Our Tape Drive Died and we're looking for a new solution...

Posted on 2007-10-07
Last Modified: 2013-11-14
Our tape drive died, so we are looking for a replacement.  

We have Windows Server 2003 and Backup Exec 9.1.  We're a small engineering firm of 13 employees so a tight budget is what we're on - definitely nothing over $1000 and probably $800 or less to get management's approval.

Two things that aren't options that we want to consider are one of the data backup services or another tape drive (all of our old tapes are about worn out anyway).  My very first thought was an external hard drive.  That option works great for everything except the fact that we can't switch out & store the latest backup in the fire safe.

Is there some other option like that around?  Anything "hot-swappable" to consider maybe?   We can still use our Backup Exec 9.1 for whatever we get, but what newer options are there?

How effective would you consider having an external hard drive connected (full-time) to the server where we have all of our regular backups kept, and a smaller USB 2.0 hard drive that is used for a weekly full backup that is taken off-site?

Any suggestions?

Many thanks in advance.
Question by:rayhorn13
    LVL 95

    Expert Comment

    by:Lee W, MVP
    You don't mention how much data you have...

    Why would you get JUST ONE external hard disk?  You can get FIVE 500 GB drives from for $750 and rotate them off site every day.

    Author Comment

    My apologies - I thought I covered it all.
    A "full backup" (including the server OS, Active Directory, etc.) would consist of approximately 60 GB (+/-).  

    More info: The backup that is in-place (actually on it's way out) was here when I arrived.  The consultant who set it up did so that the whole server was backed up every night, giving us only a two-week-backward window to restore.  I would like to use differentials, incrementals and full backups to give us up to 6 months (or more) of backed up data.  

    Why only one external?  Good question.  Part of me would like it to be as automated as possible.  With the single external and a once-a-week full backup for off-site, that would be great.  The daily switching wouldn't be a bad thing, but switching out the externals...  Is it ok to switch them out on a daily basis like that?  Are they really meant to be used like that?  Will it make a difference in how I set up the backups?  Do they have to be (or should they be) the same model of external HD?
    That really may be the best option if it's as good as you make it sound.  I really don't have a lot of experience in setting this up from scratch - that's why I'm here.
    LVL 22

    Expert Comment

    For that amount of data external drives just might be a very good fit.

    Depending on how much the data changes you might want to set up one 500gb drive to contain the backups for a week and then swap out the drive at the beginning of the new week with four drives you can cover a month that way. You might as well keep Backup Exec since you are already familiar with it and it is in place.
    LVL 63

    Assisted Solution

    For external drives, I would also consider using eSATA, rather than USB. ANother option is external SCSI if you already have an external connector.

    You can get removable drive cases for either, although eSATA really does not require it if you use individual eSATA drives without a large case.

    I would do a backup to one drive for weekly full, take it off site, and do incrementals or differentials, the rest of the week, possibly spread among two drives, since if one fails, you can not lose more than 24 hours of data from the backups.

    I hope this helps !


    Author Comment

    Ok - I'm not certain I follow completely.  Maybe I should pose it a little differently.
    If we got two externals, could it be set up to switch them every few days?  Also, can it be configured so that the weekly backups & the differentials keep accumulating on the two drives so that we could have at least a 3 month backlog?  We would add no more than 100-200 MB per day on very heavy days (50 MB on normal days) and with the weekly full backup of 60 GB (50 is probably more realistic), I'm thinking that two 750 GB drives would hold it.
    I was looking over some info about how to try to set it up and I'm still a bit confused.

    Thanks to everyone for the help so far.
    LVL 18

    Accepted Solution

    I have several thoughts on this...

    1). In your server add a SATA drive card and obtain a hot swappable removable drive case with five extra removable cases that your 5 - 100 gig SATA HDDs will sit in.

    NewEgg is a good source for such items. Search RAID for hot swappable removable drive enclosures. Maybe ~$800?

    Swap a drive daily after backup.

    2). Purchase a low cost NAS with at least a mirrored pair... better yet would be striped RAID 5. with at least three drives. In anyh scenario I recommend a drive installed as a hot spare.

    Back up to the NAS and create backups in BackUp Exec to keep dailies under separate directories and a weekly and over write when needed.

    More and more companies back up to a RAIDed NAS (Network Attached Storage) and not using separate backup media unless there is a policy to keep a backup off site. The idea is if one Hard drive fails, in a RAID array, you are generally notified, swap in a new drive and your done. It is redundant and the odds or a catastrophic failure are low, but like any media are still there but reduced.

    There are several low cost NAS solutions that you just add the drives you want. For some reason netgear comes to mind as I know they have one out, but there are other. Can cost you close to the grand.

    Or build your own from an older PC. See FreeNAS...

    My 2 cents!


    Author Comment

    Sorry, I've been trying some things on my own - without success, I might add.
    I've been looking at lust using 2 (or more) different hot-swappable 160 GB externals (Seagate - FreeAgent Go 160GB External Hard Drive) for the off-site portion and a single external permanently connected (Seagate - FreeAgent Pro 750GB External Hard Drive) for the bulk of everything.
    I'm having some problems setting up the backup job though: wanting to have a full every week with incrementals in between.  The backup says it is working correctly (47 GB for the full and about 1 GB for the incrementals, which is more than I anticipated) but I cannot restore anything except from the latest incremental.  
    Are there any real good tutorials out there?  I cannot seem to find one for the novice - which I evidently am more of than I first thought.
    Any ideas/suggestions?
    Thanks again & sorry for the delay in responding.

    Author Closing Comment

    You all know what you're talking about.  But most of my questions went unanswered, and some of what was said was way over my head.  I thought I had conveyed that my level was a bit lower than you guys, but...  
    Johnjces was most complete & included a link while SysExpert was second.
    Thanks for trying.

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