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Backup advice

Ok, I just took over the networking gig at a small (5 person) law firm. They have 1 server (win2000) and 6 workstations (all xp mix of pro and home). My question is concerning Backing up the sever.

Right now they do nightly backups to 2 external usb drives (alternated nightly so that one is always off premises in case of fire or theft) using Iomega backup software to create an image of the drive. While this is all well and good (unless you take into account the fact that it take darn near 5 hours to back up 40 gigs: usb 1.1), it is only good if there is an os crash or hdd failure. I'm more worried about if there's a fire, theft or mobo issue and I have to restore that image to a drive going into a new machine isn't going to work right.

There has to be a better backup strategy. Since I am still a bit new to networking in a business sense, I would like some pointers on efficient, effective backup solutions utilizing the 2 external drives and maybe and online backup option combination.

My main goal is to have them back up and running in the least amount of time with the emphasis being on getting the system back to the state is was before tragedy happened.

Thanks in advance for your advice.
twstechserv
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Most Valuable Expert 2015
Commented:
Sometimes after an image restore to non identical hardware you can run a repair installation of the OS and then it can work on the new hardware. I don't know the iomega software, but other imaging software like acronis trueimage, bootit-ng or even symantec's ghost include an image explorer software, so with that installed on a new installation you can extract the the enclosed files from an image to a new system.

You can use the builtin backup software of windows to create more standard backups, just start ntbackup /? from a command prompt for a the help and list of options (you can batch file it), or without the /? and the backup software starts running.
Most Valuable Expert 2015

Commented:
A further point here. Law firms, at least in my country, are required to archive their records for years, so there should be an archiving system in place. For that USB harddisks aren't the way to go but rather tapes or DvD's. Such media would just get locked away after the backup, and tapes and DVD's are meant for long term storage, while disks are more for short terms, like it is in place at your company now. I'd try to find out if the laws in your country also require long term archiving. And if such data is on the PC's or if that is all done in paper form...
Commented:
in our company we have 2 servers and about 30 workstations. So the backup stratagy is we make a full backup every sunday, and incremental backups (an incremental image contains all changes that have been made since the latest incremental or full backup was created. If one full image and several incremental were created, all of these images must be saved in the same folder so that you will be able to restore the data. If one of incremental images or a full image is deleted, there is no way to restore the set, since all images are dependent on each other.) every day in the evening. We use Acronis True Image for windows server:

http://www.acronis.com/enterprise/products/ATISWin/

We have beed using it for already a year and we didn't have big probs with it, i think it' the most convenient backup solution in you case.

Author

Commented:
Thanks to everyone for the advice so far.

Rindi:
I am in the US and I will definitely look into that as they are paperless except for the few originals that the law requires. Even then those have a scanned copy saved on the server.  Do you know where I might start looking other than just google? Also, would incremental backups work best for the records as they are in pdf format and all stored in 1 folder separated by case in sub-folders.

Thanks
Most Valuable Expert 2015

Commented:
I never use incremental backups, because for a restore you need the last full backup and then every incremental until the restore date. I prefer differential backups for the daily backups, as that backs up all the changed data since the last full backup. That makes it easier and faster to restore and it still uses less backup media space and time than a full backup.

You'll probably have to ask some of the lawyers in your firm, they should know your laws, or then ask the authorities in your state or city, as this may be handled differently regionally.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Commented:
You need to pick the appropriate strategy for your business practices and concerns.  I have a comment that grew so long, I turned it into a web page - reference:
http://www.lwcomputing.com/tips/static/backup.asp
I'm network admin with 3 servers (1 Windows 2k and 2 Windows 2k3) working with tape and 8 laptop. I use Vision Backup. My server backup data on the tape perfectly and my laptop every day over Internet. For the hosting backup solution, we use SecureIP, pretty new company but really nice. You can contact them by mail to info@secureip.ca :) For Vision back, the website is: www.vwsolutions.com or you can buy directly with SecureIP. Take a look. and good luck :)

Author

Commented:
Thanks for all the help guys. I assigned pts to all because I wanted advice and everyone gave usable advice. I gave the majority to the option I decided to employ.

Thanks again everyone,
twstechserv