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Advice needed: eSATA RAID-capable enclosure for use with Veritas Backup Exec 9.0

Posted on 2007-10-15
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Our current backup system involves a 1.1TB LTO-1 external tape autoloader and Veritas Backup Exec 9.0. We have outgrown the storage capacity of the tape system and would like to move to eSATA disk backup as inexpensively as possible. Ideally, this would mean purchasing new hardware only, as BE 9.0 natively supports disk backup. I would prefer to purchase bare SATA drives (4 x 500GB will cover our needs for a few years) and install them in a RAID-capable multi-bay eSATA enclosure.

From discussions with our IT consulting firm, the trick is apparently finding an eSATA enclosure that will play nice with BE 9.0. They have not tested any multi-bay eSATA enclosures yet, so I need some recommendations on external enclosures/systems known to work with BE 9.0. Hotswap is not necessary. To this point, the only one I have found that specifically mentions BE 9.0 support is FirstRAID from Highly Reliable Systems, but I am less than impressed by their URL and Web site:

http://www.tapesucks.com/HR3/includes/FirstRAID/FirstRAID.php

Any advice is appreciated. Thanks in advance!
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Question by:cdsprint
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by:SysExpert
ID: 20079322
DO you plan to use RAID on the eSATA drives, or JBOD ?

If no Raid is involved, I would think that anything should work, just depends on your SATA controller.

I hope this helps !
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by:cdsprint
ID: 20079907
I would prefer to use RAID, as I would like some kind of fault tolerance on the backup. I should perhaps get some more specifics from our IT firm regarding how exactly Backup Exec 9.0 is finicky when it comes to various eSATA enclosures; they only told me that they've had success with some enclosures and no success with others. They have only tested single drive enclosures, however.
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by:SysExpert
ID: 20081227
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by:cdsprint
ID: 20084858
Thanks for the suggestions. Unfortunately, there are apparently some differences between Backup Exec 9.0 and 9.1, and 9.1 isn't a free update (and isn't available anymore, either).

I spoke with our IT firm, and they said that, in their experience, there doesn't appear to be any rhyme or reason as to which eSATA drives/enclosures BE 9.0 supports. They also said that the upgrade to BE 10.x or 11.x addresses the issues, but I'm doing my best to avoid having to spend the money on software upgrades and remote/Exchange agents, hence my reason for posting this question in the first place. :-)

Hopefully, someone out there has BE 9.0 working with a multi-bay eSATA enclosure. If not, it looks like I'll have to quadruple my estimated cost for this project.
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kode99 earned 750 total points
ID: 20092323
This is not that big of a problem.  To save updating software just install a extra drive to use as a backup 'swap space'.  Have BackupExec do its backup to this drive then do a seperate copy operation to move it to a external eSATA drive.  This actually would give you a quick access online backup as well which is not a bad idea.

For external enclosures take at look at stuff from Addonics.  they have a number of options and the price and quality is good.

For small storage towers look at these,  I would suggest going with multilane SATA cables over eSATA and use removeable hotswap cartidges.  The miltilane cable is a lot more secure.  It is not 'eSATA' either so it probable would not be a problem with Backup Exec.

http://www.addonics.com/products/raid_system/mst4.asp

If you are taking backups off site they also have a hardware encrypted cartidge unit that allows you to have automatic secure backups.  These can be used with the above enclosure.

http://www.addonics.com/products/cipher/

While RAID is not bad,  I would actually suggest using a rotating drive setup much like with tapes.  If you put all the backups on one RAIDed setup that is always on you are really putting all your eggs in one basket.  On the outside chance of a really severe power problem you could lose everything that is live at the time - so both the servers and the backup system.  Having something that is not live avoids this problem.  More or less the same idea of offsite backups in the event of a fire.

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by:cdsprint
ID: 20092635
kode99, thanks for your input. My thinking behind the RAID setup was space considerations (i.e. one large volume) more than anything else. As I noted above, we are currently exceeding the capacity of our 1.1TB tape backup system, and with SATA hard drives currently topping out at 1TB, we will need more than one of them to complete a full backup.

I like the idea of internal "swap" drives or a small storage tower as onsite backup. I apologize for not making this clear in my initial post, but the eSATA external enclosure would act as our offsite backup, which is why I've been harping on that. The eSATA drive could just be "stopped" and "ejected" (like any other external hard drive) in order to take it off site. You're right...if Backup Exec doesn't need to be involved in copying the onsite backup content to the eSATA offsite backup, then it doesn't matter what eSATA enclosures BE supports.

I will present this to our IT firm to see what they think. I'll wait for their response before accepting this as a solution, in case there are any caveats. Thanks again!
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Expert Comment

by:kode99
ID: 20098411
One downside is that a overall backup process wil take longer,  back to the 'swap' space then the second copy process.

Here's a decent portable RAID5 enclosure.  The RAID 5 is done in the unit and only 1 eSATA cable connects to the system.  The benefit is that this just appears as a single big drive,  so i can be connected to anything.  Downside is cost - $1600 plus drives.

http://www.wiebetech.com/products/rt5.php

You may be able to get one for less than this but anything with built in RAID 5 is fairly expensive compared to a multilane capable RAID card inside the PC connected to a drive enclosure like the Addonics.  This is just not so easy to access.

If you can split the backup job or the backup file up to fit on non-RAIDed drives you can get away for a much simplier setup and lower costs.
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Author Comment

by:cdsprint
ID: 20251461
My apologies; I was waiting to hear from our consulting firm, and was also on vacation.

They agree that kode99's solution of adding swap drives and setting up a file copy outside of Backup Exec is the best route for us to take, since we do not wish to purchase the BE upgrades at this time. We are still researching various enclosures, but are on our way to implementing a new backup system. Thank you!
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