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Thoughts on Backup Solutions

FlynnKeilty asked
I have a small business LAN with about 140 gigs of data to backup.
When I arrived they were using back up exec to backup to Western Digital My Book devices.
This has worked out horribly.
When the My Book is recognized there is some small snag with backup exec regarding a setting that needs to be tweaked to allow the backup to finish correctly. Just when I think I have it set, something else pops up. Also, the My Book does become unreconized from time to time.
All of this adds up to a huge headache because backups are so critical.
I have been searching around the net but there is no apparent alternative aside from a san device (Which i think would be overkill) or backup to tape (Which I feel is a step back).
What I'd really like is some thought around what you think is the best backup solution for a small LAN 60 - 80 users. That wouldn't break the bank.
Right now I am leaning towards either another My Book or a Maxtor networkable drive.

Thanks very much for anything you could share.
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You might want to check out the Quantum GoVault.  The cartridges are actually a laptop hard drive that is encased in a hard plastic case.  They are available in various sizes, have a long self life, and are supposedly rugged enough to withstand drops.

This solution is cheaper than a tape device, but still allows for the easy portability you have with tape cartridges.
Backup Exec is one of the most powerful backup utilities available, and I suggest you continue using it.

My backup solution of choice would have to be a tape backup in conjuction with a raid 2 or 5. Depending on which tapes you buy they can be very inexpensive, high storage capacity, long lifetime , and they can be taken offsite. The most important rule of thumb when making backups is to have a copy offsite so if your worksite burns down you are still able to recover. If you used LT02 tapes for instance you could write 200gb of uncompressed data to a single cartridge.

I'd also like to know if you backup this data from each pc individually or if it all being synchronized with a file server first.
If you don't need to take it off site.  Buy a good NAS box with some redundancy and call it a day.  Under $700 solution that will work just fine for you.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013
>If you don't need to take it off site.
If you don't take it off site then you don't have a good backup system.  With no off site backup, you lose EVERYTHING in a fire.  Flood.  Theft. Etc.  

Please read over http://www.lwcomputing.com/tips/static/backup.asp - I used to post most of what's there in comments here... but it was so silly doing that over and over again, so I made it a web page.

Please feel free to post followup questions on that link and I'll be happy to contribute comments if at all possible.
Top Expert 2008
I'm interested in why you think tape is a step back... while not as long lived or rugged as hard drive storage is, it is by far the cheapest storage where you are can get separate backups every single day, in case something happens to one tape or another.

A good cliche to stick by here is "don't put all your eggs in one basket". That means don't keep all your backups on site, which leew already covered... don't rely on a single device for your backups like a single MyBook drive... you get the point. Single point of failure defeats the purpose.

If you really want to go for a disk based solution, sgerling mentioned the GoVault which sounds alot like the Dell RD1000. Removable hard drives seem to be the way the industry is going but the cost can exceed that of tape when you take into account buying multiple cartridges. And you *do* need multiple cartridges, referring back to the eggs in basket reference.


Everyone, Thank you for your suggestions. I appreciate them and look forward to continuing this thread.
I definitely appreciate the offsite aspect of backups and am a big proponent of this myself.
As far as tapes being a step back, my thinking is that for large backups you would have to manually replace tapes to continue the job and also tapes usually aren't known for the reliability.
I am not saying I am absolutely correct in this thinking and since your post I looked at the Dell RD1000 and that looks like a possibility.
Does anyone out there get 100% successfull backups most of the time?
Part of my overall frustration is that there is always something derailing me, whether it is the hardware, the software settings or the backup data itself. It seems that once one mountain is climbed another one pops up.
As I have been reading and thinking about your responses I think that I may be making backups more complicated than they need to be.
I currently backup 2 large servers, one being an email and 1 smaller server. I was having trouble because the backups always seemed to fail and took a great deal of time to complete. So I broke them down into 3 different backups instead of 2 and that worked for awhile. For backup type I had been doing all 3 backups each day, 1 full and two incrementals then 2 full and one incremental. Perhaps slowing that down to one full backup a day or 1 full then skip a day, then 1 incremental, then 1 full would work.

Again, I appreciate this conversation and hope to keep it going, and of course welcome and appreciate any suggestions.

Top Expert 2008

"As far as tapes being a step back, my thinking is that for large backups you would have to manually replace tapes to continue the job and also tapes usually aren't known for the reliability."

For large backups, you can get larger tape storage than you can hard drives. The largest widely available standard right now is the LTO4, the tapes for which are 800GB native, 1.6TB compressed assuming a 2:1 compression ratio. The pros here are the tapes are much cheaper per GB than hard drives and the drive is *fast*. The cons are, as you noted, tape storage as a whole is not as reliable as HDD and the initial cost of the backup unit itself is much higher. Overall cost is something only you can estimate yourself based on storage needs as well as how much redundancy you want in your backups.

In a solid working system, it's safe to expect 100% backups until something goes wrong, be it hardware or software. If you want to do a single backup for all servers, I would look into using Backup Exec 12 along with the necessary agents to do what you need [Remote and Exchange agents at least, assuming your email server is Exchange].

As far as the RD1000 being a possibility, don't rule out sgerling's suggestion on the Quantum drive as well, I was just comparing it to something I'm familiar with myself. Just be sure to research all your options before diving into something.
I find that tapes are the most reliable form of storage available. The problem with SANS and disk to disk backups in general is the cost to maintain them. Hard drives run very hot and they fail frequently.

You will never get 100% backups all the time, and the reason being is that some file that are currently in use become locked and unreadable, especially system files. Backup exec will usually display a job as failed even if it has only missed 1 file.

Use a raid 2 or 5 on the servers, back them up with tapes. Run an incremental tape backup from mon-fri and run another full backup over the weekend. Do this every week and rotate the used tapes every 8-12 weeks.
Top Expert 2008

"Backup exec will usually display a job as failed even if it has only missed 1 file. "
Not true, BUE will display "Completed with exceptions" and show which files it could not backup.

"Use a raid 2 or 5 on the servers"
I believe you meant RAID 1 or 5. Don't see too many controllers these days that support RAID 2.  ;)
akirhol you are correct, I was not thinking clearly it is Raid 1. Thank you.


I am leading towards the Go Vault internal dock solution.
Just having this conversation has helped me gain an inner peace towards backups I haven't felt before.
Thanks. I'm splitting up the points and I really appreciate it.