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W2k3 backup best practices suggestions.  Small shop, novice admin. sql running too. What is best?

Backup w2k3 server advice needed.  What are best practice recommendations for a small (17 terminals using windows xp pro) on a dual processor dell 6600 running several apps and sql server 2000.  We dont run exchange server.  I have used veritas but am currently using acronis server backup to make an image of the system and data disks.  My disks are raid mirrors.  Also I have a usb removable drive to backup to so we can take it home at night but its sort of a hassle to get the new drive set up with the new drive letter, then go into veritas and get the program to recognize the new drive.  Thats why we went to acronis.  Also we run a real time customer data program on the sql and I have it set up in the system to back up the database nightly full and have transaction logs run every 4 hours.   I know this sounds a bit like a ramble but i wanted to explain what I am doing now so you might be able to suggest a simpler way to have a really good backup setup.  Ideally I would want to be able to just pull a usb drive at the end of the day, plug in a replacement and have my system copied.  
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Principal Consultant
Most Valuable Expert 2016
Top Expert 2014
As a small shop and novice admin, it's too bad you didn't use Small Business Server which has a nice built in backup which uses NTBackup in a pre-defined script.  In those scenarios, I always deploy a server with 3 160GB 2.5" USB drives to be used in rotation taking one home with you every night.  NTBackup doesn't require any special setup for those.  It will recognize them as the same drive as long as you don't have more than one plugged in at the same time.  Since the 2.5" drives are small and are now reasonably inexpensive ($110 for a 160GB), it's a pretty good solution.  Having 3 is better than two just in case you forget the one at home or aren't going to come into the office on a particular day.

You could still use NTBackup which would probably do you fine.  As long as the SQL database has a backup maintenance plan and those backups are stored in a directory that is included in your nightly backup you will capture those as well.  

But if you like Acronis, then why would you want to change?  I think it's a pretty awesome product and use it for a couple clients as a redundant backup to NTBackup.  



Why use a removeable hard drive.. That's your real problem..

there's a couple things you can do (i my opinion)
1. go to hotswable mirrored disks..
if you have mirrored disks you can just pull out one (the system goes in error!) and plug in another disk and wait for it the rebuild
pros: no backup time. the system is only slow when rebuilding the second disk. recovery time is fast for the system
cons: recovery on file level is not easy.
2. use tape like media
with DLT like tapes most backup software can work.
tapes are easily taken home.
con: expensive!
3. my last choice.. use 1 USB device.
if you have acronis make a backup to disk during the night you can than during the day copy this to the USB device and at the end take it home with you..
4. Create seperate jobs for different days and point each job to it's own Drive letter.
so monday => z:
tuesday => y:
etc etc ..
this way you don't have an issue with the drive letter assuming the device always gets the same letter.

i think techso easy has given most of the tips ma be you can use this link to find out how to configure the ntbackup for AD also.

Hope this helps
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013
I agree with TechSoEasy and disagree in large part with RightNL.

To address his points:
1.  RAID is NOT backup it's redundancy.  Relying on it for backup is foolish.  RAID does not protect you from Corruption, accidental deletion, fire, theft, etc.  I understand what your getting at, but I don't know many experienced admins who would advocate this as a safe method of backup.
2.  con - not just expensive, but also reliant on a single interface to recover data - if the tape drive fails, you're pretty much in trouble.  And in my experience, tape drives fail WAY too often.
3.  One USB drive - how do you protect against a fire?  theft? Virus?
4.  A proper script can use any drive letter because it will look for a file.  If you want a more comprehensive discussion on backup, I'd suggest you have a read over this:

1.raid can certainly be used as backup.

bare with me.
2 disk in mirror.
disk x and disk y.
you take disk x out of the hotswappable array and replace it for disk z. You take disk x home or put it in a vault.
next day you take out disk y and insert disk x back.

this way you have 1 disk at home / in a vault with all you data. in case of emergency just bring the box down. take out the current disks and insert only the spare disk. boot up wait 2 minutes and insert one of the other disks for it to rebuild.

perferct backup senario for OS partitions and application servers that don't have a lot of changes.

2. tapes are a proven technology. and most of the cases tapes are failing is poor use of equipment.
3. as said my last choice. but since it is done DURING the DAY!

The best way to back this up is to use a remote supplier and do an online remote backup. this is a 100% secure and redundant solutions but will also cost $$.
 there is a small client installed which will sent encrypted data to a data warehouse at a secure data center (third party) and using bits technology this can rapidly sync all changes.