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What is the best way to back up 1TB of data?

Posted on 2009-02-20
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Our server has two drives--one for the OS (Windows 2003 Server) and one for our data. The data drive has a capacity of 1.5TB. We are currently using 900GB. Backing up our data has become difficult. Using Windows Backup, the process takes 5+ days. Additionally, the external drives that I use for backup only have a capacity of 750GB, so I cannot even perform a complete backup. I have never backed up the full 900GB but I need to ASAP. We need access to all of the data; we cannot archive the older stuff and move it off the server. What are my options, both hardware and software?
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Question by:TUMIhq
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 23693980
With that much data, you're probably best off with tape.  While the initial investment can be significant (tape drives aren't cheap), the tapes themselves are pretty inexpensive and can hold large amounts of data.  Actually, with as much data as you have, a small auto-loader would make the most sense.

There's nothing to say you have to back it up all at once.  You backup portions at a time.  For example, you can do full backups on folders A-E on day 1, F-K on day 2, L-P on day 3 and so on.  Other days you perform differential backups.  of the other data.  This would require separate backup jobs.  But that's how to handle large backups when you don't otherwise have the capacity or backup window to do ONE large backup.
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by:TUMIhq
ID: 23694251
Thanks for the response leew. One of the things I like about the external hard drives is that the data is instantly accessible. I like to keep backups in multiple offsite locations. I would guess this could be done with tape. What brand/model would you recommend? What are some keywords I should use in a search for these tape drives? Sorry for the noobistic questions.
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 23694506
If you are using server 2003 or 2008, you can enable Volume Shadow Copy and keep multiple version backups online and on the server easily accessible.  Then the tape is something you shouldn't have to reach for very often.  Given the amount of data you have, I would probably suggest an LTO4 or AIT5 tape drive.  NOTE: tape advertises two capacities - compressed and native.  Compressed is a joke.  FEW people ever see close to the advertised compression ratio of 2:1.  When buying tape, go by the native (uncompressed) capacities and anything compression gives you can be considered a bonus (typically I see about 1.2-1.5:1 rates).

Then you're looking for a device that can auto-load multiple tapes.  LTO4 and AIT5 hold between 800 GB and 1.2 TB per tape.  While you CAN HOPE to get more with compression, if your data is growing, you'll quickly reach the limit of tape, which is why an auto-loader is what you would want - something that you can fill with multiple tapes that are automatically changed when full without YOU needing to manually change them.  There are many autoloaders to choose from but most are rack-mounts.  And they are expensive, typically $3000 AT LEAST.  As for brands... I've had good luck with Overland and HP in the past.  I would avoid Dell tape drives (I have no problem with their business servers or optiplex or latitude computers, but the tape drives have historically been nothing but trouble for me.
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Author Comment

by:TUMIhq
ID: 23694538
Thanks for the details. It sounds like the tape back up is the way to go, but the price tag may be too steep right now. There are many external 1TB/1.5TB drives available now. Is there any way to make these work more efficiently?
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 23694727
As I said, you can break up the backups so portions are backed up on different days - that should shrink the backup window you need and can help squeeze your data onto the devices you have/get.
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by:TUMIhq
ID: 23695011
Are there any programs that can speed up or compress the backup process? I would really like to backup once a week and have it all fit on a single external drive and be completed within 36 hours. I know it's a crazy request, but anything that moves toward efficiency and minimal human intervention is what I need.
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 23695126
That's an autoloader tape drive.   You could take an incremental step towards that and get better backup software (which, frankly, you'll want when you get a tape drive) such as Backup Exec or ArcServe.  That can do software compression.  But there are a host of reasons your backups may be running slow - including file size, disk performance, the fact that you're using a slow USB connection (firewire would be faster, eSATA would be faster still - USB provides only 160-200 Mb/sec throughput SUSTAINED under IDEAL conditions).  But then you need to factor in disk fragmentation on both the source and target drives.  Plus utilization of the disk for other things (if its the same spindles as your exchange server, for example).  Small files transfer more slowly than large files as well.  Especially if you have many small files. One way to work around that would be to use disk imaging that copies block by block.  But that wouldn't be compatible with tape.  If your data is important, you need to buy the insurance to protect it... just like you would for your fancy new car (if you have a fancy new car).  If you don't you RISK IT.
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by:SysExpert
ID: 23695132
How are you connecting your external drives - If USB, then that is the bottleneck.

Use eSATA, and you should get a 4x improvement at least, or look into an external box with multiple removable drives in a caddy, via eSATA


I hope this helps !
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Author Comment

by:TUMIhq
ID: 23695257
I currently connect our external backup drives via eSata. Our server is exclusively a file server and we only have six people that access it.
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SysExpert earned 2000 total points
ID: 23695651
Something is wrong.

eSATA should not take 5 days to do 1 TB

Make sure that you have  SATA II controller and drives.

eSATA should give you at least 1-2 GB / minute ( USB 2.0 gives me almost 0.7 GB / minute )
so at 1 GB// min 600 GB is 600 min = 10 hours.

How heavily are the servers being used after hours ?

Start the backup at 5 PM and keep an eye on it.


I hope this helps !
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Author Comment

by:TUMIhq
ID: 23695923
Our servers are not used heavily at all. Most of the documents accessed are word processing files. Using Windows Backup, I check the verify backup box. Is it possible that verification is adding four days to the operation?
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by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 23698961
Verify in my experience adds about 50% of the original backup time.

But I think SysExpert is sounding too certain.  As I stated, small files, such as word processing files, and fragmented files can play a huge role in backup speed.  If you were backing up 900 one gigabyte files that were unfragmented, then you should be getting 1-2 GB /minute.  But if you are fragmented severely and or the file sizes average 20K-50K, your backup times will be MUCH MUCH LONGER.
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by:lucius_the
ID: 23706824
I would also take NAS storage into consideration, like this one: http://www.intel.com/products/server/storage-systems/ss4200-e/ss4200-e-overview.htm
It's easily upgradeable and also has RAID capability. I use this and it works very well.

Incremental or differential backups will help you with the speed problem. Of course, one in a while you need a full backup, this may be done over the weekend ?
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Expert Comment

by:pgm554
ID: 23825645
Mostly word processing files?

Turn on compression for the data volume.

You should see the amount of data drop by at least 50% ,if not more and that should speed up the time to back up significantly.
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Author Closing Comment

by:TUMIhq
ID: 31549263
I suspect there is a problem with my SATA card. I still need to troubleshoot that. However, I have started using Acronis on the server and I can back it all up in about eight hours. Thank you for all the assistance.
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