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SBS2003 real word backup advise needed

Rich asked
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-06
I have been reading various Q&A regarding backup of a SBS2003 server with Exchange, but am looking for a simple, straightforward strategy to implement with my SBS installation. Currently, I have SBS 2003 R2 running as my primary (and only server), with about 15 client users (various onsite and offsite workstations and laptops). The server is of course running AD. Exchange is also on the server. I am performing nightly full backus (they are not too big) to tape using Backup Exec 12.5. My question is - what is the best way to add a standby server hardware into the mix and how do I configure it to be a 'hot spare' (as in if the main server stops running, the backup can simply take over), or is this even feasible? I understand that this is a fairly large topic, so I am looking for the most reliable and simplest way to deal with a server failure.
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Some thoughts for you...

Add 2nd server as secondary DC providing you with AD redundancy in the event of the PDC going down.

I assume your current server and 2nd server yet to be added, will be running raid arrays, and so you will have integrated hard drive redundancy as a result. If not, then they should be. Dual power supplies connectecd to a UPS should also help minimise potential downtime in the event of component failure or power outages. As you are running Exchange you might also want to configure a secondary MX record (assuming you are hosting the primary MX record for your domain) to an external service so that in the event of your mail server going down then your emails are held remotely until you are back online.

Continue using BE 12.5 which is a great product. I assume you must have the SBS version so already have Exchange , SQL and Advanced Open File Option available to you. These are very efficient components that will underpin your disaster recovery resources. Create jobs that backup all of your vital resources regularly (+ incremental jobs if required) and make sure you have both on-site and off-site backups (fire proof safe if you have one). Depending on how well you sleep at night you might want to extend this further to include tertiary backups on NAS, USB, DVD drives etc.

As far as the 2nd server being a 'hot spare' there are applications that can mirror your server applications (e.g. Exchange, SQL) and provide immediate failover and seamless operations (give or take 1 second or two). For an organisation of your current size this might be overkill but if you have deep pockets then this could be a useful complement to everything else in your toolbox. Then there's diesel generators, off-site mirrors, multiple internet connections etc....

Hope this helps.


It does help, thanks. I already have a Dell PowerEdge server with RAID 10 configured over a 4 disk set, dual supplies, etc., and it is of course the PDC. As far as setting up the second server, it probably won't be as high-end hardware, but a couple of questions on it.

Do I simple install SBS2003R2 on it and then connect it to the network? (using //server/connectcomputer, as I would a client PC?
How do I get the AD running on it and how do I make it a (secondary/backup?) Domain Controller? How do I swap to using it if the PDC fails? (I had thought that I read somewhere the there is no such thing as a Backup Domain Controller in the Small Business Server configuration.)

I have a Firewall/Router that does the NAT for my network but the PDC is running DHCP, so in case of failure I assume I would have to enable DHCP manaully on the backup machine, as well as DNS and WINS.

Currently I am using Exchagne with the POP3 Connector to retrieve mail from my outside ISP, where the MX is pointing, but I am planning on setting up Exchange as the mail server and pointing the MX to it. I will research that process separatly from this question.
No, you cannot have two SBS servers in the same domain, so don't try to do that!

You can have two SBS servers on the same IP subnet but they must be different Windows domains.

It sounds like you need to look at the server mirroring applications I mentioned previously. There are a few out there, none of which I'm yet familiar with, but I know that they can provide what you are looking for.

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Thank you very much. I will have to decide if mirroring is a better option than recreating a server on the fly if the first fails. Sounds that the backup server will at least need the same tape drive in order to restore the previous data to, in either case.
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