Growing Backup Requirements

We have an increasingly large volume of data. A lot of it is high resolution images and video, which do not compress well. We currently use an Ultrium 3 tape backup drive (400GB/800GB). The compression ratio we get is about 1.02.

We've had this for about 9 months and have reached the capacity of a single tape. At the time we were encouraged to get a single drive, rather than a robotic tape library as we were going to be taking the tapes offsite daily anyway.

Now that we have hit the 400 GB limit I'm looking to switch to Incremental backups to spread the load over multiple tapes, but still only use 1 tape per night. A lot of our data remains unchanged (as I said, images and video)

I've just added an extra hard drive (143 GB) to our RAID 5 array and I am likely to need to add another one in the next couple of months.

With our growing storage needs and backup requirements I'm looking to find the best solution to make the most of what we have and find the best value solution for the future.

I'm hoping to add a second tape drive (of the same type) to allow backups to be spread over 2 tapes (with a doubling of the number of tapes).

I'll be looking for future expandability, and supporting reasoning behind your solutions for points allocation.

We are using the Symantec Backup Exec Software on Windows 2003 R2 Standard.
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rindiConnect With a Mentor Commented:
A library doesn't have anything to do with taking tapes offsite or not. I'd plan on getting one and not invest in a 2nd drive. Use differential and not incremental backups. Incremental requires you to restore every tape from the last full backup until the date of the backup you need. A differential only requires the last full backup and the last differential. Do a full backup on weekends and differential during the week, using the GFS scheme.
rhyspAuthor Commented:
So I would use two tapes for the weekly full backups, and then use one tape for each of the daily differentials?
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rhyspAuthor Commented:
Anything in particular I should be looking for from a tape library?
I'd just look for one from the same manufacturer as your current drive. If you need a barcode labeling system then make sure it supports that.
andyalderConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Make sure you get one with a mail slot, it's a right pain to take the whole cartridge out every time. The small autoloaders all have mailslots since you can't eject the whole cartridge out of most of them.

Ultrium 4 is out now, 800GB native but they are a bit pricy. Write compatible with your current tapes (although you only get half as much on them of course).
rhyspAuthor Commented:
The mailslot is the slot that allows you to import and export media, right? I only ask because I didn't think they would make libraries without them.
This one doesn't, you have to pull the whole magazine out, One of my customers has got one and it's a right pain when you only want to import or export a single tape.
mark_seymourConnect With a Mentor Commented:
HP do an entry level auto loader that is quite nicely priced and works well. If you go for the model that take the same tapes as what you have you wont be paying the top price for the new tape technology and can use your existing media (although they are backwards compatible). It may be more costly than some other non brandname models but you get good warranty support with it, which to me is important!

Since your data volumes are growing at quite a fast rate you may also want to consider disk staging your backups. If you decide not to go with an auto loader you could add some NAS storage and use this for the first phase of the backup and then the writing to tape and tape changing can be scheduled to be done during the day whilst you are there to change the tapes, without affecting the working servers. This can be a handy way of always having an online backup available once tapes have left site. You need a minimum of Backup exec 10d to do this although 11d has better options for automating it. One thing to consider with this is the speed of the disks in the storage you choose, if it is too slow (IDE speeds) you will gain no benefit as your backup times will grow instead of dropping.

Another possible solution would be to manage your file systems with your backups in mind. You mentioned you work with high res images etc, do these have a working life?


We have a customer who is a digital advertising agency, they created web based media and images in their thousands on a daily basis. Due to a huge growth in business they managed to outgrow 3 different backup systems (we went from tape to auto loader to 2 auto loaders!).
To try and curb the need to keep adding and adding tape drives etc we changed their file system. They now have two stroage areas, working and archive. Files that are currently in use on live projects are held in the live area which is backed up on a daily basis as normal. Once a project is finished or becomes "stale" it is then moved to the archive area which is backed up on a weekly basis.

Once data is deemed as totally dead/unused it is archived to tape and deleted.

Veritas Storage Exec is also another handy way to look at what is being stored where as well as what is being used and when. This can be utilised to easily take control over your storage again.

A combination of all of the above will allow you to manage even the most extreme growth in data.

BobPrinceExpertConnect With a Mentor Commented:
I have been looking at Tape replacement systems and ran across a company making a nice Virtual Tape system.
The website is ( and looks like a pretty solid solution to eliminate tapes.
Tape loaders only make the problem worse over the long term.
Yes you can backup using multiple tapes, but probably run out of backup window before that makes sense.
Mark's comments are also right on target - reducing the amount of redundant backup this is required each and every night.
If you can partition and freeze the data once a quarter or so - you can also make copies and then allow them to be Read Only - and not allow changes. That can work nice if they tend to be projects that close.
If you do need to alter one - you just treat it as a new project.

rhyspAuthor Commented:
Thanks everyone. I now have a good path for working with these backups down the line.
your welcome
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