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Backup strategy for SBS 2003 R2 - how do you do it?

As important as backup is, it is something I feel very incompetent about.

On a desktop, all kinds of settings are stored all over the place - in the HIDDEN local settings/apps folder, apps store their data in their program files\app folder (rather than my docs), etc...

and on the server you want to keep the system state, etc.... not just backup the shared data folders, right?

And then the idea of rotating external hard drives offsite vs. offsite storage over the web (can I assume tape for new installs is a non-issue?)  

And full vs. incremental vs. differential?  Any rule of thumb as to how much storage you commit for backups?  sure, some places have lots of data, but little changes, so incremental or differential would make more sense.

If a user says 'I used the file last about 2 months ago... and now it's not there', can you look back at versions back that far and in between that?  or last used months ago?  

and what app(s) do you use?  sbs's included backup?  That only keeps the last 10 logs.

So how do YOU do backups? how many versions do you keep? etc., etc.

thanks!

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babaganoosh
Asked:
babaganoosh
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1 Solution
 
GatelodgeCommented:
You could start with a full backup of everything (Including the kitchen sink!) to start on a Friday evening (Assuming that you don't work all weekend) With each week of the month being numbered. i.e week 1, week 2, week 3, week 4 and week 5 on a five week month. On the lastday of the month or your month end. Name the tape September 07 and store it away either off site or in a tape safe. That way if a user asks in 4 months time "I need that importyant shopping list I deletd and need it back" They will be forever in your debit.

Monday to Thursday use  differential back.

The reason I  prefer differential rather than ncremental is :-

If your server dies on a Thursday evening and you need to do a complete restore :-

Differental Put last Fridays tape in and restore, then Wedensday nights tape in and restore.
Incremental Put last Fridays tape in and restore, Then MOndays, Tusedays and Wedensday.

I use Backup Exec which is good but can be expensive depending on the options you need.

You can download a full sixty day unlimited trial to get a feel for it.


Hope this helps.

Regards

Rob
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Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasyPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
There's no need at all to use BAckup Exec on an SBS under normal circumstances.  The built-in SBS Backup works quite well.  But let me address your specific concerns:

"On a desktop, all kinds of settings are stored all over the place - in the HIDDEN local settings/apps folder, apps store their data in their program files\app folder (rather than my docs), etc..."

What type of disaster are you looking to compensate for with regard to desktop settings?  Generally, these are a very low priority concern, backing up desktops individually is costly and usually not worth the expense for most people based on the actual risk.

"and on the server you want to keep the system state, etc.... not just backup the shared data folders, right? "
ABSOLUTELY!  This is done automatically when you use the SBS Backup including the Exchange Database.  MSDE/SQL databases must be backed up, especially if you use SharePoint.  In order to have those backed up, you need to configure the specific SQL backup settings.  See the link in the Backup Snap-in for how to backup SharePoint/Companyweb.

"And then the idea of rotating external hard drives offsite vs. offsite storage over the web (can I assume tape for new installs is a non-issue?)  "
I'm not sure what you mean by "tape for new installs is a non-issue", but are you saying that you shouldn't even consider tape as backup media?  If so, then I would say you're right... I never use tape for SBS backups, and can't really understand why anyone would these days.  

I generally recommend using 3 2.5" USB Hard drives (I've now seen 200GB drives for under $130, but use at least 160GB drives).  Offsite via the web is still pricey but can be a good option for a redundant backup of specific data that's less than 15GB or so.


"And full vs. incremental vs. differential?  Any rule of thumb as to how much storage you commit for backups?  sure, some places have lots of data, but little changes, so incremental or differential would make more sense. "
The SBS Backup runs FULL backups each night.  There's a known hack to do incrementals instead:  http://sbs.seandaniel.com/2004/10/sbs-2003-backup-hack_05.html

If your full backup is over 50GB though, you should look at your archiving policy, because most likely you are backing up things that don't need to be.

"If a user says 'I used the file last about 2 months ago... and now it's not there', can you look back at versions back that far and in between that?  or last used months ago?  "

SBS includes Volume Shadow Snapshot by default (http://sbs.seandaniel.com/2004/11/understanding-volume-snap-shot.html) which will keep previous versions of all files stored on network shares that users can restore themselves without having to even ask you for them.   If your My Documents folder is currently redirected to the server then just right click on it and open the properties dialogue to see the "Previous Versions" tab.  Normally, VSS will store the last 60 versions (or 30 days worth) depending on the amount of space you give it.  If you need more than that, you may want to consider running regular full backups of the shares every 30 days that are stored for longer periods.  These can easily be scheduled through the standard NT Backup and saved to a network share for easy access.  

Also included in SBS is Deleted Item Recovery in Exchange.  This allows users to recover items themselves in Outlook.  Usually I set this for 60 days, and the setting is easily done when running the configure backup wizard.

"and what app(s) do you use?  sbs's included backup?  That only keeps the last 10 logs."

SBS's included backup may only keep the last 10 logs, but those are only to show you the status of the backup routine.  You can certainly keep more backups than that.  Using the 3 200GB drives in rotation, you should be able to keep about the last 12 or 15 backups.  But you can always increase the number of drives you use to increase the history.  However, in most cases 12 previous backups are sufficient when compared to other backup functionality on the SBS.


Jeff
TechSoEasy

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babaganooshAuthor Commented:
Jeff - you say things so clearly!

desktops and hidden files / settings:  Some clients have just a workgroup and I am very surprised by how much gets stored in app data and local settings / app data (templates, dictionary, PST, etc.).  Sure, domains / raoming profile (what was your opinion on those), saving the app data folder on the server solve this.  but in a workgroup (I jump all over with my questions, sorry!) or even in a domain - a user installs a photo app (olympus comes to mind) and winds up saving all data to the c:\program files\olymus folder by default.  yeah, they should keep the IT person in the loop better is the answer, right?

tape for new installs is a non-issue:

yeah, as you said - not considering a tape solution for new SBS installs.


external hard drive prices?  I am seeing 500 GB external drives for $100 - $125!  

you said"If your full backup is over 50GB though, you should look at your archiving policy, because most likely you are backing up things that don't need to be.'.

When you use the backup wizard, the SBS backup does full backups of the whole machine, right?  So each night it's way over 50GB!?  Or how do you structure the backup process?  If the backup takes 100 GB, then my thinking is each drive can only hold about 4 backups.

I thought the discussion here was because drives are so inexpensive / time is money, it's better to do full backups each night rather than screw around with incrementals / differentials and having to worry about restoring from 2 or more backups?

so as much as I've read you are a big proponent of the SBS wizards (right?), for backups you have several manually created ones?  the wizard only allows you to create 1 scheduled task for full backups, right?

So on a typical system, how many scheduled tasks do you create, (to run nightly?), to keep how many versions?   you are saying 12?  not all are full backups?  you rotate the hard drives weekly, right?  you are just backing up the system state and data, not windows / program files, etc?!

thank you!
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Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasyPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
"Some clients have just a workgroup"

My responses are entirely based on SBS-based environments.  SBS does not support "just a workgroup".  So I'll assume those are not SBS networks?

"yeah, they should keep the IT person in the loop better is the answer, right?"

More than that... on networks I manage, I restrict users from being able to install ANY application on a workstation.  That keeps the workstations in proper working condition.  After all, they are "workstations" not "playstations".

"I am seeing 500 GB external drives for $100 - $125!"

That's for 3.5" drives, not 2.5" drives.  There's a huge difference in whether or not someone will actually take a 3.5" drive home every night or not... and it's important to get the backup off-site every night.  2.5" drives are laptop drives, which are about 1/4 the size.

"When you use the backup wizard, the SBS backup does full backups of the whole machine, right?  So each night it's way over 50GB!"

No, the backup is compressed.  A full backup on a server that has about 30GB in Data will be under 50GB for sure.  If you have more data than that... I'd again suggest that you look at your archiving policies and see if there are folders that don't need a nightly backup.

I am a big proponent of the wizards, but if you do want to create incremental backups, I provided you a link for how to "hack" the SBS Backup Wizard to make this happen.  Read the article.

Jeff
TechSoEasy
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babaganooshAuthor Commented:
Unless I am reading that wrong / missing something, that hack is for alternating between 2 types of media:

http://sbs.seandaniel.com/2004/10/sbs-2003-backup-hack_05.html

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babaganooshAuthor Commented:
Backing up company web?  Seems like it's just a matter of being sure to include the correct folder?

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/829112

Click to select the check box of the folder where the Windows SharePoint Services databases are installed. By default, this is \Program Files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL$SharePoint\Data.

and from the backup module of server management:

The original copy of the Windows SharePoint Services database is included in the server backup.

But that brings up a good point - you can't just backup the exchange and data partitions... you need to grab that sql / company web folder, right?  

back to the begining of this - sorry if I seem slow... how do I make sure I grab all the right things.  I used a desktop and local settings folder as an example, but this also applies on  the SBS server!?  do you leave the sharepoint folder on the C drive?  I don't recall this was choosable at initial install?

thanks!
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Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasyPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
Sorry about the hack link... I had it bookmarkd and thought it referred directly to incrementals.  However, look in the comments for the reference to the NTBackup Wrapper available from a Yahoo Group that will help you with this.

Then as far as making sure you grab all the right things... that's why you should just use the builtin SBS backup.... it grabs all of hem for you.  Please refer to http://sbsurl.com/backup for details.

Jeff
TechSoEasy
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