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In need of a backup strategy

Posted on 2007-07-30
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Last Modified: 2010-04-03
My primary hard disk is installed and configured the way I want it. I have just purchased, installed and formatted a second ard disk of the same technology and of the same disk size.  But the primary has a capacity of 298.08 GB and the secondary has a capacity of 298.09 GB.

I need a mirror image of the disk in case the primary ever crashes.  But I also need incremental backups, for which I would buy an external hard disk, or use DVDs as an adjunct.

Am I on the right track?  Given that there is some difference in size, will that bea problem?  Is there a way for me to reformat it to be the exact size? Does that matter?

What software do I need to make a mirror? How about daily backups?

Thanks for the help.
newbieweb
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Question by:newbieweb
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Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 500 total points
ID: 19595570
I assume you want to create a RAID 1 (Mirror) - as long as the NEW drive is AT LEAST as large as the existing drive, you can mirror them without a problem.

To make a mirror, you would need EITHER Windows SERVER (XP/Vista does not support mirroring through software) OR a RAID controller.  Many motherboards now include Mirroring abilities, but if yours doesn't, you would need to get a controller (can be pretty cheap - i think as low as $20).

Now, remember, a MIRROR (RAID 1) IS NOT BACKUP.  It is REDUNDANCY - it protects you against the failure of ONE drive.  It DOES NOT protect you from accidental deletion, corruption, fire, theft, virus infections that cause data loss, etc.  With the possible exception of fire and theft, all of these are MORE LIKELY than a hard drive failure (though it definitely does happen).  
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Author Comment

by:newbieweb
ID: 19596396
Hi,

I was under the impression that any type of RAID would force me to re-install the system on my original drive. Is that not true?

I am running Server 2003, and am pleasantly surprised that I do not ned a RAID controller card.

In regards to mirroring, I would probably prefer to control it myself, so that I periodically duplicate the disk to the second drive.  I would do this whenever I reach a milestone but understand that this is not a backup strategy.

I am looking for a solution to making incremental backup as well.

Using Server 2003, to make a mirror onto the second drive, must I format it first?  How do I use Server 2003 to create a mirror of my main drive?

Thanks,
newbieweb
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r-k earned 1500 total points
ID: 19596760
Re. how to make a software mirror (raid 1) in Win 2003, see:

 http://support.microsoft.com/kb/323432

You don't need to reinstall the system in order to add a mirror, but in case you have to convert your system drive from basic to dynamic, a good backup is advisable regardless.

Rather than making a mirror periodically, it would be better to install the second drive as a full-time mirror. In case you want an extra mirror for off-site storage, you can get a third drive of the same or larger size, and periodically swap that with the mirror drive.

Re. incremental backup, you definitely want to backup the System State every night to a disk other than the boot disk. What else you backup depends on what you're using the server for, e.g. Exchange, SQL etc. You'll want to focus on what needs to be backed up, and how often. Be sure to store one copy off-site, and any backup plan is only as good as the testing you do to check the recovery process and the integrity of the backups.
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Author Comment

by:newbieweb
ID: 19596904
Yes, before I do anything with the system disk, I'd like to back it up fully.  But I have no other backup drive (at the moment) other than this new drive to act as a mirror.  But I need one so there's no better time than the present for me to get it.  But before I get the hardware I'd like to understand what software I'll be using to back up.

Any suggestions?
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Expert Comment

by:r-k
ID: 19596934
Is your system disk already "dynamic"? If it is then the best way to back it up is to mirror it, then remove it and keep it safely.

If it is not dynamic, I would make a "clone" of it first using any of a number of cloning programs. A free one is HDClone which you can find on the bootable UBCD (http://www.ultimatebootcd.com/)

For normal incremental backups the chief free options are xcopy (or robocopy) and NTBackup. There are several commercial packages as well if your requirements are more demanding. A lot depends on specifics of what you're backing up and how much etc.
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Author Comment

by:newbieweb
ID: 19597009
How do I find if it's dynamic?

My primary has 32 MB used. I'd like everything backed up so I can resume work quickly upon a disk failure.  Ihave lots of development tools which would take me weeks to rebuild.

Does the cloning program reformat the second disk in the process of creating a clone?  I formattd the disk earlier today and it's slightly different size from my primary.
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Expert Comment

by:r-k
ID: 19597370
"How do I find if it's dynamic?"

Control Panel -> Admin Tools -> Computer Management -> Disk Management

In the right-side window you'll see a graphic for each disk. It will say something like "Disk 0   Basic  60 GB Online" (or Dynamic instead of basic)

"32 MB used"

I assume you meant 32 GB

"Does the cloning program reformat the second disk in the process of creating a clone?"

Yes, it will automatically format as well (at least if memory serves). There should be no problem so long as the destination disk is equal or bigger than the source. Be careful not to clone the new disk to the old!

Choose "disk to disk" when cloning (not partition to partiton)

Do go ahead and make the UBCD, it is extremely useful for all sorts of reasons.


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Author Comment

by:newbieweb
ID: 19597461
It's Basic for both drives.

Yes, 32 GB used.

I will clone the disk with UBCD.  Once I have a clone I will make the primary dynamic.  Then once I have the dynamic version, do I clone it again onto the secondary?  And is that then a mirrored version?

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Expert Comment

by:r-k
ID: 19597579
Sounds good. Before converting to dynamic, exchange the primary drive with the clone you just made with HDClone and make sure you can boot from the clone. If it works, take the clone out again and save for future disaster recovery.

Then go ahead and convert to dynamic, then install the second extra drive and create the raid-1 mirror using the steps in the link above. The mirror will take a couple of hours to "resynch" after which the two drives will be mirrors of each other in near real-time.

Then you can work on creating nightly or other regular backups of data....
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Author Comment

by:newbieweb
ID: 19603220
When you say exchange, do you mean physically swap it?  Or do you mean by changing the BIOS boot priority?
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Expert Comment

by:r-k
ID: 19603314
I meant physically swap it, but if your bios allows to switch to a different boot drive without swapping then that is almost as good. The main idea is to remove the original boot drive and make sure you can boot from the newly created clone.
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Author Comment

by:newbieweb
ID: 19605758
OK. I now know how to physically swap it. But I'm having trouble with UBCD.

I chose HDClone after verifying the serial numbers by matching to the physical disk.  But the error I have is that the free version does not support cloning to a disk of the same or lesser size.  In my case the drives are identical in size.

Can you suggest a free program that wil help me do this "one time" clone?  I'd hate to spend money on it since Server 2003 wil do it for free, once I have converted the drives to Dynamic.

Thanks,
newbieweb
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Expert Comment

by:r-k
ID: 19606353
Thanks. I hope you managed to get past that problem. Sorry I had not noticed that shortcoming of the HDClone free edition. The HDclone basic edition doesn't seem to have this restriction and is a relatively inexpensive $25 or so:

 http://www.miray.de/order/sat.hdclone.be.html

Another free option is Driveimage XML (http://www.runtime.org/dixml.htm) but I think this doesn't make a bootable copy, just a copy in a special format which you can restore to a blank disk. See their faq page about how to make the restored disk bootable: http://www.runtime.org/driveimage_faq.htm 
I haven't used that program personally but that web site is reputable.
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