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Backup Best Practices

Posted on 2009-07-08
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Hi All,

What are the best practices for making backup of web servers?  Should a periodic backup be performed or only when changes have been made?  What should be backed up?

Thanks
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Question by:ISS_Expert
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by:QEMS
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It depends on your requirements and how critical the data is. It will also depend on whether it is a static site or a database backed site which would change almost continuously - depending on useage.

If it is a static site you could probably back up the site somewhere when it is uploaded if it is not already covered in another backup of user's documents.

If it is a database backed site then you could do a nightly dump of the DB and back that up somewhere.

Then you need to decide how long you need that data backed up for.

I back up the database for our web based ticketing system. The system itself is not a problem, in this case it is just the database that I am interested in. This DB dump is placed on a network drive which is backed up according to the schedule for that system.

In the event of a failure I can set up a new web server, install the helpdesk system and import the latest backed up database.
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by:noxcho
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Both periodic and changes saving backups should be done if your data is important and work idle time of the company or server itself is unacceptable
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by:ISS_Expert
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I should have been more specific with my question.  It's a web based application with a backend SQL Server db.  A daily backup of the db is performed, but there is no backup of the web server.  My concern is that if there is no backup of the web server configuration, web pages, virtual directories, etc etc, the recovery time would be seriously affected (if you have to build a new server).  I am looking for an effective process that would ensure availability of up-to-date backup while not creating millions of replicas in tapes.  Perhaps it could be a part of the change management process where any changes to the web server configuration/files would require creating a backup?
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QEMS earned 500 total points
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If it's a windows server then you can just schedule an NTbackup job to back up the relevant drives/directories and system state.

In the event of a failure you can reinstall windows, restore your backup and then restore the database.

Its up to you whether you do incremental backups or whether you do full backups. If you have the storage capacity and there is not much on the web server then you could full backups of the relevant areas on the server every day. Exclude your database from the server backup if you already have this being backed up on another schedule.

Depending on how often changes occur you could even consider ghosting the server, that wouldn't work if the application changes regularly but if changes only occur every couple of months you could take an image when a change occurs. In that case in the event of a failure you would just apply your image on to the server, apply any hotfixes/security patches that may be required, restore your database and you'd be good to go.

The reason I don't back up the server in the case of our helpdesk is that it is very quick and easy to set up a LAMP stack, install a package for the application and restore the database. If this was a regularly changing application it would change my priorities. Again you need to consider what resources you need to perform backups (tapes/tape drives/any software/your time setting up and maintaining etc) and how much these backups will help you in the event of a failure. That will be specific to your situation.

It would make sense to build a backup into your change management process. How often does your application change?
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by:ISS_Expert
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Thank you QEMS for your detailed reply.  Ours is a web-based business application, so there are changes from time to time, perhaps every couple of months.  The application itself is fairly small so I think we can consider performing a periodic backup of the relevant drives and also build backup into our change management process.  Thanks again.
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