable, restore Set B + latest incremental set on other machine. Done

    4) If data hard drive crashes, latest backup set okay but latest incremental backup (on secondary PC) fails, restore Set A + incremental backup on Network Attache Storage Device. Perhaps 1 days work is lost.

    Basically, in the worst case, the server harddrive fails, shadow copy is corrupted,latest backup tape set fails, latest incremental backup fails, offsite copy of tape set and incremental fail.

    LVL 16

    Accepted Solution

    We do the following these ways:

    We protect 3 Terabytes per night from 200 remote servers with a backup strategy using RSYNC.  These include both Windows and Netware servers.  Our centralized backup file server runs OpenSuse 10 and has a combination of both RAID SCSI and USB External drives attached.  Then, each day, we back up the Linux box using a Windows server with a tape jukebox attached and running CA ArcServe.  That way we get a daily snapshot to tape allowing us to do a scheduled rotation.

    This means we are following the Golden Rule of Backups, which applies no matter how much data you back up, which is this:  Always have 2 separate backup copies of important data.  And it's better if they are different types of media.

    If you set your backup up and run it, you'll eventually get the chance to see how it worked.  We've restored over 30 servers with the system I described without any data loss.  The solution I described is scalable all the way down to a small workgroup network.

    RSYNC has done what no commercial software seemed to be able to do: give us a good working backup system for our enterprise.  It uses very efficient synchronization and compression algorithms to move the changes from our distributed servers.  Here's a link to the RSYNC Project:

    Here's the Novell RSYNC forum:

    And here's a good resource for RSYNC on Windows:

    Here are two more good RSYNC Windows links:

    The NASBackup Project is a neat Open Source effort to make a gui-based RSYNC client for Windows.  It works very well.

    More info:  RSYNC uses an algorithm that only sends the changes in the file systems.  This algorithm is so efficient that i can even get down to only sending the changed blocks in an individual file without having to send the whole file.  It works very well for us even over DSL/Cable speed connections.

    Using a vendor to provide offsite storage is mind-numbingly expensive and does not guarantee protection of your data.  If you're willing to 'roll your own' solution, you'll save money and get better results, in my opinion.

    LVL 10

    Assisted Solution


    if you have a backup softwere that knows to do "staging" ( like arcserve 11.5) you can back up to external storage
    and after that to a tape. here is a link to  external storage system:


    Author Comment

    Thanks for the input, folks. Points are on their way.

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